If you’ve recently been to a movie targeted at 18- to 34-year-olds—Zombieland, say, or Couples Retreat, which are basically the same movie when you think about it—you’ve probably seen thew new “Go Forth” line of Levi’s commercials. The campaign involves a variety of spots for film, print and television, but the one I like best opens on a flickering neon sign half-submerged in floodwater. The sign reads, of course, “America,” and the ad proceeds—over a wax-cylinder recording of Walt Whitman reading his famous poem of the same name—to show us a series of slums, riots and scenes of rural poverty, intercut with shots of dirty children/manchildren running around in blue jeans, ending with the gunshot crack of fireworks and the admonition, “Go forth.” As usual, by “like best” I mean “am most disturbed by.” Video after the break:
If you’ve seen Easy Rider, you know that A) you shouldn’t just watch every movie your Intro to Film Analysis TA said was good and B) motorcycles are a symbol of rebel freedom. Harley-Davidson began building motorcycles shortly after the turn of the century, but it was their widespread use as messenger vehicles during World War II that imprinted on a generation of servicemen an indelible connection between riding, cigarettes, and trying to forget what you just did. After the Hollister Riots of 1947, when 4,000 bike enthusiasts turned a small California town into a slightly larger, much drunker California town, public hysteria over outlaw bikers ran high. Life magazine ran a scared/fascinated feature, Hollywood made a series of exploitation films culminating in The Wild One, and an icon of American counterculture was born.