Saturday, January 22, 2005

Honest Advertisments

This is an old one, but I'm probably more pleased with this article than many I've written since. It's a bit of speculative writing about what commercials might be like if advertisers actually, y'know, told the truth.

MAN AD
Men! Buy the new man product! As you can see from this shoddy CGI
mockup of the product, it's all streamlined and stuff, like a jet
fighter plane, which, according to our half-arsed psychological
profiling of your beergut demographic, is what still appeals to you, as
you seem to have ceased to develop emotionally somewhere around the age
of 14, and relate to everything in terms of shiny things that kill
people. Rad!

Look at this guy who's using the product right here. He's really big
and buff, and has a standard issue bland FHM underwear model for a
girlfriend, BECAUSE OF THE PRODUCT! He wouldn't be worth shit without
the product, and neither are you, so quit being a homosexual loser and
buy it. Also, from the same manufacturer, try out our new power tool!
It's a cheap piece of shit manufactured for pennies in a Far Eastern
country whose name you probably couldn't pronounce, but hey, it
purports to be made out of the "same metal as the SR-31 spyplane" and
IT LOOKS LIKE A GUN! A gun, which you associate with power and
virility, because it, in turn, looks like a penis!

And look, the battery pack sort of slots into the handle as well, just
like the magazine on a gun! So, you have exactly NO right not to
confirm your heterosexuality by buying this product. As a matter of
fact, if you do not buy it within a randomly set time limit, we will
have the government officially change your sexual orientation to gay.
There is no other way this can be avoided.

DEBT/INSURANCE AD
It's a weekday, it's noon, and you're at home watching Channel 5. If
you were a productive member of society, you'd be too busy working
right now to be watching repeats of Magnum PI, so we can only assume
you are a Ben Elton-style poor student, debt-wracked unemployable loner
or old person with nothing to do other than while away the uneventful
hours of the only life you'll ever have by watching Tom Selleck ponce
around Hawaii in amusingly outdated clothing. You derelict.

Anyway, look, we're offering you the chance to be free of your
debt/insurance worries by way of this really shittily produced advert
with no production values, starring a failed used car dealer who
couldn't sell nukes to North Korea. Call this number now and be treated
with palpable disdain by our telephone operators.

Yeah, they're poorly-trained no-qualifications scum, but even THEY can
get a job, unlike you, you fat fucking failure. Anyway, they will be
happy to help you pay their frankly slave-level salaries by keeping you
on hold listening to shitty synthesizer music for minutes at a time,
each and every second of it chewing up what precious little coins you
have left, as you sit there patiently waiting, hoping, praying that we
can help rebuild the life and the dreams you so hilariously demolished
with your gambling and your drinking and your good old down-to-earth
basic stupidity.

Well, we can't do that, we aren't fucking miracle workers, but we're
more than happy to take your money away in order to make you feel like
there's hope. Which there isn't. Face it, if you actually weren't
scared off by the awful production values of this advert, you fucking
deserve it, don't you.

MOBILE AD
Hello, we are The Benign Phone Company, and we are here to inform you
that your mobile phone - whichever type or however recent it may be -
has reached its programmed obsolescence is now officially out of date
and sad, and will self-destruct in four minutes.

You risk immediate social ostrasication and exclusion from local
nightclubs unless you upgrade to a newer, shinier model with more
exorbitant-price-justifying extraneous features that you don't fucking
need. Look, our phone can play shitty Java games and send out pictures
and stuff. Can yours do that?

Of course it can't, it's rubbish, just like you. See, just like your
hideously overpriced clothes and £80 haircut, your phone is an external
indicator of your worth as a person, so if people see you walking
around with that shitty World War II field telephone of yours they will
immediately know you are sad and worthless.

Anyway, buy the fucking phone because if you don't, all your mates will
think you are gay and nobody will fancy you and the sky will fall.

