Was 2014 more obnoxious than previous years? It seemed pretty obnoxious, but was it as annoying as the year when an asteroid killed off all the mammoths and everyone had to subsist on boiled dirt weed? Hard to say, I must consult the oral histories. But 2014 definitely had some things – trends, phenomena, people, machinations of the zeitgeist – we would prefer to leave behind as we bravely soldier on towards entropy. I don’t mean the big, obvious stuff, like pollution and war and bullying, just the persistent, vaguely annoying pebbles in the collective shoe, so to speak. Here’s a brief list.
I turn on the television, I get Geico ads. I try to watch a YouTube video, I get Geico ads. I watched planes fly around during Fleet Week in San Francisco, and no joke, there was a goddamned skywriter making a Geico ad in the sky. I literally can’t even escape Geico while drinking in a park.
Aside from the fact that most of Geico’s ad concepts are so idiotic they shouldn’t have made it from someone’s brain to their mouth let alone pass vetting from multiple adult humans (that “Old MacDonald can’t spell” ad, holy hell), they have an entire series of ads whose entire premise is how oversaturated we already are with their ads (“Did you know about Geico?” “Of course, everyone knows that”). First of all, no one with this much ad money to burn could’ve made it without raping their customers. They’re essentially admitting, “Yes, this business is absolutely a racket.”
Don’t hate them as much as I do yet? Watch this video where the ad creators congratulate themselves for their brilliant concepts:
They seem to have gotten rid of the guitar/mandolin duo in 2014, which was a great first step. Now, let’s finish the job and bulldoze the entire company into a volcano.
By the way, if you want to know how to make commercials that don’t annoy the piss out of everyone, take a note from Southern Comfort, who has the best ad department in the universe.
I don’t know if hops obsession in other places is as persistent a problem as it is in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, but around these parts, four out of every six beer taps is dedicated to an IPA. So many choices! Hmm, let’s see… do I want an IPA, a double-hopped IPA, or the quintuple-hopped hopsplosion limited edition dry-hopped hops growler served in a pine tree? If I ask a waitress what’s on tap, eight times out of ten the first words out of her mouth are “well, we have a really good IPA…” and almost every self-described “beer snob” lists five different IPAs as his/her favorite. Look, nothing against an IPA from time to time, but guess what! There are other flavors besides hops! If you’ll permit me an analogy, drenching everything you eat in hot sauce does not make you a Mexican food aficionado.
Most of their video concepts are based on finding some half retarded shut-in to sample something all normal humans have experienced. Then they zoom in on the person’s dumb face as he or she tries to come to terms with the concept of “Swiss cheese” or whatever. “It has… holes in it? Gosh, well that’s kind of… weird.”
Money quote: “I’ve never had syrup before.”
Nothing like watching a group of grown adults so intellectually uncurious they need a camera on them to try, say, drinking from a glass, or reading a book. “Gosh, I never thought to pet a dog before, is that what the fur is for? It never occurred to me.”
Other videos, you can’t tell if they’re just stupid, or actually offensive.
The worst part about them is that you wind up so infuriated that you want to send them to everyone you know as the perfect example of the decline of civilization, and then you realize your reaction was probably the point all along. Outrage sharing is baked into the business model. Now I have to feel guilty about my own indignation! Buzzfeed even manages to ruin hate-watching.
Corporate Drones Being Taught To Empathize
In case you missed it, this week brought us yet another nightmarish Comcast phone call.
Most of the focus seems to be on the fact that Comcast won’t honor their own promises even when you record them. Which is terrible, certainly, but not enough attention is being paid to the fact that every time the caller outlines a problem, the Comcast rep says something like “Well yes, I can certainly see why that would be a problem. I would be angry too if I were you, I am also a customer in many situations. I AM CURRENTLY EMPATHIZING, MR. ____. IF YOU ARE SATISFIED WITH MY EMPATHY PLEASE PRESS 4 TO TAKE A QUICK SURVEY.”