If you watch Hulu, as I do when my Critique of Pure Reason is broken, you have probably seen Grand Marnier’s “blend out” commercials. In the one above, everyone at the club is kind of bored by a jazz combo, until a young man reinvigorates them by mounting the stage and beatboxing along. Grand Marnier: drink a bunch of it and interrupt a public performance, probably to broad acclaim. It’s pretty much your standard alcohol-commercial excellence fantasy, (q.v. Heineken) except everyone in the club is black, and our beatboxer is white. Surely there’s a reason for that—but what?
First, I’m warning you right now that there is going to be way less Combat! blog than you want this week, yet way more than I actually have time to write. Here’s a pro tip for all you freelancers out there: tell everyone you’re going on vacation. I have received more projects labeled “emergency” since I went on vacation than I had previously gotten in my entire career. The next time you see me, I will be wearing a panda skin monocle. Second, the Theory of Taste promised in the headline is not the useful kind of aesthetic theory. It is a theory of my taste, which is notoriously bizarre. Ready? Yesterday, while inflicting an interpretive rendition of a cartoon I had seen six years ago on my brother, who has long since reconciled himself to such tortures, I realized that there is a through-line in much of the animated humor that I like: ultra-naturalistic dialogue and voice acting in the context of fantastic situations. I think that cartoons in which monsters, superheroes, space cowboys and other fantasy characters have to live in apartments and work at jobs are hilarious. Those of you once forced by the pursuit of English degrees to read the execrable Gabriel Garcia Marquez are familiar with the literary genre known as magical realism, in which key aspects of human consciousness go unaddressed in favor of love turning women into butterflies. That sucks. But what does not suck is the style of humor that I’m going to call Fantastic Naturalism.