So I was just watching the Daily Show (actually a repeat of February 8th’s Daily Show, but I digress) and Jon Stewart was talking about some of the criticisms about some of the Super Bowl Commercials. The main two that he discussed were the Snickers’ “Mechanic” spot and the GM “Robot” spot.
In the Snickers’ Mechanic spot, two guys are working on a car and start eating both ends of a Snickers in a decidedly Lady and the Tramp movie, ending in a kiss. Appalled by the kiss, they have to ‘do something manly’ to make up for it, ripping out their chest hair. This spot obviously upset many gay and lesbian rights organizations who said it showcased homophobic behaviour.
Stewart’s commentary on the spot mentioned that apparently homophobic acts could somehow still be considered humorous in our current ‘enlightened’ culture. He also has a cheeky dig that ripping out chest hair seems to be a bit metrosexual at best.
The other spot that caused some trouble was the GM Robot spot, where one of those automobile robots has a nightmare about dropping a screw, leading to his layoff, causing him to attempt other jobs (and fail) and ultimately take his own life and jump off a bridge. This caused some outcries from suicide prevention organizations who say that showing such actions aren’t ethically decent.
Stewart’s comments were that people should be more concerned about the real autoworkers GM has laid off recently, before showing a parody second version that showed the robot shooting himself in his head/primary gripping device.
These are all well and fine (the actual video of Stewart’s commentary can be found here). They’re even funny in a cheeky, second look at the issue kind of way.
But they might not be original. In this Slate.com article on the Super Bowl Ads, author Seth Stevenson provided a second look at the Super Bowl ads. He had this to say about the two spots in question:
Two auto mechanics have a Lady and the Tramp moment, their lips meeting at the midpoint of a Snickers bar. “I think we just accidentally kissed,” says one guy. “Quick, do something manly,” says the other. Each rips out a tuft of his own chest hair and holds it aloft. Thoughts: 1) Ripping out chest hair is manly? I thought chest-hair removal was a firmly metrosexual move. 2) Once again, disgusting hair imagery appears in a food/beverage ad. Not appetizing! 3) Apparently, knee-jerk homophobia is still grounds for comedy.
A robot in a GM assembly plant drops a screw. As a result, he’s fired. He tries to make do with menial jobs, but he remains miserable. In the end, he jumps off a bridge. Thoughts: Haven’t a lot of actual human auto workers been laid off lately? Are they meant to laugh when, at the end of the ad, the robot wakes up to realize this was just a bad dream, and that he still has his job so he doesn’t need to commit suicide after all? Whew, thank goodness things worked out for you, robot!
The Slate.com article was published on February 5th. The Daily Show commentary was done on February 8th. Sure they aren’t exactly alike, but the same thinking appears in both. It definitely makes you wonder. There’s something that I’ve heard about called parallel thinking where when faced with the same situation, two people can independently come to similar conclusions. It’s just how the natural train of thought happens. But is seems like a HUGE coincidence that a situation like that would occur with two separate ads, coming with similar jokes that just so happen to both be in an article published three days earlier.
I’ve been following the Joe Rogan Vs. Carlos Mencia/Ned Holness situation a bit (basically Rogan got into a war of words with Mencia about the latter stealing jokes, you can see Rogan’s take on it here, with the aftermath listed here and here). This might not be as catastrophic as that for a writer like Slate’s Seth Stevenson, but it is an indication of a bit of lazy work from one of the writers, if not something more.