Also, you can now show what an individual you are by being like every
other cunt and spending large amounts of money to have the privilege of
downloading ironic bleepy renditions of the signature themes to 1980s
television series, so that next time your mum calls you to ask what you
want for dinner, everyone in your immediate vicinity (IE, the luckless
twats who have to put up with your mindless chattering for an entire
bus journey) will know what a groovy, irreverent, postmodern
being you are, as the distinctive tones of the theme tune to The Fall
Guy are piped out cheerfully from your little box of joy.

Either that, or they'll think you're an intensely aggravating prick,
and then secretly entertain cathartic fantasies about shoving the
sodding phone down your stupid little gullet and tightening the
hands-free wire around your neck, you fucking sheep. Jesus, you so
utterly deserve the brain cancer we're giving you with these things.

COSMETICS AD
Hello, demographic. We are here to sell you back the self esteem that
we've been robbing you of for years with our images of unobtainable
physical perfection and lifestyles you couldn't possibly dream of
leading.

Come, buy our vastly overpriced toxic slime, daub it on the relevant
bodypart, and feel the glorious warmth and sureness endemic to being a
fit-in identikit clone with as much individual worth as a brine shrimp.
Remember, you're shit without us, so show us some gratitude, even
though we're the ones responsible for the total lack of self-worth that
you're now trying to alleviate by throwing money at us to have the
privilege of squirting harmful chemicals all over yourself. By the way,
we've craftily formulated this stuff so that over the years it makes
your skin prematurely pallid and wrinkly, so we can sell anti-ageing
cream to you. Yes, we really are that cynical.

Frankly, it's like we're repeatedly bum-raping you with a molten iron
rod and then expecting you to be grateful when we sell you
anti-inflamation cream for your horribly swollen ringpiece. But hey,
what else are you gonna do? NOT FIT IN?

GIRL POWER AD
News just in, female drones! Our executives have informed us that
you're now culturally allowed to be independent and empowered and gutsy
and butch and empowered and powerful and gutsy (as long as you conform
to pre-determined gender stereotypes at the same time).

So, there's never been a better time to show how independent you think
are by buying our shit merchandise in order to help you look like every
other shrieking airheaded highstreet-blocking tracksuit enthusiast.
And if that doesn't float your boat, here: some comedic images of men
being stupid, fat and innefectual! Haha, they are mentally inferior to
you, and clumsy, and cannot satisfy you sexually, so show them how much
more intelligent and sassy you are by buying our product. You
simpleton.

Don't get us wrong or anything, we're GLAD that society pretends you
egg-carriers are equal now, as that means you are now just as open to
exploitation as your dick-having counterparts, and we can explore a
whole new marketing dimension in selling harmful shit to you at
obscenely inflated prices in order to make you think you're making some
sort of right-on, proactive feminist statement about yourself, ignorant that you are merely filling our coffers whilst demonstrating the concrete fact that you're just as fucking moronic and open to suggestion as the slope-browed halfwits you claim inherent superiority over and yet allow yourself to be violated by every night.

INDIVIDUAL AD
Individuals! You're edgy and cool and you don't dance to ANYONE's tune,
save for the recording artists we've informed you are not entirely as
mainstream as the many thousands of others we own.

Anyway, if you think you're badass and independent and soforth, check
out this way-cool new product, designed specifically with YOU in mind,
which for the first time ever allows you to assert how Acceptably
Different you are whilst the product's nice shiny corporate-approved
label shields you from social exclusion on the grounds that while the
product is percieved as making you DIFFERENT, that difference is
APPROVED OF by us and therefore must be "okay".

Afterall, it stands to reason that we - a bunch of fat balding boardroom jockeys in our fifties - tell the young people what's cool. Of course, there's not
just one Individual Product. There's thousands, all of them tailored to
appeal to the tastes we've assigned to you.

