Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fat Guy in a Little Controversy

When I saw this ad, my first reactions were: Aww, fat guy in a little coat! I love that scene! and then Hey, Chris Farley is dead, so what the hell are they doing using him in a DirecTV commercial? Apparently I wasn't alone in thinking it was a little problematic making a dead person into a spokesman for your company.

According to this article (nitpick: the article incorrectly refers to the scene as "Fat Boy in a Little Coat," suggesting that the author had never even seen this classic scene before and therefore isn't in the best position to comment on how wrong it is that they turned it into a commercial... but whatever...), Chris Farley's family was totally on board with the ad, and David Spade thought it was a nice tribute to his friend, so everyone on board apparently has a clear conscience about the whole thing and doesn't intend to apologize or pull the ad.

I'm not going to tear into David Spade for this (though Gawker had no qualms about doing so). I blame Farley's family for giving their consent, and DirecTV for having poor taste. To paraphrase the late great Bill Hicks (hey, wouldn't it be hilarious if they used him in an advertisement? maybe for Orange Drink?), when you do a commercial, you're a corporate fucking shill. You're off the artistic roll call. Everything you say is suspect, and every word that comes out of your mouth is like a turd falling into my drink. (Bill meant his own drink, but hey, mine too.) So the thing is, when you choose to do an endorsement, it's like when an amateur goes pro -- you can't go back. From now on, when someone hears you say something, they will not know if you sincerely believe it or if someone just paid you to say it. So apparently David Spade made the calculation and thought, OK, the amount of money they're paying me makes it worth doing this. But poor Chris Farley doesn't have the luxury of making that kind of choice, now, does he? Maybe you don't think that's so bad, but think about it this way: there's a whole generation of people out there who were not yet born when Tommy Boy came out and might not have ever seen it, so the next time they see Chris Farley on TV their first thought may well be "Hey, it's the guy from the DirecTV ad!"

Maybe Chris Farley did other endorsements during his lifetime, in which case he was a corporate shill anyway (I'd still love the guy if that were true). Even so, the decision to use one's own talent and reputation in support of selling a particular product is one that only an individual can make for him/herself, and no matter how well his family knew Chris Farley they can't know for sure that he would have wanted to do an ad for fucking DirecTV. I'd like to think he wouldn't.

While I'm on this subject, have you all seen Jeff Bridges' ads for Duracell and Hyundai? Very un-Dude...

1 comment:

SDSwimmer said...

Follow up to here's a new article criticizing the attempt to link health insurance with weight.

I like this paragraph: The most egregious flaw in the Safeway program is the way it treats body size as a risk factor in and of itself. Yes, obesity is correlated with higher rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other ailments—but that doesn't mean that everyone who's fat is going to get sick. A 2008 study from the Archives of Internal Medicine found that a full one-third of all obese patients were "metabolically healthy" in terms of their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other measures. Meanwhile, one-fourth of the patients whose BMI was in the normal range showed abnormal metabolic signs. So a policy that varies its premiums as a function of body size is guaranteed to punish a bunch of people who are perfectly healthy and reward a bunch of people who are at risk. (According to the study, these backward incentives would affect about 18 percent of the population.)