Monday, January 23, 2012

Purity Bear Wants You to Cuddle Him, Kids. Hard.

Advertising has got to be tricky—& not just for that sonuvagun Don Draper. Consistently tempted by the thralls of this zippy, media-saturated Internet Age, we as consumers seem to have lost our last ounce of patience for straight-up salesmanship, such that ads are now expected to be especially fun & entertaining in & of themselves, attention-grabbing as the programming they're paired with, if not more so.

Of course, as this recent evocation of Auschwitz to sell gym memberships proves, there are many instances in which advertisers lose sight of any & all common sense in pursuit of this ardent viewer appeal—& in so doing, they don't just fail to hit their target demographic, but in fact fail to hit any potential demographic in the history of ever, apparently firing with the laser precision of 800 quail-hunting Dick Cheneys. (Hey there, 2006!—re: That's honestly the only place my brain went when it came time to think of an "inaccurate marksmanship" joke. Can more relevant people suck at shooting things, please?)

It stands to reason, then, that this problem of bafflingly self-sabotaging ads would be compounded tenfold when the product in question is even more fundamentally unappealing than exercise—for example, abstinence. Because, really now: in an industry with the simplest & most alliterative of mottos—that is, "sex sells" (as in, "Organ donation? Okay, but how can we make it sexy?")—creating an anti-sex PSA that is successful by modern advertising standards is likely going to be very, brain-bendingly difficult.

Anyhow, all of this is my attempt to somehow explain away the terror &/or bemusement &/or utter, stark lack of comprehension with which I view the following "Day of Purity" PSA, simply titled, "The Purity Bear."

In the first place, let's start with the opening dialogue:
"I really like you a lot. You're not like the other guys."
"I really like you a lot, too. You look so pretty tonight."
Now, I could put on my feminist smoking jacket (the kind with the elbow pads—I imagine it makes me look both authoritative & approachable, with a wink of vintage charm) & point out that the boy is praised for his substance while the girl is praised for her appearance, & so has it been since that whole rib-apple-serpent incident, etc.—but instead, I'm going to put on my person with a motor cortex jeggings & point out that no self-respecting teenagers would ever say these sentences to one another. At least not back-to-back. At least not when sober. Really, though—is it too much to ask that you splurge a little on your screenwriter?

Still, once the kids are done waxing poetic, the girl, being the instigating strumpet she is (ahem, rib-serpent-apple), mentions that her parents aren't home—&, as the two take long, paralyzingly awkward looks into each other's eyes... suddenly, like a muppet crawling from the depths of Hades, a teddy bear slides his way onscreen. & not just any bear. Oh, no. This is a "purity bear"—who, incidentally, sounds like he has an affinity for chain-smoking, cheap whiskey, & driving slowly around his neighborhood in an unmarked van offering candy to small children. "I'm cuddly," he whispers insidiously into the young lad's ear, & it's hard not to shudder at the thought of the many counseling sessions filled with those to whom he's said those words before.

So, kids, the moral of the story is, if you want to have sex with your cuddly girlfriend (also worth an eyebrow raise), hug a cuddly teddy bear instead. Just don't get too serious—especially if you're interested in actually getting a message across, not haunting my dreams with lurking stuffed animal sex predators.

Today's Headphone Fodder:

A relevant title for today's subject matter—& a relevant song for my state of mind (read: insomniac, collegiate, aimless). Bright & boppy strumming with blithely despairing lyrics—sweet indifference, as its crooner croons, with the wry breathiness of those jaded left grinning, bitterly, grinning.

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