For example, here's some "power ade" drink or whatever, targeted
directly at Extreme Sports fanatics, accompanied by footage of really
cool Vin Diesel clones surfing down mountains in much the same way as
we surf the zeitgeist we ourselves have engineered, by associating our
silly drink with extreme physical exertion, though we know that you'll
most likely end up drinking it on the sofa in order to keep yourself
awake long enough to watch late-night ice hockey on Channel 5.

The more critical-minded among you might cluck your tongues in right-on
dissaproval of this sales pitch, but don't worry, we've thought up a
way of exploiting you too! You can rail against us and still consume
objects, as one of our many millions of subsidiaries peddles a range of
products with super-ironic "anti-establishment" slogans plastered on
them, so you can enjoy the euphoria of making consumer purchases safe
in the misinformed knowledge that, by paying an sizable extra chunk of
money for the Che Guevara picture on your T shirt, you are somehow
battling against consumerism. Ain't it great? We've manipulated the
very fabric of human society so that to have your opinions on our
bloody-minded market strategies actually heard, you have to give us
MORE money than if you just kept quiet!

Sorry pinko, but you've lost already. Just accept it, knuckle down to a menial job, and life will be far less painful.

FAILING MULTINATIONAL FAST FOOD CHAIN AD
Hello! We've been plugging up you and your children's guts with
densely-packed meat products for 30 years, and unfortunately we're now
facing financial ruin because you've gone and started thinking about
what you eat, and realised that shovelling forty pounds of cow into
your gaping mouths every day might consign you to an early, very wide
grave.

You're right of course, we've been indirectly thinning out your ranks
(if not your waists) all this time, and now that you've finally
cottoned on, we're buggered if we don't come up with a fresh sales
pitch.

So here's a selection of images in which bunch of thin, impeccably
dressed, impossibly beautiful and ethnically coordinated young people
dancing to sodding Justin Timberlake whilst deriving orgasmic levels of
enjoyment through buying ghastly-looking comestibles from a ludicrously
idealised vision of one of our outlets - instead of being halfway
realistic about it, ergo hate-riddled bovine Kappa-wearing dimwits in
place of the cool teenagers and instead of the perfectly clean, sterile
food-o-matic, a poorly-managed rat colony staffed by slave-wage Orcs
who are entirely willing and able to contaminate your food with any
number of their own byproducts in order to derive a fleeting spark of
spiteful enjoyment in their otherwise hopeless, hate-soaked lives. Frankly, we deserve to crash and burn like the soulless evil scumfucks
we are, don't we.

POST-CHRISTMAS DETOX AD
Hey there, bloodbags! Now, you've been very greedy over the holidays
haven't you. You've been obediently shoving your face full of our
food-like products like we told you to throughout the festive season,
but OOPS! you've gone and developed a noticeable moon-belly, which of
course is unacceptable as it doesn't fit in with the image of physical
perfection you're meant to aspire to.

It would be remiss of us not to exploit the poor physical condition
we've imposed upon you, so here's a selection of dietary/exercise
products we've had lined up since before Christmas. Look, for example
here's that Atkins Diet that everyone's still using even though they
KNOW it ends up fucking killing you, and over there's a ludicrous
"exercise belt" device which we PROMISE will let you shed the pounds
without having to actually make an effort - and more where those came
from! Soon, you - yes, YOU can look vaguely like the contrived
pod-people whose social interactions you vicariously live through
whenever you watch your preferred soap/drama/docusoap/docudrama/Big
Brother knockoff.

And won't that be GREAT?

Of course it will be - you'll be happy for a while because you think
things are going to get better, and we'll have made a fuckload of money
off you in exchange for exercise and diet programs which not only don't
work, but ACTUALLY DO YOU GENUINE PHYSICAL HARM!

Don't worry, you'll sweat off the extra pounds over the year performing
your Assigned Physical Labour, so you should be back to the way you
were before last Christmas just in time for NEXT Christmas, so we can
make you fat again and then sell you the same shit slightly repackaged
until the endless gorging makes you die.

