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Tony Grist

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I Know, This Is a Hobbyhorse Of Mine.... [Oct. 24th, 2007|09:23 am]
Tony Grist
Bob Dylan has always been inscrutable and surprising. As is acknowledged in the new Todd Haynes movie where five different versions of Dylan are played by five different actors- including Cate Blanchett. But I don't suppose he has ever done anything more bewildering to his fans than appear in the advert that's currently playing on American screens where he sits at the wheel of a horrible great gas guzzler and inscrutably mutters the words some adman wrote for him. So is this Bob the sphinx wrong-footing us again or merely Bob the greedy celeb pocketing his wad?  We'll never know and the pros and cons will be argued over by Dylan cabalists until the end of time.

But maybe Haynes needs to revise his movie and introduce us to a sixth Bob-  Bob the cold calling  salesman. Ideal casting would be the late Jack Lemmon at his sweatiest and most desperate.

Yeah, I'm annoyed. I know Bob has previous. He did a lingerie ad. But that was somehow so way out and cheesy you could pretend it never happened or that Bob was being satirical or something.  And while I know he's not a prophet I always thought he was his own man. I always thought I could trust him to speak to us in his own voice.

Are there any celebs out there prepared to take a principled stand on commercials? Yes, there are some. I saw a list once and I believe Jack Nicholson was on it. I think of Jack as a nasty, sleazy bit of work but I honour him for this.

I don't suppose I really go as far as Bill Hicks- "If you do an ad....you're off the artistic roll-call"; I'm not going to bin my Dylan CDs and if I refused to watch anything starring an actor who did ads I might just as well get rid of my TV. But it does sadden me when someone whose talent I respect pops up and tries to sell me something I don't want. Stephen Fry for instance. Stephen Fry is a permanent fixture on British TV. I think they must have passed a law that if he doesn't appear on screen at least once a day fines will be levied. He does drama, he does comedy, he does games-shows, he does documentaries. And he also does ads for Twinings tea.  He's a very rich man, he's a very busy man. What possible motive can he have- apart from greed- for doing the tea gig?

Maybe he loves Twinings tea. Maybe he loves Twinings tea so much he's giving his time and talent for free....

And then there's Anne Widdecombe. Anne used to be a government minister- with a reputation for being moralistic and bossy. She's a churchwoman. And recently she fronted a documentary where she was out on the mean streets of some brassy nighttown lecturing prostitutes and hoodies on the error of their ways. She was a bit of a joke and more than a little annoying, but there was never any reason to question her sincerity. Until now. Because now she's appearing in an ad for pasta. Anne the crusader becomes Anne the pasta salesperson. Doesn't she see how this wipes out everything she ever stood for, everything she ever did?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2007-10-24 10:15 am (UTC)
I've not seen the new advert- not much of one for tv ads.

But let me conjecture this - the moment Bob Dylan started performing for money, and accepting money for his songs, he became the kind of creature you're talking about. So are we all - except, I suppose, for you, because you don't have a regular job.

That sounds nasty, and I don't mean it to. We all have to live, and most of us have to live by working and being paid.

COTY offered Gordon Lightfoot some serious money for "The Last Time" (the last time I saw her face, her eyes were bathed in starlight and her hair hung long...) back in the days when he was barely keeping his body and soul together. He told them he would rather starve than have his music in a commercial. At first I thought that was admirable - but now, I realize that it really makes very little difference. Like the rest of us, he has to make his living and he choses to do so by selling little bits of himself.

That's my opinion.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-24 10:29 am (UTC)
I don't mind struggling actors appearing in commercials. It's when people who are already rich and famous sell their celebrity to "The Man".

Yeah, I know, I'm an old hippie.

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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2007-10-24 12:23 pm (UTC)
YOu and I are pretty much the same age, and I agree with you. I really do. I don't mind when Garrison Keillor uses his voice to sell cars - because I get mailings from him about 'really good stuff' which turns out to be under the umbrella of Prairie Home productions. And I don't really mind when actors do voice overs for commercials - because after all, that's what they do, read lines for a living.

But the lingerie commercial with Dylan really amazed me. Why would he do that?

Because they payed him a HUGE amount of money. And after all these years, he's used to living comfortably.

So, yes. I really do agree with you. And will continue to be disappointed when things like this happen.

ON the other hand, I've seen some pretty cute commercials from people I never expected to see. After he lost the presidential election to Bill Clinton, Bob Dole did an American Express commercial -- the "do you know who I am" one. It was funny, and done with Bob Dole self deprication.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-24 07:05 pm (UTC)
Garrison Keillor has a lovely voice. He doesn't have that high a profile over here, but he does do a number of voice-overs. I couldn't tell you which products he endorses- I don't listen to what he says- I just sit back and bask in those warm carressing tones.
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From: algabal
2007-10-24 10:46 am (UTC)
It's always distubred me too when music legends do these ridiculous commercials. Don't they have enough money already?

Well, like Dylan said during his born-again Christian phase, "you gotta serve somebody..."
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-24 06:09 pm (UTC)
You'd think Dylan would be rolling in it, wouldn't you? I wonder what he's worth.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2007-10-24 11:18 am (UTC)
I don't have any problem with actors appearing in commercials, after all, that's what they do, they take on various roles and act them out. Adverts are often little dramas anyway. Likewise song writers sell performance rights to songs. If they're happy to have one of their compositions used for an advert, I don't see it as selling out.

