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February 17, 1994 - Image 16

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-02-17

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, February 17, 1994

JOHN HIATT

Little artistic merit in advertising*

ADS
Continued from page 1
you're seeing something else, even
though the fantasy is short-lived.) I'm
talking a disturbing trend that I first
noticed at the Ann Arbor 1&2: a bla-
tant, honest-to-God commercial run-
ning before the film began. Before a
captive audience, they showed the
most inane and ridiculous Coke ad (I
believe it was entitled "The Burning
of the Cane Fields") I'd ever seen.
This short (ahem) "commercial
film" mentioned how every year at
such and such a time they burn some
cane field to clear it. Then the music
kicked in, and the rest was simply
gorgeous men and women covered in
shimmering sweat (not greasy smelly
sweat like the rest of us have, but
gleaming glistening sweat like the
kind production assistants spray onto
people who've never before sweated
in real life) pulling dripping, ice-cold
cans of Coke out of refrigerators and
pressing them to various parts of their
anatomies in order to cool off from
the glaring heat produced by the afore-
mentioned burning of said cane fields.
Wow, all this and a movie, too.
Not all movie theaters give in to
this ridiculous trend of advertising
before the film, and thankfully they
don't have to. The actual motion pic-
tures have got pseudo-commercials
in them, too. Product placement in
days of yore was seldom-seen, but
now entire films are sponsored and
the advertising for film and product
seems to blend together into a quag-
mire of confusing brain stimuli.
Take last summer's hit movie

"Coneheads" (please) for example.
The Subway chain of popular fast-
food restaurants (conveniently located
inside the Michigan Union for your
dining pleasure. Try a steak and cheese
sub today!) was a main sponsor of the
movie, and the film itself included an
entire scene set inside a Subway res-
taurant. The Conehead characters also
It would appear that
the days of seeing
characters drinking
'BEER' or 'SODA' and
eating 'POTATO CHIPS'
in a film are gone.
participated in some television com-
mercials, and last but not least, the
media blitz included a music video
from the film's soundtrack which fea-
tured a Conehead (not one of the
Coneheads, but a Conehead nonethe-
less) cavorting while The Red Hot
Chili Peppers lip-synched their song.
Even more than Coke or Pepsi,
Subway has been nabbing film audi-
ences: anyone remember that Sub-
way cup blowing around on the ground
right before Arnold appears in "Ter-
minator 2: Judgment Day?" What
about the little kid drinking out of a
Subway cup while the evil T-1000
questions her about John Connor's
whereabouts in the same film?
Mmmm ...just thinkingaboutitmakes
me crave a Krab sub.
It would appear that the days of
seeing characters drinking 'BEER' or
'SODA' and eating 'POTATO
CHIPS' in a film are gone. Even os-

tensibly message-oriented films like
Oliver Stone's "JFK" contain such
plugs. How choked up can they ex-
pectme to get about Bobby Kennedy's
death when two seconds before Kevin
Costner was making a sandwich with
Wonder Bread and Helman's and
French's mustard?
There is no safe haven. Advertis-
ing and commercialism are every-
where, and they want you to laud
them as art. They want you to hang
Budweiser posters on your wall and
stare at the pretty girls. They want
you to buy Michael Jordan's shoes
(and Ijust have to say something here
about those Bobby Hurley shoes. Who
the hell is gonna buy shoes just 'cause
Bobby Hurley likes them? But I di-@
gress). They want you to conform, to
band together with your fellow con-
sumers and make their product a
household name.
And for the most part, it works,
although I can't name anyone who
switched from Pepsi to Coke just be-
cause that cane fields film was so
damn cool. And I don't know any guy
who's gonna use Brut aftershave just
because the woman in the commer-
cial lauds the fact that 'men are back'
(presumably they're back from Calvin
Klein's Obsession-land, where all the
men are too busy suffering from exis-
tential angst to look at the waif-like
women).
There is no escape from commer-
cialism, especially not in such a con-
sumer-oriented culture. Remember
this: they want you to buy into it, too
'plug in' and to label their product art.
But when all's said and done, you're
not quite that stupid. You recognize a
commercial when you see it, even if
it's buried underneath the subtext of a
Steven Seagal movie (not that Seagal
movies have subtexts, but you know
what I'm getting at here). And you
don't have to drink Coke or Pepsi, or
eat at Subway, or worship at thee
Michael Jordan altar, or sing the
praises of Charlie perfume and Cindy
Crawford's mole. You can drink
Meijer pop and eat Meijer brand po-
tato chips. At least until they get their
own commercial.
This text was not a paid advertise-
ment for Subway Subs.

Although you may not know John Hiatt's name or music, you almost certainly have heard one of his songs. Everyone
from Bonnie Raitt ("Thing Called Love") to Iggy Pop ("Home" and "Something Wild") through Bob Dylan, Conway
Twitty and Aaron Neville have covered Hiatt's songs. (For a fairly complete overview of Hiatt covers, pick up Rhino's
"Love Gets Strange: The Songs of John Hiatt," which features nearly 20 songs by different artists.) Unfortunately,
his own records haven't crossed over to the general public, which is a shame because his last four albums rival any
other artist. Starting with 1987's "Bring the Family" (easily one of the best albums of the decade), Hiatt has turned
out a series of albums that not only have some of the best songs of the past decade, but also rock furiously. His
latest, "Perfectly Good Guitar," is more raucous and noisy than anything he's recorded recently without sacrificing
any of his quality songwriting. Hiatt's performance at the Michigan Theater tonight promises to be an electrifying
show from one the best rock 'n' rollers around. Doors open at 8 p.m.; tickets are $17.50 and $22.50 in advance,
and they are worth the expense. Call 668-8397 for more information.

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