Why is this commercial so wonderful?


It is a very specific culture that produces this auto insurance commercial, in which Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo, a man from Africa who played professional basketball in Houston, knocks various objects out of the air. It is an ultra-specific culture that finds it hilarious, as I do. Probably it is helped along by my predilection for slapstick. I submit that certain elements of it are pure art, though, such as the sequence in the grocery store aisle that begins at :16. Motumbo has to be standing so close to the kid to get that reverse shot, such that he becomes conspicuously absent from the shot preceding it. Your brain has to go backwards in time and add him in. It is a visual expression of the incongruity theory of humor—something that was itself technically impossible until about a hundred years ago—and it makes it.

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Friday links! Ascending order of weirdness edition

Google image search: "weird sausage." Nice to see Marilyn Manson is almost done with his studio art MFA.

American culture is such a particolored cavalcade of weird shit right now that it’s sometimes hard to believe in the standards of realism. Consider, for a moment, that the most vibrant movement currently afoot in our national politics believes that the first black president is a second Hitler, and that Hitler himself was a socialist. Or ponder the knowledge that, having failed to block health care reform with misinformation and threats of filibuster, Republican congressmen have begun to attack financial reform with misinformation and threats of filibuster. It’s as if a promising but unpracticed undergraduate creative writing student were currently writing the narrative of American politics, with all the characters acting too closely to type and an increasing number of surreal flourishes to distract us as the plot fails to cohere. In other words, it all seems kind of made up. In preparation for a weekend that will doubtless conform to natural realism more faithfully than we’d like, this Friday’s link roundup is devoted to stories that our too good to be true, arranged in order of decreasing plausibility. That their truth seems to diminish in as their goodness mounts is surely commentary on something, but it’s probably better if we don’t think about what. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the descent into an entirely fictionalized culture, built for our amusement with the lineaments of the real.

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