Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Excess of Mediocrity

I was watching the tube (Can we still call it that? I can, with my CRT array.) this morning when an ad for some sort of "hard soda" appeared. It led to a tagline: "LIVE HARD." Okay. Then a suffix slides onto the screen: "ISH".

I can see the meeting now. Hipster agency creatives, wearing berets and Birkenstocks, think they have come up with a smidge of genius: "Live hard." Then comes the counterattack of the Client Suits. "Well, we don't want to get too edgy here. Why can't we say 'hard-ish'?" Guess who wins? The agency folks clomp away to a Wes Anderson film festival while the execs celebrate their blandness.

No one admits to the fact that the target audience for said beverage is 15-18 year-olds with lopsided hair, skateboards and Doors t-shirts.

Wendy's now has Ghost Pepper Fries. Really? Do you think this faceless chain (now that Dave Thomas has passed into glottal-stoppage heaven) would ever put actual ghost peppers on spuds? They are hotter than Lucifer's autoclave. No, Wendy's food modifiers (I dare not call them chefs.) have found a way to dumb-down said peppers so that people in Iowa will eat them.

Even KFC tried their hand at Nashville-style hot chicken. From all accounts, the real deal is Dante-level hot. But in their TV spots, the Colonel's minions insert the disclaimer, "But not TOO hot."

No, this is America. We don't want it TOO anything.

Blandness rules. As I BookFaced earlier today, I wasted two hours of my life watching "50 Shades of Grey." This is a sleepy tale of a sadist rich boy who wants women. Mainly to turn them into punching backs and whipping posts. BUT, the mahoffs had to keep an R rating, so no real naughty bits are shown. From other sources, the book was plenty steamy. Plus, the plot, the acting and everything else around the film were of no merit whatsoever.

Let's water down what we can.

Is that SUV a Ford or a Hyundai? What does it matter? When I was a kid, it did. Cars had panache; they had variety, some excessive. We kids couldn't wait to see the next year's models. They were different. Which is a vile curse today.
Both 1959s. We knew the Chevy from the Caddy.

At a luxe wedding, an annoying photographer had all the guests assemble for a group shot. He artfully placed himself above us on a patio. Hooray! Toast! Joy! Well, enforced joy. In the final image, one person had his back to the camera, glass held high. When I got called on the carpet by the bride's mother. How dare I misbehave? I said, "How didja know if my back was turned?"

She said, "Ace, who else would it be?" I felt a frisson of pride.

Let's not poke TOO much fun. Let's keep the same old jokes. Every sitcom deals with a dysfunctional group, as if this is in itself funny. The lines aren't humorous, the actors wan. Just make someone fat, gay, nerdy or zombielike. That should be enough. Not.

Or, you could be brilliant like Ernie Kovacs, Mort Sahl or the Smothers Brothers.

Yes, I loved (and miss) the National Lampoon magazine. The rag was an equal-opportunity offender. Could any periodical run this cover today? Or an issue devoted to death?

Could Belushi do his Samurai sketches? Murphy as Buckwheat?

I can hear the disapproving "oohs" from here.

Playboy has stopped showing nude photos of comely lassies. What? Will Arby's go vegan? Victoria's Secret become prim?

Trump wants to rid our country of the differently-complected. Ted Cruz says rubbing one off will send you on a cruise with Charon across the Styx.

Country "music" screams beer, patriotism, Jesus, pickups and pontoon boats. And if you don't buy into this mouth-breathing lifestyle, you're not a true fan. Hank Williams and Conway Twitty never pushed their agenda on me. Chew tobacco, spit, indeed.

Whom is Bruno Mars going to imitate for his upcoming hit? He's already cribbed from Sting, Prince, Marvin, and the Brothers Johnson? Cowsills next, maybe?

I weary of the chorus of tweets of remote starters as people try to find their cars in the lot. I continue to buy off-brand petroleum jelly. I will ignore singing waiters. I still have yet to see The Sound of Music. I anxiously await the second season of Baskets.

You'll know where to find me. You've got my back in the photo.

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