Monday, January 15, 2007

American streams

The wonders of the Internet mean I can now watch American television on my laptop, and I'm teleported directly inside the American soul. It's all there in the adverts.

Endless fast-food passes before my eyes. Why do none of these processed-fat-guzzlers look overweight? But I spot some salad, and start feeling peckish. If the nearest Wendy's Steakhouse is in Portland, Maine, could I get there and back before the start of the Second Quarter?

A smug businessy wanker drives his nasty machine on the edge of a skyscraper while a woman faux-orgasms next to him. I find myself rooting for gravity.

Hummer adverts. Contempt fails me.

Four more smug businessy wankers get email on their mobiles and gibber at the commands passed down to them from the Board. You know what? With each day that passes our bodies malfunction, the global climate breaks down, the sun burns on towards extinction and the universe - our gorgeous, swaggering universe - puffs itself outwards. Eventually there will be nothing left except wisps of inert matter, expanding towards nothingness for ever and ever and ever. But even then, should I by some outrageous miracle survive, there will not have been even one second where I have given the vaguest flying fuck about the desires of the Board. Grow some spine, you odious corporate lickspittles.

A slouchy fatso drops into a subterranean bunker where other slovenly nonentities drink themselves polatic in front of a plasma screen. Its target demographic is the suburban, sports-watching male. We're expected to empathise with the ordinariness of this supine and apathetic figure. He's us. The not-so-hidden message is you are a useless, failing toe-rag who doesn't even need windows, so shut up and consume our product. If I bludgeoned an adman to death with a copy of The Da Vinci Code, could I plead provocation?

The sports commentators start joining in the adverts. "I'm really looking forward to that new series of 24, where Jack Bauer's corpse is going to reanimate itself in order to save America by torturing dusky foreigners and slaughtering inmates in Federal custody."

Dozens of Peyton Manning slots. He lacks the comic genius of, say, Charlie Chaplin, but he's amiable enough. America, you'll soon be bombarded by David Beckham, who will make Manning look like Demosthenes.

Thirty magic seconds where rednecks talk about which devices to put on the back of their pick-up trucks. Are they serious, or is this ironic? I honestly can't tell.

But by the end of the game, Baltimore Ravens fans are blubbing on the telly. I know schadenfreude is an ugly beast, but I can't help feeling it's all been worthwhile.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Artist once known as Dave said...

Please don't tell us how to find these things.

9:27 am  
Blogger Disintegrating Clone said...

Are you no longer Dave, then? Can I call you AOKAD?

11:38 am  
Blogger Artist once known as Dave said...

You can call me what you like, while I make my mind up what to call myself.

8:15 am  
Blogger plok said...

All I can say is: try living next to it. I saw some MTV programming the other day, rebroadcast on CTV. Shudder.

One thing I have fond memories of is being in London and gradually becoming aware that there was a fair amount of America-envy going on in magazines, pubs, politics, and record companies. Well, not just envy, I guess...more like a wish to think oneself part of the American mindset and the American media culture. It was really quite shocking; especially because the idea of America seemed to be a sort of third-hand idea, more like a rumour of America than what America is. The record company thing I found particularly instructive: I was lucky enough to be sitting in a room while some bigwigs debated the relative merits of two different videos, and there was a powerful undercurrent of fear in the room, that the wrong video might make the firm look foolish. This is so far from being an issue in the States! I suppose it was some ineradicable remnant of classism, even in the recording biz, that made this happen. I did see some of that in action in a couple other places, too, and I guess I was surprised that I was surprised. Outside a snooty club in Soho:

My Friend: "You can't let those snooty bastards get to you, mate."

Me: "Get to me? Man, I'm from Canada, remember? I think that's just about the quaintest thing I've ever seen, I wish I'd brought a camera with me!"

Weirdly eye-opening.

Hmm, can't remember where I was going with this...

4:55 am  
Blogger plok said...

Addendum: just ten minutes ago I saw a teaser for a Seattle local news show, in which the anchorlady provided an actual rhyming couplet about an upcoming story. I quote, as far as I can manage it without vomiting:

"This liquor-store robber was after some green,
But the camera he didn't see ruined his scheme."

No, I'm not making it up. God, I only wish I were.

6:07 am  
Blogger Disintegrating Clone said...

Hmm, can't remember where I was going with this...

The same thing happened to my blog.

10:20 am  

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