Four Advertisements That Told You Bigger Damn Lies Than Usual

Advertising! It pays for things! Like TV shows about real housewives (made of plastic that have paying jobs) and cats from Hades! And journalism about similarly important affairs! Sometimes, FAMOUS PEOPLE star in it!  Its like seeing movies for free just with no plot and mostly Photoshopped to Hello! magazine headquarters and back rendering the celebrities dead-eyed and hollow! Celebrities in ads, they're just like us! Girl, I feel you on the "one leg bent outward to look skinnier" trick. THAT SHIT WORKS.

But advertising is  a cruel mistress and a minx. It draws us in with punchy copy and sexy models then makes us spend wages we're not earning on products that will render us neither sexy nor punchy. It transforms once lithe magazines into monstrous tomes and prevents us from getting straight to the "Anaconda" video on Youtube where we all belong.  It makes otherwise sane people develop crushes on a sociopathic human Eeyore named Don Draper as he waxes poetic with his convoluted word wizardry and day drinking.

Yet some ad campaigns have seemed to transcend all that hogwash and glitter and get to the heart of something deeper, some poignant note about the endurance of the human spirit in a vulnerable world. Surely everyone has been  touched by an ad that made them  feel a little more certain in an uncertain world. To those people, I'd like to introduce myself. I am a big wet blanket full of a dose of truth more potent than the case of smallpox that hippie family's kid is carting around because he wasn't vaccinated. Which is why I am about to ruin some inspiring ads that might have momentarily warmed that delicate fist-sized organ in your chest cavity.

 

 

THAT FRIEND THAT GOT YOU, FACEBOOK

Facebook has ads for Facebook on Facebook.  The one below recently emerged and  it was soooo cute because we all have that friend that just GETS ITS when you wear a miniature green cowboy hat. But Facebook is mostly not home to those types of friends. It is home to monstrous strangers that look like people you once knew.

This ad for Facebook was found ON Facebook. WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO CONVINCE?

You see, once upon a time, only an elite gang of private school brats and outlying bandits that craftily stole .edu email address with impunity were able to have Facebook accounts. Back then, it was super exciting to connect to someone you hadn't seen since junior high because it had only been like five years since you had seen them. Maybe back then, this ad had some truth. But the democratization of Facebook means that longer stretches of time pass between when you last spoke to someone and when you connect with them on the ole 'book.  Conversations nowadays go something like this:

Jean: Glory, Miranda! So great to get connected again! It has been an age!

Miranda: Hasn't it though? We had so much fun together on the pep squad! I can't even remember the last time we saw each other.

Jean: I think it was in 1988 at the 10 year reunion at the Marriott. You and Pascal had just returned from your honeymoon to the Corn Palace out in Mitchell.  What HAVE you been up to?

Miranda: Oh when our last daughter moved out, Pascal and I  sold the house and moved into a cabin where I run a vegan nihilist blog while he builds an empire on Etsy selling crafts made from squirrel bones. What about you?

Jean: I'm a professor at Columbia and spend most  my weekends hosting underground salon discussion where local elites plan a fascist coup to further fortify existing structures of power and lord over the unwashed masses...(PAUSE) I do love cooking with tempeh!

Miranda: Oh tempeh is on its way out, I'm much more vegetable than grain-based in the recipes for my blog that is ultimately pointless in this world void of meaning or any truly moral actors!(PAUSE) So....you always did have big ambitions! Salon discussions, huh?

Jean: That's what I fucking said, isn't it, you wood-dwelling peasant?

Miranda: Your revolution will fail, Jean. All the revolutions will fail.

(PAUSE)

Jean: You'll have to give me the link to your blog!

Miranda: Will do! Great catching up!

Jean: SAME!

IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING, ADIDAS

ali20adidas  Oh the old, "Let's put our transcendent word salad inspiration copy on top of a larger-than-life public personality and make it seem like she/he said it!" trick.  It is a sneaky tactic that has convinced people that Benjamin Franklin invented capitalism and that Harriet Tubman practiced yoga.  The "Impossible Is Nothing" campaign did it to a man (presumably with his estate's permission but STILL) with whom one ought not trifle.

First, because Muhammad Ali knows very well that there are a lot of things that are impossible. For example,  standing up to unjust wars  like the one in Vietnam and not paying dearly for it or recovering from Joe Frazier's vicious left hook. Secondly, because Mohammad Ali has made so many more pointed and blistering critiques of sports, society, race, and war that associating him with this drivel ought to be treason or something. Also, come on Adidas: "Impossible" has ten letters in it, which is just not that big of  a word.

