Making The Utah Jazz Slightly Less Of A Misnomer
September 13, 2010 10:44 PM   Subscribe

Not the commercials you'd expect for the 2010 Utah State Fair. Check out those hamhocks and don't for get to grab a corndog while you're there. The TV commercials have since been yanked by the fair's board. The director of the ads, Jared Hess of Napolean Dynamite fame, claims racism.
posted by maryr (47 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Racist? Who knows. However, anyone who says "incentivize" is automatically in the wrong, so I side with Hess.
posted by klangklangston at 10:48 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, Utah. Bless its heart.
posted by The World Famous at 10:50 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


It will be a long and sometimes painful road, but if we stay strong, and maintain a consistent attitude of contrived outrage, eventually we will together achieve a world devoid of humor.
posted by nanojath at 10:51 PM on September 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


And, much like the rest of Hess's work, not terribly funny.
posted by graventy at 10:55 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I could easily imagine that the board just thinks the commercials are too racy and sultry, but that they would find it less sexual if the guy wasn't black -- that their perceptions of the ads are unconsciously influenced by racial stereotypes and anxieties. A white guy doing everything exactly like that guy did would probably strike them as amusing and asexual.
posted by creasy boy at 11:01 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Interesting that Utah should produce such offbeat talents. I suppose growing up in such a whitebread world forces it onto some people.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:03 PM on September 13, 2010


And, much like the rest of Hess's work, not terribly funny.
posted by graventy at 10:55 PM on September 13 [+] [!]

But still, the funniest thing he's ever done. In as much as it actually managed to make me smile - a little bit. Which is still more than Napoleon Dynamite AND Nacho Libre combined did (never bothered with his most recent film).
posted by cerulgalactus at 11:05 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


"We want all kinds of people to come to the fair."

All kinds. Even their kind! See? We're really open and welcoming!
posted by molecicco at 11:05 PM on September 13, 2010


If only they rejected the ads based on Hess' magic formula of THRIFT STORE CLOTHES + WIGS = LOLs.
posted by benzenedream at 11:06 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


And of course, the resulting publicity will just give these ads a wider audience, giving the fair free publicity. Hooray for the internet!
posted by davejay at 11:14 PM on September 13, 2010


The board's decision may be racially motivated, but the commercials themselves strike me as more demonstrably racist. The singer might as well be in blackface.

Also: Lafawnduh.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:17 PM on September 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


Is this hurfdurf Utah is so white and mormon they couldn't possibly use a black man without being racist, or in the bad outdated soul singer? because the outdated man of any colour is just a weird cliche that's popped up in the last decade in unfunny films. Too suggestive though, what? they worried they might attract too many Tracy Morgan fans?
posted by shinybaum at 11:36 PM on September 13, 2010


Whoa, the humorless grump crowd is out in force here. These ads are bright, funny, and make the Fair look like an enjoyable time which it almost certainly is not. In that sense this is highly successful advertising. What creasy boy says above is probably true, but also I imagine that the people making the decisions here are just not open to the idea of the Fair being satirized in its own ads. Too bad really, attendees who are going to enjoy the Fair on an intrinsic level don't need advertising reminding them to show up. People who would want to enjoy the Fair on an ironic level while still attending and participating are the target audience here.
posted by Locobot at 11:54 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Utah, including both Jared Hess and the people who pulled this ad, has so many overlapping layers of weird that it's impossible to distill it down to a brief analysis or summary. Yes, there's weirdness due to mormon culture. Yes, there's weirdness due to rural culture. Yes, there's weirdness due to Hess' own mockery and (perhaps unintentional) reflection of the weirdness. Yes, there's a clash of Utah's isolationist prudishness and the embarassing reactionary counter-culture that is obsessed with how not-like-Utah it is. And there are many other layers, as well.

But you know what? Every region is like that. Try distilling California's idiotic culture down to a quick, dismissive statement - you can't. And don't even try to tell me that California's not as messed up as Utah. I live in California and Utah culture drives me up a wall. But California's layers of weird go at least 5 times as deep as Utah's.
posted by The World Famous at 11:57 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


California is like the Inception of U.S. states.
posted by wayland at 12:10 AM on September 14, 2010


Nothing to do with racism. They just pulled the ad because the singer is the Seed of Cain.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:35 AM on September 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


So they pulled the TV ads, but kept the radio ads that had the same audio. Apparently it's okay to sing about sweet rear meat, but watching somebody caress pigs and funnel cakes is just too sensual.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:41 AM on September 14, 2010


Sys Req writes: "The board's decision may be racially motivated, but the commercials themselves strike me as more demonstrably racist. The singer might as well be in blackface."

Exactly. The dancing Sambo-as-loverman is pretty racist in itself. And it's probably racism on the part of the powers that be that don't think a black man is a "wholesome" advertisement for their state fair. So a pox on everyone in that state.

The greater crime?

It's so fucking played out and unfunny.

