Archive for the ‘anthropomorphic’ category

“A Pet Too Far” Progressive Commercial…

June 19, 2021

Where animals are concerned, there’s cute, and there’s painfully cute. So when a commercial being filmed for Progressive Insurance starts with a basket of kittens and proceeds to a bulldog in a top hat 🎩 and then dogs and cats in band uniforms, it’s Progressive’s own Flo who decrees that they’ve gone over the top with a cuteness overload.

Progressive loves animals as much as you do, we’re told, and so protects them for up to $1,000 in the event of an auto accident.

But apparently according to Flo, putting animals into tiny band uniforms to sell car insurance is too much. “What’s wrong with cute animals?,” a team member protests. “Define ‘too much,’ ” says another.

Who’s going to tell Mitten?,” protests Jamie in full band uniform. “She’s a diva!” Mitten is an adorable kitten in a band uniform, a tiny trombone around her neck. She meows pitifully…

Well, I wouldn’t want to have to tell Mitten that her big commercial moment is cancelled…would you?!

Liberty Mutual’s “Gym” Commercial…

June 13, 2021

We once again find the LiMu Emu and Doug on a row of treadmills at a gym, where the human half of the duo asks an unfortunate fellow exerciser on a cell phone if he’s using the Liberty Mutual “customizer” tool, so he “only pays for what he needs.” Doug hardly seems dressed for a workout, wearing long pants, his trademark yellow shirt, and a tie. Bad form, Doug…

Putting Doug to shame, however, is the Emu at the end of the row of treadmills, who is running full tilt! “LiMu, you’re a real animal!,” remarks Doug, adding “Who’s got the ‘bird legs’ now?” Cute…

In an expanded version of the ad, the Emu is also shown pecking at a heavy bag in the gym. His beak punctures the bag’s covering, causing sand to pour out.- -Well, there goes their membership! This is one buff bird…

“Grilling Out” with the LiMu Emu…

June 11, 2021

I’m not sure that one would want to date or marry an insurance company spokesman or rep as depicted on TV, where they never seem to be able to talk about anything but insurance, which can get old really fast! So it is at an outdoor cookout for Liberty Mutual’s “Doug” (David Hoffman), the Emu, and their presumed wives. The partners are dressed alike in matching loud yellow floral Hawaiian print shirts, and even their wives are in matching tones. It’s a surreal occasion, their outfits matching the yellow finish of the Liberty Mutual-mobile visible in the background. They’re nothing but thematic here…

When Doug blathers only about insurance, his wife politely asks him to change the topic, it being the weekend and all.- -Give it a rest, dude! In the awkward silence that follows, Doug asks the Emus wife if she would prefer to eat either a hot dog or chicken right off the grill, the latter offering seeming to be at least quasi-cannibalistic for the bird. The Emu vocalizes a brief response which Doug interprets to indicate a choice for a hot dog. It is not clear whether this is possibly because chickens may resemble baby emus in their sight…

For inquiring minds, the Emu memorably depicted in these commercials is a mix of real bird and CGI effects. At any rate, he certainly can rock a pair of aviator shades! Perhaps a future commercial could touch on a sensitive issue, such as The Great Australian Emu War of 1932, where 20,000 emus prevailed against World War I veterans armed with machine guns. They are a resourceful and resilient species… 🦊

Vintage Furry Advertising…

May 31, 2021

In the past as now, there were furry icons who represented a brand, and memorably served as spokesmen. Back before Esso gas became Exxon, there was the tiger used to admonish motorists to “put a tiger in their tank,” the tiger representing power and performance. A promotion was even done where stuffed tiger tails that could be affixed to gas caps were available to customers as visible proof that they indeed were driving with such a tiger. This was back in the days when fuel attendants would routinely clean your windshield and check your oil without being asked! Don’t hold your breath waiting for such amenities today. The tiger himself was an impressive dude rendered with attitude and fine attention to detail; rather awesome, actually.

The sadly nameless Esso/Exxon tiger was predated by the Kellogg’s product icon of Tony the Tiger, and there were distinct similarities in depictions of the duo. Despite this, the two tigers co-existed amicably until 1992 when trademark infringe wars erupted as Exxon tried to open Tiger Marts. It’s Tony the Tiger who seems to have best survived the Tiger Wars, and may still readily be seen today…

Geico’s “Bear Country” Commercial…

May 18, 2021

  
Geico Insurance has already featured Rocky and Bullwinkle and Casper the Friendly Ghost in commercials, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they’re punching the nostalgia ticket another time with a crossover commercial featuring Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo.

