Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Back in the Saddle

I spent the weekend being face-hugged by the Dungeon Siege game I mentioned in my previous post. To add insult to injury, every time you save your game in DS, the game stamps each save file with the amount of time you've invested in that save's main character. So far I have one character at sixteen hours and one at four. Oy.


Wendy's posts seem to be getting me thinking a lot lately. Lately she's talking about commercials and what they say about men and women and whether we see or understand when we view the commercials. I can't speak for the rest of society, but I do notice when my gender is demeaned or stereotyped by an ad (or a show - I'm looking at *you,* Jim Belushi. And *you,* Tim Allen.)

But one commercial made me want to comment on it, not through any sort of demeaning message, but because I think it got its message exactly wrong, wrong, wrong. I speak of the new Enzyte ad. For those who may not have heard of it, Enzyte is a relatively new dietary supplement that purports to do for men's "endowment" what Bloussant did for women's. Translation: take Enzyte, and you'll get a longer dong (and the indicators are that this may actually not be utter bunk, for once), which is good for your manliness and good for your sex life.


Understand: I have no problem with people clutching at whatever means they please to rectify whatever physical shortcomings they may feel they have. The fact that thousands of people undergo cosmetic surgery of one kind or another every week attests to the market that's probably out there. I'm afraid that Enzyte's big commercial, though, is going to doom them to failure despite this market. I wish that hadn't gone belly-up, because this sepia-toned thing that I've dubbed the "rictus ad" will do no one any favors, and I wish I could just point people to it so they could see what I'm talking about. The pencil-necked protagonist of the ad, whose name escapes me but I'll call "Jim," is the beneficiary of Enzyte's benefits, and drifts, filmed through a fisheye lens, through a cloud of office workers with a grin on his face, that makes everyone turn, stare, and wonder what's "up" with him. This is not a healthy, "pleased with myself" kind of grin, it's a "my bowels are about to loosen" or "please don't notice my cleaver and bloodstained shirt" kind of grin. What old Batman comics termed a "ghoulish grin." Very offputting, and somehow exacerbated by the sepia filter and weird lenswork. There's a promising, nearly informative bit where "Jim" walks by his fat, phlegmatic, wife-beater-shirt-wearing neighbor who's watering his lawn with a hose that goes progressively flaccid as he watches "Jim" walk by, but the moment doesn't last. "Jim" opens the door to greet his wife (whom, the voiceover claims, also benefits), who's wearing a grin that's even more ghoulish, if possible, and exhausted-looking to boot. Ewww. What bugs me is that they had to have been trying for this weird look - it takes work to look this pained. So long, Enzyte. Nice knowing you.


...And on to the subject of The Osbournes. Mary noted in a comment here a few entries ago, and on today's entry on her own blog, that I appear to have a stunted sense of humor, especially as regards MTV's The Osbournes. I suppose some sort of explanation is necessary, if only as a hook on which people can hang their own commentary. :-)

The Osbournes, as a show, simply fails to tickle my funny bone. My best laugh (and it was more of a chuckle, as I'd already heard the punchline from the other blogs exhorting me to see the show) came from Ozzy's line about being the Prince a Fookin' Darkness and not wanting a bubble machine at his concert. As I mentioned in my response to Mary's comment, I've seen seven or eight episodes at this point, so I think I have a pretty good picture of the series and where it's going. I look at Ozzy, at 52, shuffle with his hands shaking from room to room, as he argues with Sharon, who alternates between bitchily shutting him up and pulling passive-aggressive crap like the "no, I'm not going to bring any animals back from the vet" thing. I watch as the two of their kids that agreed to be filmed mouth off, get traffic tickets, get tattoos, have hissy fits, sulk and generally demonstrate themselves to be burgeoning failures of parenting. This is generally not enjoyable to me. It's either disturbing or pitiful. I generally don't like laughing at others' foibles (I spend plenty of energy trying to laugh at my own), especially Ozzy's, whose music I actually enjoy, and who, as the one who's most completely fried his brain, is the most normal of the bunch. I do see the irony, but not all irony is humorous. Much of it is bitter.

Now, to clarify: I'm not some completely humorless Puritan; I can see some of the lighthearted spirit in the Osbourne household, and I can see that there actually is a lot of love there. I can see how the wealth Ozzy has and the weirdness he's cultivated in himself and which comes from being the patriarch of heavy metal get him and his family into zany situations.

It's not even bad TV.

But funny? Not to me. There are obviously literal millions of people who disagree with me. So be it. I never claimed to be normal. :-)


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