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May 2, 2010 10:03 PM   Subscribe

There's got to be a better way! A digest of why your life is so hard, as demonstrated in low-budget television advertisements. SLYT
posted by Mayor Curley (42 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Best. Of. Everything.
posted by hermitosis at 10:12 PM on May 2, 2010


This type of exquisite, concatenated pop culture always brings a smile to my face. For those interested in more, check out Andy Baio's oft-updated list of 'supercuts'.
posted by cgomez at 10:16 PM on May 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


I must lead a charmed life because none of those things have happened to me.
posted by gomichild at 10:26 PM on May 2, 2010


In a way, these commercials are the best that corporate culture has ever offered our society. They are more rational than mainstream commercials; they attempt to point out as directly and clearly as possible that people like us have a problem which the product being sold can solve. This makes a good deal more sense than telling me I should drink a particular cola because of polar bears and Santa Claus. In fact, if people were actually rational, these sorts of commercials would be the most effective, because they actually tell us why we should buy a product. But people aren't rational; that's why this sort of thing seems silly to us, and the deeply irrational commercials which manipulate us into feeling something somehow seem more graceful. We appreciate that someone out there thought enough of us that they put effort into trying to manipulate us. Whereas we don't like a commercial that plainly just tells us what the product is, how it works, and what problem it can solve – because such a commercial respects us, expects us to be reasonable, and seems founded on the naive notion that people will make the right decision if you give them all the facts. It's unsettling to us that anyone could respect us enough to think that; we'd rather enjoy commercials apparently written by people who are just as cynical as us, and who belittle and befuddle us for profit. It's interesting to me that this sort of dynamic, in which a person is attracted to those who disrespect her or him, is typically symptomatic of clinical narcissism.
posted by koeselitz at 10:27 PM on May 2, 2010 [35 favorites]


No, I'm pretty sure we don't buy it because we're rational and we realize their products are complete, utter bullshit.

i've wanted to make this video for years
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:29 PM on May 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


A+ for the Mr. Show hat tip, sir.

(The FPP video is pretty neat, but the Hitchcock cameo montage in cgomez's link made me smile so much it hurt. So awesome.)
posted by mintcake! at 10:30 PM on May 2, 2010


The never-terrible Everything Is Terrible did something like this a while back. Required watching if you liked this FPP.

Infomercial Hell
posted by Mikey-San at 10:34 PM on May 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


Best. Of. Everything. Ever.
Had a tiny clip of it... but still... "could use more creepy Tiddy..."
Great, thanks, I don't know where they got the footage, but now we have a document of my life's failures. Honestly, I always think of how faked those look in isolation... but all together like that... I can almost "see" the situations that created the epiphany and impetus for the product 'visionary' who designed those products.

The Louis Theroux weird weekend with Infomercials was excellent.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:41 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


They are more rational than mainstream commercials; they attempt to point out as directly and clearly as possible that people like us have a problem which the product being sold can solve.

I completely agree, except that there's a conceit that these commercials are overlooking-- we, as modern consumers, don't really have any problems that another product can address. Most of us are capable of answering the phone while using a blanket or cutting a length of plastic wrap without bursting into tears. I cut a pan of brownies last weekend with a normal kitchen knife and it went okay.

The deceit in these ads is more transparent, and on that level they are more rational. "Here's a problem that doesn't exist" is somehow more honest than "here's a 30-second subtle exploration of your emotions and potential insecurities framed as people enjoying breakfast cereal."
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:42 PM on May 2, 2010 [16 favorites]


It's interesting to me that this sort of dynamic, in which a person is attracted to those who disrespect her or him, is typically symptomatic of clinical narcissism.

Except it's not; the clinical definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder does not include anything like the kind of masochistic and low self-esteem behaviors you're describing: those behavior patterns are more indicative of Dependent Personality Disorder, which is entirely different.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:45 PM on May 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Most of us are capable of answering the phone while using a blanket or cutting a length of plastic wrap without bursting into tears.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:45 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


...mostly.
posted by infinite intimation at 11:00 PM on May 2, 2010


AGh! when i pull it down over my feet, my arms stick out...and when i pull it up over my arms my feet stick out! goddamn this thing!
posted by sexyrobot at 11:08 PM on May 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Awesome. These moments have been a big inside joke in my house for years. My wife and I always fumble with and make exasperated faces at normal household objects.