Why not just have a joke about him having an enormous cock as well?
posted by bardic at 12:41 AM on September 14, 2010


Reminds me of David Foster Wallace "Trip the Fair" (PDF), the humor and consumerism and cynicism. One of his best pieces.
posted by stbalbach at 1:02 AM on September 14, 2010


Also, is it a race issue, or is it that the Utah State Fair people didn't like the implication that people who go to the State Fair have sex with livestock?

After all, Jared Hess is from Preston, Idaho, not Utah. I know several people from Preston, and the two things that come to mind when I think of those specific acquaintences are a) that they're just like the people in Jared Hess movies, and b) they seem to make a surprising number of jokes about people from Utah having sex with livestock. It wouldn't take much for Utahns to connect the dots and realize that this guy from Southern Idaho is mocking Utah farmers.
posted by The World Famous at 1:05 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why not just have a joke about him having an enormous cock as well?

The rooster ad was pulled after the Utah board chickened out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:09 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I should say, to add to what bardic said, I think there are probably several layers of racial/sexual reference going on here: 1) the black male has always been a sexualized figure in the white American imagination; 2) a lot of soul singers like Barry White arguably made use of that figure for themselves; 3) this ad is an explicit reference to that type of over-sexed black entertainer (as is Chef from South Park). So when Hess uses a black actor to portray the over-sexed black entertainer, it's pretty disingenuous for him to then say the board only canned the ads because the guy's black; Hess only cast the guy in the first place because he's black and because he needed a black guy to make his lazy reference to that particular sexual stereotype.
posted by creasy boy at 1:21 AM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


The BOWG agency previously used Napoleon Dynamite and Pedro to advertise the 2007 Utah State Fair here and here.

I quite liked Napoleon Dynamite, so I thought these older ads were funny.
posted by Sutekh at 2:09 AM on September 14, 2010


Can we get some kind of law that Hess is no longer allowed to film food? Whenever he shoots food it makes me nauseous. There's something unhealthy about his aesthetic that makes anything edible look a bit diseased.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:53 AM on September 14, 2010


I'm voting that they were pulled 'cuz they suck.
posted by HuronBob at 3:26 AM on September 14, 2010


Seeing as it is Utah, the only racist thing here is OMG There's a black person in Utah! What if he goes to the fair? it may scare us normal people.
posted by Gungho at 3:41 AM on September 14, 2010


For the first time in life I've thought about the Utah State Fair. Somebody did something right.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 4:21 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I love state and county fairs, and there are a thousand things to laugh at and celebrate, enjoy and make fun of at these preciously still-square events, and a creative person could never run out of material to make commercials, videos, or any type of artwork out of, so why reach outside the fair and drag in a seedy old racial stereotype that time and overuse has rendered into a sour racist caricature? Oh yeah, and imply bestiality? Much as I've enjoyed Jared Hess's work, I have to agree with the reviewer of "Gentleman Broncos" who said that "Hess pushes the envelope places it doesn't need to go."
posted by Faze at 4:54 AM on September 14, 2010


When I saw the ad, I thought. Oh God. "Seventies parody in advertising. Again."

But racist? Really?

This is a guy singing '70s soul music in a '70s soul music manner whilst wearing '70s soul music clothes. I'm pretty certain race plays *no* part in the parody. Race may have played a part in how singers from taht era were marketed and we may be seeing a trace of that, but for all its faults this is simply a parody of soul music from that era.

This is like saying that the child Mr T in the 118 118 advert is racist.

I can't see it.
posted by seanyboy at 5:03 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fair board members told the Salt Lake Tribune that they took the action Friday because the ads were too suggestive and reached the wrong "demographics."

But Jared Hess noted the board didn't pull the radio ads, which contain the audio from the television spots. "They're identical, but you can't see the actor. You do the math,"


Suggestive of what, I'd like to know? If anything, saying "pour some sugar on, baby" while dumping literal powdered sugar on a funnel cake is LESS suggestive than just hearing the audio.
posted by DU at 5:05 AM on September 14, 2010


In New England, we don't have a state fair, we just have the "Big E" - to make up for it, every agricultural community has their own harvest fair.

My folks live in Westport, Massachusetts, having just built their retirement dream-house there. Westport is situated unfortunately between RI and New Bedford, just at the coast, but manages to be somewhat rural in spite of it.

How rural? Well, they have a harvest fair, and it's a stop on the 4H tour where the local kids can show off their produce and cows and such, and they have a middling-decent midway, oh, and a Tractor Pull.

Oh, the Tractor Pull. It was scheduled for just after full dark, so we contented ourselves with wandering down the parking area for the participants. My dad, an engineer and antiquarian, was in nerd-glee when he saw rank after rank of perfectly restored Farm-Alls and Internationals and John Deere's and stranger makes... and then they stopped being perfectly restored, and started becoming mechanical Frankenstein monsters as we walked further down the line, all the way to things that looked like they had four or five engines bolted to a top-fuel dragster chassis equipped with monster-truck tires.

