I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Holy Cats! What an awkward commercial!

Blue Planet on the Discovery Channel has a really mixed bag of commercials. I guess I understand why; it's got a very broad audience. Old people (life insurance), Steel Workers (Afflack), and the Lonely and/or Stoned (Stouffer's bistro classics crisp panini, "Because dinner alone should...something something good as something something.")

Aqua Velva (which is a product I relate to the 1950s as much as Pepsodent or Brylcreme or Gleem) is apparently trying to broaden its marketshare, beyond the sixty-six year old set...

The Aqua Velva commercial "Men Get It" is hands-down the most awkward commercial I have seen in a long time. The commercial begins with a small tot playing "catch" with his father, which subsequently turns into a 16-year-old playing catch with his father, while the announcer says something like, "Over the years, many things are passed from father to son," and, instantly, my mind goes straight to Herpes. I can't explain why, nor do I want to think about it. Let's move on.

First, there's something so cliched about the image of fathers and sons playing catch, that it sets my teeth on edge. I rarely played catch with my father: 1) Because I didn't want to (i) because I'm gay (ii) because I'm gay (iii) because there was good television on, and/or (iv) because I was busy being a weird, friendless, dirty little child; 2) My father was never home; and 3) When my father was home, he was usually writing articles for publication or gardening, or enduring a forced house-cleaning session with my mother, once she hit the roof about how "This house is a mess, and none of you lift a finger, and you boys and your father treat me like I'm your maid." So, now that we've taken that brief jaunt into my relationship with my father and my blaming Hantavirus and Lyme Disease for any subconscious abandonment issues that I have with my father, back to the awkwardness at hand:

How many of you played catch with your fathers? I hate to say it, but I really hope few-to-none. As a kid in the neighborhood, I don't remember ever seeing any fathers out there playing catch with their kids, because, in my neighborhood, they were either workaholics, or driving riding mower tractors around, because "what a great toy! This is fun," or... raging alcoholics sleeping with their secretaries.

I'm never playing catch with my kids. I'll get them a bouncy ball and they can throw it against the wall, or throw a baseball against one of those soccer ball net kicky-back framey things...

I keep getting distracted.

Focus.

Okay. So we've established (and delved the depths of, and "unpacked") the reasons for my visceral response to the catch image, but as the commercial plays, it's sort of like, "This has to be a joke, right? This is a Geico commercial or something, where the father will be all like acting like he's going to give the kid some sage advice, and then tell him, actually, that he saved 'a bunch of money on car insurance,' and then we'll all laugh and think good things about Geico" (I use Progressive.)

And then, as if the game of catch, and the "Sunrise, Sunset" image of children growing up wasn't grimace-inducing enough... we cut to a... eh, not unattractive, but not terribly attractive father, grinning as he... pats aftershave on his face, and grins, admiring the close shave he's given himself?

Huh?

When I'm shaving, I'm scraping a razor across my face, bleary eyed, debating calling sick into work, and annoyed that I'm in a profession where under no circumstances would I be allowed to go around looking as shaggy as I would prefer to be. I fucking hate shaving. I want to grow a beard, I just can't look shaggy for the amount of time it would take for me to grow one. And then I get in the shower, to wash all the shit I have on my face, off.

I don't pat on a healthy palmful of aftershave, and grab my clefted chin. I trip towards the shower and turn the damn thing on. And debate calling sick into work. And decide I'm not going to fucking shave off that hair I missed under my nose, because... fuck that noise.

So, again, another thing that no one does. Just like no one tucks into a Stouffer's frozen panini, and then visibly savors the first bite with lots of satisfied smiling and slow head-shaking.

Are you ready for the gravy?

You sure?

Okay.

Here it cooooomes!

Here comes the gravy train!

The second-to-last scene is a shudder-inducingly incestuously homoerotic shot of a father and son in the bathroom, standing at twin sinks, where the father casually tosses a glass bottle (unannounced) of Aqua Velva, to his son who catches the bottle and says, "Cool!"

They're both wearing T-Shirts and... sweat pants? No pants? Who knows.

That just seems wrong.

The father has a towel jauntily thrown over his shoulder.

God, are they wearing pants? That's so weird. Show me that they're wearing pants.

No one shaves together. That's weird. Bathroom time is BATHROOM TIME. Alone. Co-shaving? Eeeeeah. I never shaved with my father. I've never shaved next to anyone... And if I was in the bathroom when someone else was shaving, I would probably feel like I was intruding -- And then I'd make up some excuse like, "Oh! I have to go buy some Velcro. Right now," or "I'm going to make sure that there isn't an iguana in the freezer, trying to get out," and I'd get out of the bathroom.

Also, can we talk about spontaneously hurling glass in a room where most surfaces are hard, and people like walking barefoot? It seems like a less-than-stellar idea.

The kid admires the bottle and beams "Cool!"

Cut, Print, Horrible.

"Cool?" Aqua Velva may be many things, but its most assuredly not, "Cool."

And then, we go back to more catch, and the slogan, "Aqua Velva. Men get it."

Aweeeeeee some.

4 Comments:

Blogger Rootietoot said...

right off the bat- I hate aftershave. Men shouldn't wear perfume, and that's all I have to say about that.

No, Dad never played ball with either of us. He did, however, teach us how to load a black-powder gun and use power tools. I think my brother watched him shave once or twice, and that made Dad nervous. I know he never let me watch him shave. Dad was (and still is) very cautious about anything even remotely sexual. I am convinced my brother and I were found beneath tomato plants in the garden.

3:42 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always see it and think "Aqua Vulva". Ick. Aftershave is like a douche for your face.

8:45 PM

 
Anonymous jb said...

LOL....I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one to feel weirdly uncomfortable during that commercial. Honestly, I'm surprised I even saw it, seeing as though I go out of my way to avoid watching commercials anymore.

4:40 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well my dad actually did play catch with me. I was a terrible, terrible baseball player, however. I couldn't hit. I ran the wrong way. I did occasionally catch a ball though!

12:33 PM

 

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