 

EVERYTHING DOVE EVER SAYS ABOUT SELF ESTEEM, UNILEVER

The soap-sized gap between your daughter and her fully realized self.

Before Dove started their self-esteem workshops for girls, the world was a wasteland free of any ways of giving girls a sense that they were beautiful such as gentle and encouraging parenting tactics or movements designed to affirm them like Girl Scouts, sports, positive role models, books with strong female leads, feminist teachers, or a kind network of  friends. THANK GOD DOVE CAME ALONG TO GIVE THE FIRST DOSE OF BEAUTIFUL FEELINGS TO THESE GIRLS. It only took them so long because their parent company, Unilever, was working on its latest Fair & Lovely campaign to promote the popular skin-lightening products that exists because international beauty standards are still in a chokehold by insidious white supremacy so women all over the world put toxic chemicals on their skin to make it lighter.  The good people at Unilever's ad team were also putting the finishing touches on a new Axe Body Spray advertisement where women dressed up in leather cat suits and crawled on the floor toward men as if he were a laser pointer because women degenerate into animals at the mere mention of Axe products. Girls are beautiful, women are sex-crazed cat monster people who could go down a few shades.

LIVE RICHLY CAMPAIGN, CITIBANK

I get it, you guys have a really good copy team.

 

To be clear, I have mad respect for the entire horrifyingly effective Live Richly campaign that Citibank ran early in the century. It included other cutesy and feel-good ads like, "Money can't buy happiness. But it can buy marshmallows, which are kind of the same thing." It was all "hahahahahaha, we understand the neurotic and soul-crushing obsession you have with money, it really is hard to have those feelings. We get it. Come trade a smile. Buy a flower. Laugh harder. Sign up for a financial product that we'll earn obscene amounts of interest on. I mean...eat marshmallows. Yes, yes that's right. Sign at the bottom and initial where I've highlighted. There there, I'm sure she's going to call you."

 

The Week in White People: Macklemore, Yoga Girl, & This Hip Church in Bushwick

As something of a thought leader in Being a White Chick, I am often asked at my seminars, "Ms. Massey, what is the best way to prove that you're one of the enlightened whites? You know, one that isn't racist? One that gets it." The best answer is, "Um, why do you have to prove that? Hand-wringing white guilt that opens every sentence with the qualifier, 'I know this comes from a place of white privilege, but....' is NOT THE LOOK.  Just recognize when you have a racist thought (because you WILL) and try to source it and correct it.  You're never going to get it entirely anyway. No, not even if you do a misguided stunt in blackface for an extended period of time and write a thought piece. Haven't we been over this on the Internet?"

But ladies and gentlemen, I am a lifelong runner-up so I don't give the best answer.  I give the SECOND best answer, "Oh, make fun of fellow white people doing things way worse than you."  And that, dear friends, is what I have done below.  But first, a bit of background...

So this story actually begins last Monday when Dasha Zhukova, girlfriend of bazillionaire and real-life  Bond villain Roman Abromovich, posted a photo to Instagram of herself in a racist chair to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. Just kidding, it was to be stylish and edgy and it was disgusting.

Behold:

"But it's art!" they cried. And nary a soul believed them.

Several white Americans, feeling nostalgic for the Cold War and getting jazzed about the Winter Olympics, were like  "Oh hell no, Russians are trying to outdo us in our home turf of doing-racist-things-but-pretending-they're-not-racist-at-all."

These are their stories.

MACKLEMORE

I regularly listen to exactly one song by Macklemore and one song by Kendrick Lamar. One compels me to sartorial penny-pinching and the other makes me think I have it in me to one day be a real badass. Both are important feelings for different occasions.  But the fact is, I have no opinion one way or another on which album deserved all those Grammys. I'm a woman of the 21st century so I watched the Grammys on Twitter instead of the TV and according to my sources, Macklemore didn't deserve it.

Street cred.

"Macklemore isn't the Grammy judging panel! What could he do? Go SEAHAWKS!" the fans raged against his detractors.  They raged back!  The patients were running the asylum.  What the fans said was true about him not being on the panel.

He is just the guy that wrote a very popular rap song that mocks the (primarily black) rappers that name-check designers and uses the word "MAMMY" in it as if that is just a totally unloaded term that refers to grandmothers.  AND NOT EVEN TO RHYME WITH ANYTHING.  But back to,  "What could he do?"

Well, he could take a cue from Ving Rhames in 1998 (which more people should do by the way) and give his award away to the person he sees as more deserving in a more authentic show of humility and connectedness to issues of equality than I don't know...a massive stunt wedding?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tk3EgDPZD0w

SKINNY WHITE YOGA GIRL

As a seasoned veteran of acting the fool on xoJane and witnessing others do the same,  I thought I had seen it all. But this xoShitshow of an article set a new standard in race-based speculative fiction.  It chronicles the tearful ordeal of a self-described "skinny white girl" seeing an overweight black woman at...wait for it....YOGA CLASS.  Below are some gems.

