Friday, September 25, 2015

Defunct and loving it

When I find a YouTube playlist called Commercials for Defunct Products I'm thrilled, but when I find out that this is a trove of 107 videos, each running 10 - 15 minutes, I am ecstatic and ready to begin firing up the gif machine.

In many cases I haven't even included the name of the product, but who cares? They gif up so nicely because they're unfocused and full of blips and those scratchy-looking things that have no name. There is quite a bit of repetition here, as most of them were taken out of that archive that I can never quite figure out how to use.

These videos heavily emphasize ads for obsolete cars, Studebaker and DeSoto among them;  Raleigh cigarettes (Raleigh coupons were the key to a good life in the early '60s and could furnish your whole house); more cereal ads than you even want to look at (including the fad of "fruit in the box", which must have been completely dessicated); and, of course, PREAM! I have given Pream its own post of gifs which isolate the reaction shots, in which baffled husbands (usually) have a "what the -?" look on their stupid faces, not knowing if their coffee is full of cream or powdered milk solids that don't dissolve worth a damn and probably sink to the bottom in a disgusting sludge.

There's one Pream ad that I just could not bring myself to gif: a shot of a whitish liquid squirting into a pail, with the announcer shouting, "Here it comes!" Turns out the guy was milking a COW, but. . .well. . . I won't say what it reminded me of.

These videos also include some of the oldest TV ads ever, obviously taken from kinescopes in the 1940s. TV back then was radio with pictures crossed with vaudeville, and the result was a bastard child that baffles us today. During ad time, the host of the show stepped out in front of the curtains (these shows were acted out live on-stage) and pushed whatever the sponsor was pushing, often home permanents or Stinko deodorant. (No, that's Stopette.) In one amazing clip, Arthur Godfrey sits on-stage with a massive headset on and radio paraphernalia all around him. Quite literally, radio on TV.

The ads show an interesting historical time progression:

- smudgy late '40s kinescopes of clowns running around on a stage;

- neat and tidy, Eisenhower-esque tableaux of families smoking Bel-Air cigarettes;

- spontaneous-looking early-'60s  ads involving "real" people talking into the camera while eating         cereal with dessicated fruit in it;

- "swingin' '60s" ads in hideous faded formerly-psychedelic colour;

. . . and finally. . . 

- '70s ads which are really very hard to describe, kind of like a frenetic polyester-clad high school musical.

One product, a deodorant called Tickle, looks exactly like a vibrator, sports an an "extra-wide ball" and depicts women giggling seductively with a voiceover saying, "Make yourself happy".

I'm only halfway through all these, not even, and I do them late at night. I made gifs all morning and don't have as many to show for it as I thought. The thing is, even with all the negative feeling I've had about Facebook lately, I had an out-and-out crisis when someone I've known since childhood posted a blatantly racist video about "the Muslims". That little word "the" obviously includes the entire category (though people deny it up, down and sideways - there's a lot of that going on these days).

So it's back to the gifs. If I do Facebook at all, I'm going to be VERY quick to unfriend and unfollow if anything bothers me even a little. It's my Facebook and I'll do what I want to. I will hide and chop and cut myself loose. I'm not going to read that list of comments down the side any more because most of them don't even apply to me, and besides, how will that make my life better? Some of the people I've been following are completely insane. One of them claimed to be married to the ghost of Louis Riel (even changed her Facebook status!). It was scary. And I am tired of people trying to argue me out of my opinions. Arm-twisting and veiled racist hate was never my cup of tea.

Dirty Aftermath. Oh OK. I'll show you the Pream commercial that made me wonder. It makes me wonder because when you milk a cow, the milk goes DOWN instead of sideways, and is usually done with two hands so you have TWO, well, what can I say, "spurts" going alternately. Don't you? Just what were they trying to show us here? This is made especially questionable when the announcer shouts, "HERE IT COMES!"

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