About these direct-response products, some of them are certainly bullshit, but not all of them. PitchMen gave me a new respect for the industry. In one episode, Billy Mays found a bad review of one of his products and actually called the reviewer on the phone to discuss his experiences with the product.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:11 PM on May 2, 2010


It was funny, but I was hoping it would end with those troubled people finding just the right products to bring them peace and happiness. As it is now they'll be forever cursed, always searching for a solution, never finding it.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:37 PM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've been looking for a way to turn this into a FPP for a while: may I present the ultimate Infomercial-style commercial pitchman!
posted by JHarris at 12:22 AM on May 3, 2010


My favorite.

I'm 6. It certainly has its advantages, and it's disadvantages.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:38 AM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


They are more rational than mainstream commercials; they attempt to point out as directly and clearly as possible that people like us have a problem which the product being sold can solve.

Troy McClure: Tonight I'm going to you about the Juice Loosener.

[Troy grabs an orange and squeezes it against his eye until it bursts. All the juice pours into a glass beneath his face]

Troy McClure: Until now, this was the only way to get juice from an orange.

[cuts to Homer, using the exact same method to get orange juice]

Homer: You mean there's a better way?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:03 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I must have blinked during the clip of the woman blowing her bangs from her flour-coated face.
posted by sourwookie at 2:05 AM on May 3, 2010


mccarty.tim:
My favorite part about that is how it's the first improvement to toilet paper as we know it. Who knows what methods and modes of fecal matter removal are used amongst the cosmic winds between the galaxies??
posted by JHarris at 2:33 AM on May 3, 2010 [9 favorites]


The first improvement in toilet paper as we know it since the 1880s

You know it was actually my great-great-great grandfather who, in 1886, suggested using toilet paper to wipe directly in preference to the technique of the time: wiping with one's hands and using toilet paper to clean off the ensuing mess.
posted by teem at 5:11 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


But people aren't rational; that's why this sort of thing seems silly to us...

I agree with part of your point, but this part is just wrong. These ads aren't silly because they are overly-rationally presenting a problem and then a solution to same. They are silly because the problems they present are completely fictional. I didn't see my perennial example in there, so I'll mention it here: The "problem" the woman had was trying to make pizza in her toaster. It showed her literally trying to cram an entire 18" pizza into a regulation size toaster and confused that it wouldn't fit.

Several other excerpts from the commercial are similarly stupid. Did I really see a young man on a date tell the young woman she was showing too much cleavage?
posted by DU at 5:15 AM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nice try there, but nobody's going to believe that anybody actually wipes directly with paper.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:15 AM on May 3, 2010


i've wanted to make this video for years

Me too!

These moments have been a big inside joke in my house for years. My wife and I always fumble with and make exasperated faces at normal household objects.

ME TOO!

There's nothing on TV that's quite as funny as watching some poor actor LOSE THEIR SHIT because they can't figure out how to use a fork.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:19 AM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always wondered if there was a special casting agency for these type of actors. Incompetents R Us, or something. I know they are just acting, because people who really have this much difficulty performing everyday tasks would never have been able to get to the place where the commercial was being made.
posted by FishBike at 5:47 AM on May 3, 2010


Amazing Discoveries was how these things appeared on Dutch television in the late 90s. The dubbing is so bad that it's just hilarious.

Mike and his amazing discoveries is something of a cult classic in Dutch TV history.
posted by Harry at 6:22 AM on May 3, 2010


They are silly because the problems they present are completely fictional.