Oh, don't worry about our market dwindling. By the time we've killed you, we'll have conditioned your children to want the same bullshit. That's presuming you manage to breed. Isn't much chance of that if your trouser size stays like THAT
eh? Nope, nobody's gonna want to shag you while you're in that state.
Better get buying quickly or you're never gonna get any! No rutting
until you've paid us for the privilege, lardo. Happy new year!

THAT BLOODY BBCi ADVERT WITH JENSON BUTTON
Hi everyone! Ain't TV just neato? I mean, you're watching it right now
and aren't you enjoying yourself just watching this advert for the
millionth sodding time? Sure you are! If you weren't, you might be
moving or thinking and that'd be intolerable. So, what if TV could
somehow be even BETTER? Well, hold onto your seats, `cause here's the
Formula 1 driver voted "most likely to be mistaken for a bit of
plywood", to tell you: YES! SLIGHTLY! And look, we've kindly written
his name on the back of his chair so you know who the hell he is if you
don't happen to follow sports.

Yes, it's Jenson Button, the man with a voice which still sounds robotic when compared Stephen Hawking's voice synthesizer. He's here to exhort you to use our silly new "teletext-with-pictures" BBCi service, and we're aiding him in his mission by giving him a script which absurdly compares the experience of watching the telly with that of being in a Formula 1 race, on grounds that both activities involve sitting down and looking directly forwards.

He's a celebrity and therefore a VOICE OF AUTHORITY. He knows what he's talking about!

Well, he doesn't really. If he had any kind of self-respect he'd have
rejected the script outright as absolute fucking bullshit of the
limpest kind possible, but big heavy bags with pound-signs on the side
have a tendency to loosen people up.

So just sit back and enjoy as he sits in front of the telly and mumbles his way through his lines in earnest attempt to make it all seem high-tech and sophisticated, even though he apparently farts halfway through the advert.
This is to fool the more gullible among you into thinking that by
sitting in front of the TV and growing your beer gut, your life will
miraculously become as eventful and exciting as Jenson's, without
having to have any specific talent or make any kind of effort, like he
does.

I mean, Jesus... sure, he can't really talk and he's more bland
than a stack of ceiling tiles stapled to Ben Affleck, but
at least he can do something obscenely dangerous and do it competently.
You people make me sick. What do you want from us? Happiness? Sorry
love, it isn't that easy.

Give us some credit, it's a bit difficult trying to make YOUR life seem
exciting. It's the best we could do. You want true excitement? Go out
and look for it, you pissant.

IRONIC AD
Hello, we're clued up and funny and clever, so instead of trying to
shill our product to you by saying it's great, we're making fun of it
in order to make it appear that we have a sense of humour or even a
soul!

Of course, we don't actually have either of these, we've worked
in marketing for 20 years, and our humanity has long since been
replaced by a nigh-instinctual obligation to stuff our collective
gaping maw with as much of your paltry wages as possible. Anyway, here's
our product in an amusing/unusual situation, isn't it hilarious?
Hahahaha. Oh, hohohohoho. Hoho. Hah. Wah. Waaah. AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGH.

For Christ's sake, I want my soul back. Get me the hell out of
marketing. What the fuck have I done with my life? I can't even
remember the last time I looked at a bed of roses or a wisp of cloud or
a giggling child and thought about it in terms other than how I'd stamp
it with an ugly logo and sell it to you in order to add a few more
zeroes to my annual income. Yes, I am rich. Yes, I have a big house, a
Ferrari, a wife half my age and a mistress half HER age, but I am no
longer capable of relating to anything or anyone in human terms. I am
vacant. Utterly empty. I could have been an artist, or an explorer, or
a great thinker, but instead I sold my soul to the church of Capitalism
and for my efforts I have been stripped of all that makes me a person.
Forgive me, mother. (Sound of muffled sobbing followed by single gunshot and dull thud of body hitting floor)

YOGURT AD
Buy yogurt, cunt.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Books in the Bookshop

by Benneth

Aren’t modern bookshops great? You can step into one on any high street in Britain and almost be guaranteed to find the section of the shop where the book you want should be, wonder to yourself how such an enormous chain of shops can so consistently fail to stock the book you want, and then leave. The average high street book shop can be a confusing place, what with all the different genres of literature available - some large shops stock in excess of three or four different types. So to help you identify and understand all these varied volumes, here’s a handy guide which you can cut out and keep, or just use as kindling when you set fire to a suspected paedophile’s house.

