Saturday, 14 August 2010

Pop calling the kettle black

Music lovers everywhere are outraged that flagrant product placement is creeping into pop videos. In the latest example, a famous Italian sports car takes centre stage in a number produced by the so-called "Indie" band "Faith". Now, some in the music business have long considered modern pop videos to be little more than commercial tripe, engineered by cynical impresarios and starring well-connected fashion models, footballers' wives and third-rate porn stars. So perhaps everybody should simply "calm down".

Quite where this trend will lead however is anybody's guess. Can things really get any worse? We asked a famous film director and maker of various critically acclaimed car insurance ads to gaze into his crystal ball and to tell us what he thought the future might hold.

"Hello, a lot of people view me as one of the greatest film directors since Eisenstein, and I have to say I thoroughly agree with them. As a maker of such wonderful films as Battleship PotemKill, Citizen Maim, Deathwish in Venice and Gun with the Wind, I understand the commercial pressures major studios put upon artists such as myself. When I made Deathwish 9, I was asked to cast Larry Olivier as a gun-toting, Marlboro smoking vigilante who killed and maimed criminals purely for kicks. Instead I asked Charlie Bronson, a much respected Shakespearean actor sensitively to play the part of a tortured soul who mutilated New York's grimiest for none other than moral reasons.

"I have of course moved on since then and have made a string of successful car insurance advertisements entitled "Calm Down Dear", "Calm Down Dear 2 - The Sequel" and "Calm Down Dear 3 - The Prequel". The critics have appreciated the clever way I deal with the day to day tragedy of dented bonnets and pranged bumpers, and I have been asked to develop the series - even though I feel I should perhaps quit whilst I'm ahead.

"Still, were I to continue my e-sure franchise, I might take my ads into the realm of what I know best, namely the horrors of street crime and the punks that perpetrate those crimes. The best way to do this, I believe, wouldn't be to make more Oscar worthy commercials - brilliant though they are. Nor indeed would I want simply to direct a film that offered endless e-sure product placement. No, instead I would want an amalgam of the two.

"So, here's what I suggest for my next movie: The film, that will have a major cinema release will be called, "Calm the fuck down, you sonofabitch (dear). It's only a muthafukking commercial." I would love to cast Charlie Bronson but sadly he is no longer with us. So I would probably hire De Caprio or De Niro or possibly Brucey Willis.

"What happens is that Willis, or whomsoever I cast, accidentally drives his Pontiac into the Range Rover Discovery owned by a major drug dealer, played by someone like Snoop Dogg. The dealer beats the crap out of Willis' grandfather, played by an ageing thespian such as Ralphie Richardson, assuming he is still available. Then said dealer pulls a 9mm on Willis and says, "You gonna fuckin' pay for ma pranged bumper and ma injured pride, you sonofabitch?" And here's the great part: Instead of Willis doing the "Calm Down" routine, the camera cuts to me in my director's chair. I put down my cigar, I sigh and say: "Calm down, you utterly muthafukking street hoodlum. It's only a wretched fucking commercial." Whereupon everyone falls about in hysterics and is gripped by the compulsive need to buy e-sure motor car insurance."

And I sincerely believe that this is what the future holds. This is the way it will be from now on - I kid you not - for advertising... and for cinema... and for television... and music... and sport... and literature... and the newspapers... And you might be up in arms that our film industry, our music business, even our culture is going this way. But when it comes to culture in general, all I can say is: Calm down, dear... It's always been commercial."

"After all, it wouldn't see the light of day otherwise."

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