Friday links! This modern world edition

Minds more astute than mine have pointed out that the time machine must be impossible, because if it will have beeninvented, we surely would have had visitors from the future by now. Maybe, though, they just don’t want us to bore them with arguments about how especially crazy everything is now. Surely our present moment constitutes an ordinary broomstroke in the sweep of history, but it seems crazy and futuristic. Ours is an age shocked by its own novelty. Whether we’re lauding the world-changing potential of Twitter or decrying the precipitous fall of old-fashioned morality, we seem to be a nation out of time, blithely declaring each day the turning point we’ve all been waiting for or the final goodbye of the world we once knew. As Bob Dylan once said, the times, this is going to be a really short concert because I am super old. In preparation for the last weekend of the beginning of our lives, Combat! blog presents links to stories that indicate the onset of a new age, if only by our panicked resentment of the change. Won’t you turn a little of the future into the past with us?

Continue reading

Is it just impossible to sell a cell phone or what?


Everyone’s favorite Meghan Gallagher sent me the foregoing ad for the new Microsoft Kin, which promises to do for cell phones what Bing did for internet search engines. If you’re wondering, the song is by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, a band I liked without reservation before they sold their best work to a phone commercial and forced me to yet again consider how much of my aesthetic taste is aesthetic taste and how much is just contrary esotericism.* Anywhom, the ad has provoked an extremely small firestorm of controversy, due to allegations by Consumer Reports that it promotes sexting. You remember sexting, right? It’s the totally real thing that teenagers do all the time nowadays, when they’re not cyberbullying or attending rainbow parties. I quote intrepid CR reporter Mike Gikas: “The video…includes a downright creepy sequence in which a young man is shown putting a Kin under his shirt and apparently snapping a picture of one of his naked breasts. The breast is then shown on the phone’s screen, just before the guy apparently sends it to someone.” Needless to say, Gikas did not get away with referring to a man’s bare chest as his “breasts,” or, worse, “the breast,” and comments-section hilarity ensued. Despite the obvious sophistication of its reporter, the CR piece prompted Microsoft to re-edit the spot so as to remove the breaxting, as well as change the Kin’s slogan from “Send a grainy picture of your breasts or breast!” to “We’re all in this together!” Except, of course, those of us who are peering at our phones. Which brings us to Combat! blog’s question of the day: Is it just impossible to sell a cell phone or what?

Continue reading

Advertisers create new, empty word: love

This jar of marmite yeast extract spread loves you. It also points out that part of being in love is expressing it physically...

We here at Combat! blog have criticized the trend reporting at the New York Times in the past, but all is forgiven with today’s fascinating piece about marketers’ rampant use of the word “love.” Okay, not all is forgiven—we’re still pissed about their expose on the horrors of the Park Slope Food co-op—but at least this one has some verifiable information. It turns out that the Times is at its best when it’s writing about advertising, and advertising is at its best when it’s convincing you that the most profound human emotional experience can be replicated by using a Blackberry.  Car manufacturers seem to be the biggest purveyors of sweet nothings, here, with Honda, Subaru and Nissan all launching love-oriented ad campaigns in the last two years. The notion of people loving their cars is nothing new. Your car represents freedom, self-sufficiency, responsibility and socio-economic status, as anyone without a car will tell you. Anyone without a girlfriend will make a similar argument, so the connection between cars and love seems obvious—especially if you are dead inside. Consider the rationale offered by Michael Kuremsky, Vice President and Global Brand Franchise Leader at Olay: “We view Olay as a partner alongside women, so the emotional connection is Olay validating to a woman that we want to help her achieve her best skin, to get to a place where she loves her skin.” Tonight, darling, I will take you on a carriage ride around Central Park and validate that I want to partner alongside you in achieving your best handjob, ever.

Continue reading