CHICK LIT
Chick-lit is SO in right now, what with the second in the series of Bridget Jones films and the popularity of Sex & The City continuing after its cancellation. So, there’s never been a better time to jump on the bandwagon and aid the cause of sexual equality by writing yet another novel about some insecure and frumpy thirtysomething (let’s call her Bridget Clones) whose dreams are fulfilled when she’s "rescued" from her life of secretarial drudgery by some dashing and wealthy hunk - but not before two hundred pages’ worth of padding constructed from achingly postmodern social comedy and jokes about boys and makeup. Generally speaking, the writers of such literature think they’re feminists, but don’t seem to notice that by endlessly "modernising" Jane fucking Austen over and over again, they’re basically promoting the idea that women are useless emotional wrecks who can only gain confidence and social status through buying shoes and marrying into wealth. Chick-lit novels are easy to find, as their covers invariably depict a cosmopolitan-looking woman riding a scooter through a European capital and being eyed by one or more square-jawed charicature males, all of which is drawn in the style of the Pink sodding Panther. Wish-fulfilment for sad thirty year old women, actually read by thirteen year old girls.

FORMULAIC FANTASY SERIES
Reading like an adolescent’s Dungeons & Dragons fan fiction (which it basically is), Formulaic Fantasy Series is a complete mythological cycle taking place in a coherent alternate universe created by an author whose literary vision is so brilliant that it takes about 40 novels to cover it all. Lever open one of these books (you may require a crowbar, these things are heavy) and inside you’ll find just about every fantastical trope you got bored of years ago - Dragons, castles, kobold-infested dungeons, elves, pointy-hatted wizards, muscular barbarians in loincloths and suchlike. With a few notable exceptions, fantasy literature is all exactly the goddamn same, and any new ideas an author may have to contribute are buried under the sheer weight of clich├ęd plotlines, stupid character names and page-long overdescriptions of violence and the heroine’s physical attributes. Cover art will usually incorporate an Amazon warrior woman wearing ridiculously skimpy armour that only covers up her breasts and crotch (it is well known that these parts are the woman’s most vulnerable organs, not the heart or throat or anything like that), framed by a generic fantasy landscape containing one or more badly-textured CGI castles which the artist knocked up on Bryce 3d. Author obviously regards himself as a modern-day Tolkien.

ULTRAVIOLENT SAS ADVENTURE
At the opposite end of the gender-stereotyping scale from the adventures of Bridget Clones is the boys’ own realm of the SAS Adventure. Conventionally they are written by men who claim to have been in the SAS, and choose to hide their identities, claiming that to reveal their faces would expose them to the stooges of all the evil dictators they singlehandedly overthrew during their colourful career as a top-secret ninja/assassin/fighter pilot/spy/sniper/commando/postman. The plot will usually revolve around some such supersoldier (who represents the author’s somewhat inflated idea of himself) becoming embroiled in some international terrorist conspiracy to detonate a nuclear bomb inside the Queen’s teapot. Along the way there’ll be lots of needlessly graphic violence and loving, nigh-pornographic descriptions of military hardware, all spawned from the author’s adolescent obsession with killing. Readership consists of paranoid military enthusiasts with concealed knives and very dull-looking businessmen on the train. Author’s actual military background consists of a brief, unhappy stint in the Boy Scouts.

