Commercials lie, and this is not in serious dispute by anyone with a functioning neocor-tex. That new spray cleaner will not transform your house into an architectural magazine spread. Beer does not make busty women magically appear. Anything with half the calories tastes like molten carpet underlay.
But the worst offender, I've decided, are car commercials.
A few car commercials fall on the moderately truthy side of the ledger. If the commercial shows you how to fold down the rear seats, or how durable the door panels are, or how the airbags work, the commercial is selling you on something real. It's also almost certainly selling you a mid-sized sedan or minivan, a low-priced, unpretentious people-mover.
But these are not most car commercials. Cast your mind back to your last trip in a car. Did you pour yourself into a leather bucket seat, smooth back your (full, not greying) head of hair, thrill to the roar of the engine, and pull out of the driveway of your gleaming white mansion overlooking the Pacific? Did you then whip onto a completely deserted stretch of brand-new blacktop and test your car's handling by screaming through a series of thrilling curves, while eagles soared majestically overhead? No?
Congratulations, you are a real person, and not a car commercial accessory.
The luxury/sports car version of the car commercial fantasy is probably the most common, in use for decades.
There are a couple of interesting variations that have come into play more recently.
The pickup truck commercial has been following its own narrative road. There's a reason Dodge gets Sam "Sounds Like a Cowboy" Elliott to narrate their commercials. It's the same reason he also does voice-overs for Coors and the American Beef Council.
Truck commercials are all about hauling massive lumps of stuff through rugged landscapes. Look at that Dodge/Ford/Chevy dragging an entire California redwood out of the Grand Canyon! Even the herd of wild horses running past in the background looks impressed! The bigger your truck, the bigger your. um, you're really manly!
Then there's the small city car commercial. These are unabashedly aimed at twenty-somethings, usually pitching brightly-coloured hatchbacks. Possession of one of these bonbons of a vehicle makes poppy upbeat music begin playing, and all your friends suddenly appear and pile into the car and everyone will drive to a lake and jump in and then back to the city and it's night now and everyone's wearing cool sunglasses and everyone's smiling and laughing all the time. and I really think being 22 looks much more tiring and frantic than I remember it being!
I never understand the part of car reviews where the writer feels obliged to tell you whether it's "fun to drive" or not.
For most people, 99 per cent of driving is commuting, dropping kids off various places, getting groceries, and cursing the price of gas. Your average drive involves very few parties, chances to test the manufacturer's claims about zero-to-sixty times, or opportunities to herd cattle on the open range.
And unless you drive for a living, your car spends about 20 to 23.5 hours a day just sitting, passively depreciating in value.
I'd like to propose a Realism Guide for car commercials. In the future, no matter what the car, you must show an ordinary person attempting to park at a busy mall, being stuck behind a bus picking up passengers, and trying to find a radio station that's not playing an annoying song.
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