We’re introduced to some couples enjoying a barbecue while rejoicing that they’ve finally found their dream home in the mountains when the occasion is crashed by the two Hanna-Barbera ursines, first introduced in 1958.  It is bear country, apparently, and while the humans beat a hasty retreat, Yogi and his diminutive partner help themselves to the goodies, all without Ranger Smith in sight.  I’m kind of disappointed in Boo-Boo, who in the vintage ‘toons would kind of serve as the voice of reason to Yogi, or at least try to rein him in a bit, usually unsuccessfully. Here Boo-Boo is an all-too-willing participant, helping himself to the chicken and other edibles, which include corn on the cob and even steak.

Living in bear country may not be easy, but from their safe sanctuary within their house the people are relieved that Geico at least makes bundling their homeowners insurance easy and saves them money…and when Yogi and Boo-Boo have departed, one of the humans, Jack, can be coaxed down from his perch in a tree. We also get to hear Yogi’s trademark boast that he’s “Smarter than the average bear” when he suggests leaving the scene with a cobbler to go.

But hey, this isn’t Jellystone Park, and a barbecue at a house doesn’t constitute a pic-a-nic basket raid!  Call Animal Control, someone…Yogi’s apparently becoming an invasive species, and may become the recipient of a tranquilizer dart or worse if he keeps this up…and why do bears need ties, anyways?!  I don’t even like ’em…   🐻

  

The Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Pinocchio Commercial…

April 27, 2021



It’s been called “nightmare fuel,” extremely disturbing, and creepy; the Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Pinnochio Commercial, that is!  There is something not quite right about the skin tones, enormous eyes, and jointed arms of our CGI Pinocchio depicted; this is truly something terribly apart from nature.  He may “dance without strings,” but we only want to dance away from him, and quickly. – – Geppetto, how could you do this to us?!   Yes, there’s a bug in this commercial, and for me, he’s the highlight…

Now our marionette-boy is so bowled over by the taste of Coke Zero Sugar that his creator and cricket companion Jiminey don’t seem to believe his raves over the drink, telling Pinnochio that if he keeps lying, he’ll never be a real boy. They seem persuaded, however, upon trying the product.  “I never lie,” maintains Pinnochio. This, of course, is a lie, and causes the would-be boy’s nose to grow to tree-limb length across the room.  We really didn’t need to see this, and the Geico commercials of a few years back handled Pinnochio in a more clever fashion.

Geppetto looks younger and more vigorous than his Disney counterpart in this commercial airing, and I like the treatment of Jiminey Cricket as a fully-fledged anthropomorphic insect, minus the Disney hat, umbrella, and moralizing but complete with the proper number of six rather than Disney’s four limbs. – – This bug could go places if he doesn’t break into singing When You Wish Upon A Star.  So lose the “boy,” but the bug’s a keeper…

 


Nasty Vegetation…

April 11, 2021

  
It’s one thing to be made as a child to eat your vegetables.  It’s entirely different when vegetation appears to want to eat you!

Plant or plant-like monsters are relatively rare in science fiction, with notable exceptions such as The Thing, The Triffids, and Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. Some plant-creatures can even be heroic and self-sacrificing, such as Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy.  

Not so are the allergen creatures featured in recent Flonase commercials. One gargantuan thing emerges directly from the Earth in a park, causing pandemonium among the park-goers. It’s a lawn monster, not to be confused with a lawn mower, and the thing roars and spews pollen, dander, and other debris, equipped with a fearsome set of teeth. The featured guy is not perturbed, however, calmly continuing to eat his ice cream. Such spectacles are just part of the passing parade for him, ’cause he’s had his Flonase…

In another commercial, a flower-monster is terrorizing a city, spewing massive amounts of pollen and roaring while city dwellers take to their heels. I must confess that I’ve always wanted to be an extra in scenes such as this, totally losing it and running terrified away from Godzilla or something similar while screaming!  Here again, a lady is totally nonplussed, calmly reading a book while the floral monster makes mayhem. She even sticks a flower in her hair…take that, allergies!

Allergies don’t have to be scary, you see, if you use Flonase…and just to be safe, eat your veggies and spray your weeds before they eat you! 🦊

In Praise of Dark Bunnies…

April 3, 2021

  
With Easter upon us, it’s easy to think of rabbits as all sweetness and light, cuteness incarnate, the Easter Bunny thing.  I prefer my rabbits to have a dark side, however, with a bit of muscularity and the potential for the unpredictable thrown in.  That’s right…I like my bunnies bad!  

Bad bunnies can play havoc with our expectations of them, like The Rabbit as portrayed by Joey Fatone on Season 1 of The Masked Singer.  He had a wonderful, “fresh from the asylum” vibe to him, and I’ll never hear Livin’ La Vida Loca the same way again after seeing Rabbit’s electrifying stage performance of it.  

  

If you search, you can find rabbits who don’t fit the passive, submissive mold, like Hugh Jackman’s Aussie E. Aster Bunnymund in the Rise of the Guardians movie.  That was an Easter Bunny who was great with children, but could also kick some serious…ahem, tail.