There were dozens and dozens and dozens of tractors here to compete, in a number of classes, and as night began to fall, the parking lot began filling up, and as we left, the line of cars snaked alllll the way back to the highway, which required some serious snaking.

Little Westport, MA, less than an hour outside Boston or a half hour from Providence, was a major stop on the tractor pull circuit, and could command a crowd of thousands.

I love harvest fairs!
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:15 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, what the fuck is the deal with IMDB links making you do their magic reload runaround?
posted by Evilspork at 5:35 AM on September 14, 2010


Is that David Chapelle? It's better than his earlier stuff.

Since when is it racist to employ black actors?

Something like this might be, but not that.
posted by gjc at 7:01 AM on September 14, 2010


(The actual link links to the correct time. The popup plugin does not. 4:07.)
posted by gjc at 7:01 AM on September 14, 2010


The 70s soul parody reached, according to the board, the wrong demographic. What demographic might that be?

They should instead have pulled them because they are tired, unamusing, and make the fair look trashy and unappealing--regardless of the actor's race, creed, color or national origin.
posted by spacely_sprocket at 7:15 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Fair board members told the Salt Lake Tribune that they took the action Friday because the ads were too suggestive and reached the wrong 'demographics.'

'This would not incentivize me and my family and my circle of influence to attend the fair,' [said Roger Beattie, board vice chairman]."
Board Chair: "Godammit. We got a P.R. problem. And it's a doozy. "Hollywood Hess" has figured out the reason we shit-canned his TV spots and not the radio spots. What do we do?

Board Vice Chairman: Let me call my nephew, Harold. He works in advertising. He can help us.

Board Chair: Get back to us ASAP after you've chatted with him.

Board Vice Chairman: Just got off the phone with Harold. He suggests some brilliant businessy words like "demographics." Hell, if I know what that means. Also pretty neat stuff like "incentivize" and "circle of influence." He's sure they'll work to throw 'em off our trail.

Board Chair: Great. Tell Harold he can have as many hamhocks, funnel cakes and corn dogs he wants during the run of the fair!
posted by ericb at 7:24 AM on September 14, 2010


Is that David Chapelle? It's better than his earlier stuff.

Hard to tell. They all look the same!
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:29 AM on September 14, 2010


SlapHappy - speak for yourself. Vermont*, Maine, and New Hampshire all have their own state fairs.

* Vermont has an official state fair as well as the larger "Chaplain Valley Exposition", which most people assume is the state fair.
posted by maryr at 7:57 AM on September 14, 2010


I think keeping the audio versions but axing the video versions tells you the real motivations at work here.

Those commercials were not very good. But they weren't very good BEFORE they aired. It is clear what is going on here.

I also like how the fair board said they didn't review the ads. Really? What are the odds of that? They wouldn't review television commercials that (likely) cost quite a lot of money and were (likely) the bulk of their advertising budget?

They are either lying, or so incompetent they have no place running a PTO bake sale.
posted by discountfortunecookie at 8:55 AM on September 14, 2010


The only black guy in Utah finally lands a job doing some commercials, and they yank them. Where's the justice in that?
posted by crunchland at 9:24 AM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


This just in: The American Post-Racial Era has not yet begun.
posted by spock at 9:55 AM on September 14, 2010


Look, it's not that he's black. That would be racist, and everybody knows Utah is a beacon of tolerance and understanding. It's that he's too black. You understand.
posted by kafziel at 10:36 AM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


We got to tell this country about Utah
'Cause nobody seems to know

posted by mrgrimm at 10:46 AM on September 14, 2010


Hey! I wondered about this but not enough to look into it until it showed up here on Mefi. I live in Utah.

These ads are lousy! They play to racial angst, almost making fun of everything about racism, but not talking about the fair at all. I love the Utah state fair! It deserves a lot better coverage than this.

The Utah State Fair is a poem to the earth and the living traditions of those that raise crops, raise animals, can food, arrange flowers, ride horses, carnies, grifters, square-dancers, and people like me that keep a garden. I go each year to gather images from the fair. On the door of my studio, right now, is a photograph of the first place fancy rooster from last year's fair. I don't think those ads do the fair justice, not the goers, the vendors, the contributors or the people of Utah.

The state fair was expecting some Napoleon Dynamite, and they got like, nostrils! What? The only problem was with the vetting, previewing of the goods. I would make some great ads for the fair next year.
posted by Oyéah at 3:03 PM on September 14, 2010


The state fair was expecting some Napoleon Dynamite, and they got like, nostrils! What?

"I don't judge a man by the color of his skin; I judge him according to the size of his nostrils." —Senator Robert Byrd
posted by Sys Rq at 3:10 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


The state fair was expecting some Napoleon Dynamite, and they got like, nostrils! What?

No you di'int? You didn't just type that did you? Really?

Ya' know what I heard? Blacks also have big lips and kinky hair.
posted by ericb at 3:35 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know I said this already above, but I think a second time is warranted:

Oh, Utah. Bless its heart.
posted by The World Famous at 3:39 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


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