With the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday all crushed and conquered in our wake, we are now deep into the holiday shopping season. It's that special time of year, when we are constantly reminded that the perfect Christmas is just one Happy Meal/diamond ring/Lexus away. Time to take a moment and tip our hats to some of the most memorable pieces of holiday advertising.
No True Artist is any one thing. Not hero, not villain. Not God, not monster. Not snow-angel-making/love-theme-from-Top Gun-singing/light-beer-swilling/gloriously-bemulleted Arctic hedonist, not automatic-weapon-polishing/lone-wolf-hunting/murder-hungry psychopath. He goes where the Art takes him and does what the Art demands of him. And if it takes him to a distant mountaintop and demands he lie down in an icy drift to croon Berlin until he finds his Coors-sponsored Truth, so be it. Because in that transcendent moment, he takes our breath away.
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Alex Pappademas: Because apparently in 1986, one year after Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Milton Bradley thought kids ages 10 and up were old enough to contemplate a brutal post-apocalyptic wasteland future in which vehicular homicide is the only law: It's Thunder Road, you little assholes! I can't tell if there was any object to this game aside from occasionally picking up large sections of "road" and dumping everybody else's little muscle cars off the table, a feature I bet never, ever led to bloody playroom-floor brawls. But the off-brand Ted Nugent wailing the narration ("Only one surviiiiives!") over hot-rodding heavy-metal guitar definitely implies white-knuckle death-race excitement, as do the kid actors' super-intense, agonized game-faces. This is maybe the most coked-up-seeming board game commercial ever made; in the shot around the 20-second mark where they're all freaking out and pounding the coffee table it really looks like they've been awake for four days blowing rails and trying to muster the courage to go rob Alfred Molina's house.
Whether you're an ecstatic Giants fan, a bereft New Englander, or one of the seemingly 14 billion Twitter users who announced a total lack of interest in the "Super Game," we can all agree on one thing: Giant corporations spent the GDP of a failing European debtor state on commercials in the hope that people on the Internet would write stories like this one. And so, in fulfillment of our end of the implicit Super Bowl contract with the automobile manufacturers, monolithic breweries, and snack-food concerns who make bathroom breaks nigh impossible (what, you think we're going to pause the DVR and risk falling 30 seconds behind the tweets, you maniacs?), we're going to hand out a bunch of very, very prestigious awards to last night's advertainment spectacles, mostly in hopes this post will go viral and be sponsored by CareerBuilder.com's Depressed Office Monkeys next year.
Bill Simmons: This is my favorite Super Bowl commercial ever. Back in 1992, I desperately hoped it would start a trend of big brands using smoking-hot women to strut in slow motion while purchasing their products, a trend that should have started back in the mid-1980s when Tawny Kitaen was rolling around on top of David Coverdale’s Jaguar in the “Here I Go Again” video (even if that wasn’t an ad). Every television ad has one goal: to make us stop whatever we’re doing and keep watching the ad until its completion, while also noticing whatever product is being pimped (and maybe even subconsciously wanting to use that product). I’d argue that this Pepsi ad accomplishes that. Seeing Cindy in slow motion in her prime almost made me like Pepsi, a product that I’ve hated over the course of my life more than any product other than Heineken. Cindy didn’t spark a glut of commercials with smoking-hot women strutting in slow motion for no real reason whatsoever, but maybe there’s still time. I just hope Heineken doesn’t try this idea with Kate Upton.
Bill Simmons: I've always had a vague memory of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appearing in an Atari commercial in the late-1970s — a mental image of him sadly slumped on a seat as a little kid played Atari next to him, only he was dressed in his Lakers uniform and goggles and the whole thing was stupefyingly weird. If not for YouTube, I would have just assumed that I imagined the whole thing. But that's the great thing about YouTube — you can use it to confirm hazy memories, and almost always, they don't match up to what you remembered. In this case, the actual commercial was about 24 percent stranger than I remembered. A few months earlier, Kareem broke his hand punching Kent Benson in the face — apparently this commercial was part of his suspension. Now I'm wondering if my dislike for Kareem (he was my least favorite player even when I was little) drove me away from Atari and toward Intellivision. I mean, something caused me to become an Intellivision kid, right? I have it narrowed down to either Kareem or Carol Channing.