  

The 2001 science fiction/psychological thriller film Donnie Darko featured a disturbing, nightmarish rabbit, Frank, who could certainly haunt your dreams…

  

So with many more examples possible from medieval manuscripts (below) onwards, just remember that rabbits are not all the timid, wimpy, sanitized creatures that we see paraded around at this season, but rather a strong, adaptable, successful, and resilient species…and a Happy Easter, y’all…or else!    

  
   

“The Proof Is Out There” On The History Channel…

March 19, 2021

If you’re like me, you have an approach/avoidance conflict regarding shows on the paranormal and the unexplained.  On the one hand, you love them and feel drawn to them, but on the other, such shows can vary greatly in quality, and leave you feeling unsatisfied.  There goes another hour of my life that I’ll never have back, you may feel afterwards.  Some such shows are so poorly produced and documented as to represent intellectual dishonesty, and be basically hack entertainment.  We are, however, living in a time when fringe conspiracy theories are surprisingly in vogue, so perhaps art is imitating life once again.

“I Want To Believe,” declared a poster on the walls of Fox Mulder of The X-Files series, and this sentiment captured the yearning that many of us feel, but as intelligent skeptics we want to be convinced by proof, hopefully that which can stand up to scientific scrutiny.  Each classic X-Files episode included the legend, The Truth Is Out There.  Playing on this, a new series on The History Channel is titled, The Proof Is Out There.  Hosted by Emmy Award winning Tony Harris, the series is captivating and fast-paced, and it covers several unrelated features, all in the time of half an hour.  The oddball phenomena covered tend to be labeled as credible, not credible, or unexplained.

An episode sampled (S1, Ep5) included segments on the Skunk Ape, whispering sounds heard in a tomb investigation in Egypt, unexplained apparent structures and lines on the lunar surface, and a light phenomena in Texas.  The Skunk Ape segment examined a paw print found on a car window as well as a video supposedly of the creature.  Neither was found to be credible, but the series added that such doesn’t rule out the existence of the creature, but only that the evidence examined did not factually represent its existence.   The “tomb whispers” from Egypt were examined by both a soundscape ecologist and an Egyptologist, but were ruled to be unexplained.  Supposed dome-shaped structures on the moon were found to be consistent with the formation of impact craters, whereas lunar tracks were thought to be from an earlier Soviet rover.  Lastly, blue light found crossing a woman’s kitchen was regarded as unexplained.

With episodes running half an hour, there’s not a lot of inflation, wasted time, or “puffing” of content on the show, which can be so notable on similar features.  There’s economy here rather than padding. There is no unity or theme between the individual segments of it, which can be seen as a strength or weakness.  Overall, the series shows good production values, is intelligently done, thought-provoking if not earthshaking, and generally worthy of your time.  I rather think that Fox Mulder would have approved of this series… 

Nature’s Own “Goldilocks” Commercial…

March 16, 2021

 

When you come right down to it, Goldilocks was at best an unwanted guest or moocher, and at worst a parasite or even home invader.  I mean, going uninvited into the house of inoffensive bears, and eating their food, even sleeping in their beds?!  Humans carry diseases and stuff…who could blame the three bears if they were to invoke the Castle Doctrine, and clean Goldie’s clock but good?

In a spin on the Goldilocks and the Three Bears tale, our Nature’s Own commercial shows us a pristine forest through which strolls to fairy-tale themed music an angelic-looking, golden-haired girl. She approaches and then enters a charming cabin in which there’s a rustic table holding three sandwiches.  Goldie samples them in turn, pronouncing each one “just right!”  But wait…Momma Bear enters the house, sees Goldilocks, and is not pleased!  We are then shown Papa and Baby Bear, who are fixing sandwiches for Goldie, and are shocked at being discovered by Momma.  

“You know, if you keep feeding her, she’s NEVER going to leave!,” intones Momma with displeasure.  You see, Papa and Baby Bear have apparently been keeping and feeding Goldilocks as kind of a pet, like a stray cat, perhaps. Soon they’ll be saddled with her care and feeding permanently, until she turns 18 or perhaps 21. Goldilocks appears satisfied with this arrangement, and there’s none of the “too hot/too cold” fussiness by this Goldie over her food; just keep the grub on good bread coming, bears…

So enjoy some Nature’s Own bread, but don’t feed it to stray humans.  Once you feed them, they’re yours, and you’ll never get rid of ’em!  Let us learn from the Bear’s mistake, or we’ll suffer a long-term liability and burden.  It’s hard enough feeding our own, right, and if you kick the young humans out, they’ll learn to fend for themselves. Feeding a human is fostering dependency, and that’s really not kindness to them…or so, conservatives would have us think…  🐺