Yes, that's it. They all seem so flustered by extremely ordinary things. Like people smashing holes in their walls with poorly aimed hammers and stepping in filled paint trays: Jesus, why would you do that? You only have to be a little bit careful to avoid that! Or the person wildly swinging a knife at some onions: Christ, just rock it back and forth like everyone else; you'll be fine. Only the people in these ads could possibly benefit from the products advertised.
posted by echo target at 7:02 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now I'm curious as to what products supposedly solve all these issues. I recognize the Slanket, and maybe one or two others, but most of them mystify me.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:14 AM on May 3, 2010


Very nice, but I'm disappointed that there were no pasta pots with colander lids. There are a lot of insulting moments in these commercials, but no matter how bad it gets, I always feel like the original -- the implication that the average person cannot safely drain a pot of pasta -- is the best (or worst, depending on how you look at it).

(Eggs cracking onto the stove top instead of the pan is a close second, though)
posted by tocts at 7:18 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always wondered if there was a special casting agency for these type of actors.
Have you seen Hamlet 2, because they have that actor.
posted by plinth at 8:09 AM on May 3, 2010


"could use more creepy Tiddy..."

Keep yer goddamn hands off my wife.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:46 AM on May 3, 2010


We appreciate that someone out there thought enough of us that they put effort into trying to manipulate us. Whereas we don't like a commercial that plainly just tells us what the product is, how it works, and what problem it can solve – because such a commercial respects us, expects us to be reasonable, and seems founded on the naive notion that people will make the right decision if you give them all the facts.

You've more or less described why I didn't lose my virginity until I was 19.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:12 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


You've more or less described why I didn't lose my virginity until I was 19.

You were holding out for Billy Mays?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:19 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


He said if I called in the next ten minutes he'd throw in a reacharound and a ride home.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:21 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also to prove I have nothing better to do today, here are the products featured in the video

Awesome Auger
Big City Slider
Big Top Cupcake
Bottle Tops
Bumpits
Buxton Palm Wallet
Cami Secret
Covermate
Crazy Critters
CrazyBraid
DepilSilk
Doggy Step
Egg Genie
Emery Cat
EZ Cracker
Grip N Twist, Dual Pro Peeler and Adjust-A-Slice
Handy Groomer
ISPEX
JML Exakt Saw
JML Keep Fresh Bags
JML Paint Sprayer Pro
JML Table Mate Dub
JumpSnap the Ropeless Jump Rope
Magic Tap
mighty mend it
Naptastic
Pedi Pistol - Home Pedicure Systems by Ped Egg
PediPaws
Perfect Brownie
Perfect Fit Button
Perfect Patty
Perfect Shelf
Pet Cozy
Robostir
Shoe Dini
Shoes Under
Smart Spin
Snuggie
Spill Daddy Paint Pro
SteamBuddy
Tushee
Tiddy Bear
Tool Band-it
TurboSlice
Twin Draft Guard
Twist n Style
UGLU
UGO Bags
Urine Gone
Vidalia Slice Wizard
Zipits
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:35 AM on May 3, 2010 [14 favorites]


Who knows what methods and modes of fecal matter removal are used amongst the cosmic winds between the galaxies??

You mean like bidets?
posted by kenko at 10:35 AM on May 3, 2010


People watch these, think to themselves "I'm glad I'm not that stupid", and then ORDER NOW because it comes with a free Cap Snaffler - "Snaffles caps off any size jug, bottle, or jar… and it really, really works."
posted by tommasz at 12:19 PM on May 3, 2010


Suggest to me Mitchell and Webb's finest sketch
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 12:39 PM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Did I really see a young man on a date tell the young woman she was showing too much cleavage?

Yeah, I was wondering which product went with that clip myself...
posted by danb at 6:34 PM on May 3, 2010


Oh good morning, that would be the Cami Secret.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:20 AM on May 4, 2010


Oh good morning, that would be the Cami Secret.

It's a lacy dickie?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:26 AM on May 4, 2010


Wow, Cami Secret really tries to fight you leaving the site without buying anything. But as a male, I fear I have little use for such a thing. Unless I was going out and wanted my date to show less cleavage.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:50 AM on May 6, 2010


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