Monday, October 27, 2008

Four Random Thoughts About the New Guitar Hero Commercial


  1. Activision isn't fucking around. The Guitar Hero crew really went to the mattresses in rolling out, in grand fashion, their latest bid to reclaim the fake instrument playing throne that they originally founded. In an obvious show of wasteful ostentatiousness, they decided to get the four greatest athletes of their respective sports (I guess in the case of Tony Hawk, historically the greatest) to come together to promote a product that has absolutely nothing to do with sports! The closest example I can recall of a comparable accumulation of such talent are those Gillette ads (although Theirry Henry could hardly be called the Woods or Federer of soccer) and possibly ProStars (with Bo Jackson playing odd man out). The ball is in EA's court now for Rock Band 3. Movie stars? Astronauts? World Leaders? Decades down the line when we're all old and gray, we'll be telling our grandchildren, in a manner much like a Werther's commercial, about what life was like during the eventual plastic fake instrument playing Cold War that consumed the world.
  2. Why "Old Time Rock and Roll"? I guess the better question might be: why Risky Business? It's iconic, widely recognizable, and I guess it's associated with fun and cool (in an outdated 80s sort of way); but in the end it is one joke that goes absolutely nowhere after the big slide-in introduction (now if Rebecca De Mornay shows up and they run a train on her, that'd be compelling advertising). Also, I don't know about you but outside of the context of a single teenager cutting loose after being left home alone by his parents, four guys doing the whole dancing around the house in their underwear thing comes off a touch homoerotic. I'm also not sure if the use of a such a stale, anti-progressive, aggressively rockist anthem like "Old Time Rock and Roll" is really the sort of song you want to attach to something being promoted to todays music consuming youth. You better believe Bob Seeger would have objections to some of the "non-authentic" rock acts in the game like Michael Jackson, 311, or perhaps even Steely Dan.
  3. Poor Tony Hawk. Does he really have to come out in a helmet and skateboard? You'd figure being the biggest name in his sport and making billions of dollars through video games and other licensing deals would warrant some degree of recognizable celebrity. They didn't make A-Rod wear a baseball cap or Phelps where swimming goggles. Is he that much of an anonymous white dude that they need flagrant signals directing people to who he is? On top of that indignity, they made him the drummer of the band. Granted, drums are definitely the funnest fake instrument to play (at least until someone gets around to creating the fake theremin) but it comes at the cost of being the most overlooked member of the group. While I know Kobe and A-Rod's massive egos could never be constrained to the back, I figured Phelps being the youngest should differ to the veteran. Which brings me to my final point...
  4. Michael Phelps really can't act. He may be the greatest Olympic athlete of all time and has more gold medals than I have shoes, but the man can't act his way out of a kiddie pool. He always seems to lost and uncomfortable during every media appearance. Despite the writers and producers' best efforts to idiot proof his hosting gig on SNL, it was still a powerfully painful experience to watch. Every time I see him in something with that vacant, goober, semi-smile, I start to become more and more convinced that he's actually borderline retarded, but just happens to be a total idiot savant at swimming. He has yet to prove me any differently. I can only imagine the fascinating challenge faced by his publicist: to promote an immensely talented, inhumanly gifted athlete that lacks a single ounce of charisma.

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