RIPOFF TIE-IN COMEDY BOOK
Is your Channel 4 comedy series a success? Yes? Then you’ll be wanting to milk it for all it’s worth before everyone forgets who you are and you end up eking out a living by appearing on nostalgic clip shows. One way for comedians to do this is to release a book of their show, which consists of material they rejected from the actual show because it wasn’t funny, along with text versions of all your favourite characters and sketches, which are exactly the same as in the programme except the pictures don’t move. The Comedy Book is almost never seen being sold at full price, and usually inhabits the cheapest shelf in your local discount book emporium, languishing there for months and waiting to be bought as a birthday present for a friend you don’t like.

CYBERPUNK FUTURO CITY NOIR 2037
In a dystopian near-future ruled over by giant omnipresent corporations, one maverick computer hacker challenges the system. Yes, people really do still write books like this. The Cyberpunk genre should have died the moment the Internet became widely available and people realised that all it actually changed about society is that it helped them call eachother gay more efficiently, but writers still crank out hundreds of identical Cyberpunk novels. And people still lap them up, just like Formulaic Fantasy Series, because people like reading the same story over and over again but with the words slightly rearranged. My plea to the writers of these wastes of trees is STOP PRETENDING YOU’RE WILLIAM GIBSON, because you’re not and even he’s realised it’s no longer the 1980s and moved on to fresher literary pastures. So follow his lead and stop writing about cybernetically enhanced people who walk around in trench coats and take themselves too seriously. If you’re interested in those kinds of characters, just visit Birmingham.

THE LATEST THING
Have you read it yet? Oh, you absolutely must! It’s the latest thing! At some early stage in this book’s gestation, the writer signed some infernal document in their own blood, The Powers That Be thereby declared that it would become a record-breaking bestseller, and that everyone would spend their free time reading it and talking about it. The Latest Thing can belong to any genre - it doesn’t matter whether it’s about merciless criminals stabbing eachother in the head or a psychic milkman, it’ll be snapped up by anyone and everyone, because everyone else is doing it and they want to fit in. For several months the book will be all over the media, it will dominate the droning dinner party conversations of eminently shootable middle-class pseuds, it will silence all rational criticism with the sheer magnitude of its blanket marketing power. You may dislike it, you may openly rubbish it as terrible derivative old toss, but it won’t make any difference. Everyone has already been assimilated. You are alone in your opinion, your attempts to escape The Latest Thing are feeble. You may as well just hide in an old fridge for three months until everyone’s forgotten about it, at which time The Next Thing will appear. Still, at least it’s a book and not a sodding reality TV show.

HARRY SODDING POTTER
Possibly the most irritating thing since genital herpes, the Harry Potter books are the bastard offspring of the Fantasy Series and The Latest Thing. Ostensibly intended for children, the franchise actually owes its success to middle-aged adults who think it’s the best goddamned book they’ve ever read, even though they’re more than old enough to know that it’s exactly the same as The Worst Witch. This blindness extends to the broadcasters who see fit to give over a significant chunk of the evening news to advertising the books every time a new one is released, which is about every five minutes. It’s a familiar sight now - a sychophantic "entertainment journalist" heaps gushing praise on Ms. Rowling, as a queue of adults in fucking wizard cloaks wait patiently to have her sign their copies of the book. Because of this popularity amongst grownups, the publishers have released "Adult Editions" of the books - sadly that doesn’t mean they have swearing and violence in them, it just means that the cover has a suitably boring, grownup-looking picture on the front, so as to make a few more quid out of all the forty year olds out there who feel rightly embarrassed to be reading books intended for prepubescents. Actual children constitute approximately 0.7% of the books’ readership, as they’re too busy developing their battle rap skills and fucking eachother to bother with reading some old bollocks about boy wizards.

Post 1: The First Post

Well, hello. This is my brand spanking new blog, which I intend to use for inflicting my creative writing exercises upon you, the innocent and bewildered masses. I hope you'll all enjoy reading my inane bollocks. If you particularly like any of my articles then drop me a comment, as I am a whore for literary praise. Jah bless.