Tuesday, April 19, 2011

LaQuinta Ad Uses Cliche and Stereotype and Is Not Humorous

LaQuinta recently has been hawking the comfort of its hotels to business travelers with a salesman who leaves his room so refreshed that he is able to . . .

At this point, a large block of ice slams the table in front of two men dressed in a Hollywood fantasy of Eskimo garb.

The announcer suggests we all “Get a clue.”

“No one needs a clue” one of the ersatz Inuits says sourly.

Thus a tired cliché that isn’t particularly humorous is piled on top of a stereotype of Northern native peoples. The suggestion that listeners "Get a clue" simultaneously insults viewers' intelligence whilst suggesting that we are – wink, wink – smarter than the announcer so that we don’t need the clue.

Yes well of course, we out here in TV land are well versed in tired cliches, after all.

Particularly irritating is that the supposed Eskimo does not resemble any native American, which genetically are relatively hairless.

The man appears Mediterranean, South American, or Mexican -- but certainly not Inuit.

I can only hope that LaQuinta gets a clue and retired this ad soon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mayhem Actor Dean Winters: Why I Love Allstate’s Bad Boy

Actor Dean Winters injects just the right amount of devilish charm into Allstate ads in which he portrays Mayhem.

Even at an age when I'm old enough to know better, the sexy grin and knowing wink of a Bad Boy still has seductive appeal.

The series started with Winters portraying a curvy female jogger with headband described as awesome. An ogling driver ends up with his car wound around a post.

He manages to simultaneously portray and skewer a texting teenage girl who leaves a bashed fender in a parking lot. The sexism of these two ads has been protested.

As a longtime feminist, my take is not that Allstate is making a general statement about all females wearing pink or being shallow, anymore than it is saying that all garage roofs will cave in from snow. It is, after all, portraying mayhem, which is by definition, random and unpredictable – not stereotypical.

Part of Winter’s appeal as Mayhem is the glee with which he portrays the result from each accident. Even as he survives battering in each accident, Mayhem laughs with unfettered joy.

And isn’t that part of the appeal of the Bad Boy, laughing in the face of all authority figures?

Allstate’s Mayhem shows up undaunted from each mishap, sporting an increasing amount bruises, dirt on his face, torn clothing, and other signs of, well, random mayhem.

Winters intones moodily about how you and the snow on your garage roof are growing heavier – until eventually the roof caves in to Mayhem’s delight.

Mayhem chortling as he scrunches under the dashboard, a bandaid clearly visible, pretending to be the voice of an out-of-control GPS system. “Recalculating,” he cries out at the last possible moment, too late for the driver to avoid an accident.

I’m not the only viewer enjoying Winter’s performance. The Internet is filled with chatter of women who invite Mayhem to run into them.

Ah, the Bad Boy – the once and future prince of our hearts.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why I Love Florida: Scenes from St. Petersburg Skyway Show Gulf Beauty

Vistas of the Gulf of Mexico seduce the traveler to pause at a rest area.

It's hard to believe that a busy six-lane Interstate highway is just a few hundred yards away.

Gnarled trees spread their branches across the path in a natural arch.

A weathered log creates an elegant pattern of lines and curves.

Local residents park pickup cars in the shade. Boat trailers wait for day trippers to return with coolers of fish. Kayakers paddle in after a full day on the water.

The wind was stronger than reported, the kayakers tell me, which made rowing more challenging.

The wide purity of the blue water gleaming in the sunlight.

Trees at water's edge create abstract designs with their branches. It is illegal to cut mangroves in many places, because they create valuable ecosystems for sea creatures.

Scrub pine wave their feathery branches against the blue background. Color and texture, broad vistas and intimate byways, create the endless appeal of natural South Florida.

Try as we might to pave over Paradise, small bits and and pieces survive to inspire and delight.