Animated because no one has ever actually seen a black woman do yoga in real life before.

"Before we made it into our first downward dog, she had crouched down on her elbows and knees, head lowered close to the ground, trapped and vulnerable"- So, "trapped and vulnerable" are generally terms used to describe frightened animals in captivity.  Off to a great start, carry on.

"Even when I wasn’t positioned to stare directly at her, I knew she was still staring directly at me."  How did you know that?  You just made that shit up.  I'll let Julia take it from here.

tumblr_lwh7l0YZCM1qb9pa3o1_500

"Over the course of the next hour, I watched as her despair turned into resentment and then contempt. I felt it all directed toward me and my body."  Right, she was totally thinking about you. You specifically (not any other person in the class) wield the incredible power to generate DESPAIR AND CONTEMPT  by doing an enviable Warrior II.  On a related note, you might find this test useful.

"I thought about how that must feel: to be a heavyset black woman entering for the first time a system that by all accounts seems unable to accommodate her body." Again with the making shit up, Jen! Did she tell you that this was her first time at yoga when you introduced yourself and offered to help her? Oh wait, you didn't do that you went home and cried about it.  Also, yoga is perfectly able to accommodate her body and any other.  It's your myopic vision of what yoga done well looks (by a thin white person) that can't accommodate it.

The good news is, we got the genius parody "It Happened To Me: I Saw a White Girl on the Train and It Was Not Okay" out of it.  The bad news is everything else about this.

HIP CHURCH IN BUSHWICK

"Oh, she's not going to make fun of a nice well-intentioned little church in Bushwick, is she?" they cried.  NONE ARE SPARED HERE. This article in Bushwick Daily profiles a new Episcopal church that has popped up in Bushwick to meet the spiritual needs of Christian transplants to the area.  It was started by a lady named Kerlin which I like because it rhymes with "Merlin." It's also super refreshing that the church website is unabashedly Jesus-centric unlike young churches attempting to be relevant through vague terms about fellowship, volunteering, and folk bands.

Not an actual photo of the cool church in Bushwick.

According to the author who visited the church, almost the whole congregation is white and they do that thing where they mess with the liturgy to keep it hip and reflective of the creative class that makes up their audience.   They sell beer at coffee hour! There's a band!  But the fact that it is my nightmare church does not make any of it racist.

What caused me to side-eye was this: "Kerlin says that at least part of the reason why she felt the need to start Bushwick Abbey was related to the fact that new parishioners who might have loved the predominantly Afro-Caribbean congregation further in to the neighborhood might not have the access that they would like...."

Right, you know those white Episcopalians who are really into the worship style and spiritual flavor of an Afro-Caribbean church to which they totally relate because their cultural contexts are so similar to those of the parishoners. Come the fuck on.  You built the church because young, affluent, and usually white Bushwick residents are very unlikely to feel at home in an existing church in the neighborhood.

A Week in White People: Macklemore, Yoga Girl, & This Hip Church in Bushwick  httThis is a case not of outright racism but a failure to admit the racial dimension of the decision.  Worship communities are notoriously segregated.  There is too much complexity and history to do justice to the issue of why people often choose to worship alongside members of their own racial group in a single blog post.  But in short, it is FINE if you are there to meet the needs of the changing demographics of a neighborhood.  You don't need to pretend that hundreds of years  (that are ongoing now too) of racial groups having very different experiences with and relationships to authority, power, faith, spirituality, and the holy didn't transform the way communities worship.  Don't blame the L train ride further into Bushwick.

In case you're wondering if this is going to be another banner week for white people acting foolish around race, worry not. Now that it's February, we get a whole month of white people complaining that there's no White History Month.

I Just Can't With You, Racist Beauty Products

Look, some of my favorite people are white people.  Truly, I can't get enough of 'em. I have a white mom! A dad too! And a white best friend! But I am a little sick and tired of the beauty industry telling everyone that they should try to be as white possible. I recently barfed with my eyes when I saw THIS: racistproducts

High five, beauty industry, you've outdone yourself this time with the blatant advertising of a skin-lightening cream. I've seen some more nuanced attempts to market skin-lighteners before in the US, but never with such obviousness, NAY, chutzpah! They really just went for it here, right?

But there is some silver lining in this I suppose.  I saw this product in Carroll Gardens and SPOILER ALERT: The people there absolutely cannot get any whiter so no one is going to buy this shit.  See you in the clearance bin, jerk.