I am, however, a little uneasy when people who are well known in their own right do adverts, for example politicians or news readers or documentary presenters. This is much more of an, "I'm trustworthy and I endorse this product," sort of thing and I don't really like that -- unless they genuinely do swear by product X or service Y.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2007-10-24 12:25 pm (UTC)
Ken Dryden (former goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs and now member of Parliament in Canada) wrote about such things in his autobiography. He didn't (at the time he wrote the book) appear in commercials for products he did not use and believe in.

Of course, now, as a politician, maybe things have changed. I hope not.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-24 06:14 pm (UTC)
I remember Richard Briers (I think it was him) saying that it's thanks to all his voiceovers that he can afford to work in the theatre.

I agree about the trust thing. I know David Attenborough has said he'll never do a commercial for just that reason.
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[User Picture]From: richenda
2007-10-24 12:12 pm (UTC)
>>>>Because now she's appearing in an ad for pasta. Anne the crusader becomes Anne the pasta salesperson. Doesn't she see how this wipes out everything she ever stood for, everything she ever did?

I haven't seen the advertisement, but is it so impossible that she really likes the pasta?
What really annoys me is voiceovers that sound like a well-known voice but aren't the person.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-24 06:16 pm (UTC)
I like pasta too, but I'd think twice about endorsing any particular brand.

If I were a celeb and someone was imitating my voice in ads I'd be extremely cross.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2007-10-24 12:13 pm (UTC)
It really doesn´t bother me to see actors and singers/musicians doing ads although some of them look uneasy all the while. It´s a job. And I usually don´t pay much attention to advertising anyway. I haven´t seen the car ad by Dylan.

It does bother me to see polticians, though. Somehow they don´t belong in the artsy category but are more about public trust (hopefully) and seeing them selling pasta and baby nappies...well...no, just no.

And maybe that´s a biased thought but there it is.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-24 06:21 pm (UTC)
It's a biased thought I thoroughly endorse.
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[User Picture]From: redatt
2007-10-24 12:39 pm (UTC)
I don't tend to see adverts so I don't tend to be bothered by this sort of thing, but I think in some cases it's about celebrity placement and keeping them visible as much as anything. Not just to the us, either, but to people who might want to employ them.

I think Stephen Fry started doing Twinings when he was on our small screens much, for example, though that might not have anything to do with anything, I admit. I'm talking from deep inside my hat.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-24 06:27 pm (UTC)
I hate adverts. I deconstruct them in my head. I shout at them.

Fry and Twinings are a pretty good match. It's not to hard to believe he may actually drink the stuff.
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[User Picture]From: redatt
2007-10-24 11:52 pm (UTC)
Heh, if I actually watched them I'd be exactly the same :~)
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From: sculptruth
2007-10-24 02:50 pm (UTC)
I don't mind celebrity and advertising but I would think (call me crazy) that a celebrity might want to consider their position, take advantage of their high profile nature, and choose their adverts and products wisely.

For example, the Cadillac Escalade--a beast of a vehicle that only the very upper middle class and above can drive in this country. What message is that? Who is his audience? I understand he's also plugging XM radio and the show he hosts on it, but perhaps there are other ways to promote it besides advertising an environmentally/economically hostile lifestyle.

Yikes, I went off. But I stand by it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-24 06:34 pm (UTC)
Dylan and Victoria's Secret was weird but not particularly offensive, but Dylan and a gas guzzler is beyond weird. It's not entirely clear what he stands for these days but I guess we all believed that whatever it is it wasn't that.
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[User Picture]From: mokie
2007-10-25 01:39 am (UTC)
Most TV commercials these days are like little mini-shows, almost entertainment in their own right, and those don't bother me so much. Celeb stands there, sells a product, and keeps their face in the public eye. I can respect a celeb who does this, because hey, they're doing what they always do--they're entertaining me.

It's the half-hour 'paid advertisement not sponsored by this network' spiels in which celebrities are paid to talk about how this product they probably never heard of before radically changed their life and is responsible for their success in the business--those are the ones that bug me. Celeb isn't selling the product, they're selling their reputation, and to me that's not just a job, that's whoring oneself out. It's hard to respect this sort of celeb.

There are always exceptions, though. I almost had a fit when I saw the Muppets being used to sell cars...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-25 09:06 am (UTC)
A really clever ad can be entertaining the first time you see it, but when it's been repeated four or five times you just want to scream when it comes round. Funny ones are the worst. I'm like, "how dare you tell me that lame old joke again?"

The only ones I tolerate are the ones with really elaborate special effects. And the ones where they throw lots and lots of weird images at you in rapid succession and you have to watch them several times to work out what exactly you've seen.
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From: fickleasever
2007-10-25 09:12 pm (UTC)
"I know Bob has previous. He did a lingerie ad."
What did he wear?
;)

I like a lot of Dylan's music, but don't much like him doing it. He's one of the few people whose music I like to hear cover versions of. (Bad grammar, sorry). The fact that he's doing ads doesn't bother me...

Anne Widdicombe I'm afraid I have no time for. I think she's a bully. If she wants to make pasta commercials, fine. I suppose it shows that she's vaguelly human.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-26 09:17 am (UTC)
Widdecombe is a person of limited imagination. I've never liked her.

But then I'd have difficulty identifying a mainstream politician I did like.

Tony Benn perhaps?
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From: fickleasever
2007-10-26 10:03 am (UTC)
The only politician I can think of who I really liked is, alas, now dead. That was Mo Mowlam.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-10-26 11:32 am (UTC)
Yes, Mo was OK.

(And I have a bit of a thing for Abraham Lincoln)
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