Sunday, February 14, 2010


Roughly 6 years ago, back in the good ol' days of college, one of my fraternity brothers took a film class. One of his projects was to make a short film, and he could do whatever he wanted. He decided to do a parody of martial arts/ninja movies, and relate it to everyday life on our small middle-of-nowhere Missouri college campus. He had a ready and willing cast of characters at his disposal, nearly all of them within the Kappa Chi Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta. Cast as the protagonist was talented actor and artist Jared "Crackpipe" Krichevsky. Non-Fiji Dan "Danimal" Binning, a close friend of ours and a theater major, was cast as a ninja master. I appear as, essentially, myself, reprising a real conversation I had with Krichevsky after a long, sleepless night involving a bunch of drunken revelers who interrupted my sleep before a big test. (I appear again in a later, much funnier gag in which I happen upon a fight between Krichevsky and another fellow Fiji, Mike Zumwalt.)Other Fiji brothers appear as a gang of ninjas, and still others did voice work in post-production. The voices are deliberately out of sync on purpose (to simulate American-dubbed Japanese movies). It has nods to Kurosawa, Looney Tunes, "The Matrix" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", and while it's just a student short film, I think it still holds up 6 years later, and gives me fond memories every time I watch it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day Advertising and Women

Of all the things about the American media that bug me, I don’t think there’s anything more destructive than the portrayal of women in advertising.

Sex sells. It always has, and it always will. But it’s the KIND of sex that is being sold that disturbs me. Billboards, commercials, print ads, and even the packaging on stuff we buy all seem to agree that an attractive woman must be about 5-foot-six, have a size 2 waist, enormous breasts, no ass and long, blonde hair (or in some cases brunette, that’s not a set standard, it seems.)

I don’t have any problem with that at face value. It obviously works, otherwise nobody would notice it. I don’t have any problem with the women, either. They’re good looking and someone probably paid them a lot of good money to pose for an ad. But the subtext when you see all this advertising with the same types of women is that all women look like this, or SHOULD.

Women feel pressured by it. They want to look like the hottie on the billboard or the women in the “buy this thingamajig for your girl on Valentine’s Day” ads on TV. Men feel pressured by it. They want to HAVE the hottie on the billboard. She may be a complete bitch, she may be psychotic, she may a vapid airhead, or she may be a quality girl with a great personality, a good heart and the type who would make a wonderful wife and mother. But nobody knows, because she’s ACTING. She’s POSING. It’s not HER they are selling, but her IMAGE. But lo and behold, if you walk into a shopping mall, a grocery store, or even the local Kwik-E-Mart, you can find products designed to make women look like this advertising model. Magazines scream “Lose weight!” “This season’s top fashions!” “Fabulous hair!” “Makeup tips!” “This celebrity used to be a toad like you, but look at her now! See how she did it!” Clothes are designed to cover as little of the female body as possible, or to accentuate certain aspects of it.

Women pressure one another to fit the archetype. They pick on each other and give each other “advice”. They figure that the closer they get to the perceived pinnacle of perfection, the more men will notice them and other women will accept them.

Well, folks, I’ve got news for you. Most women don’t look like that archetype. Most men, at least mature, real men, are not that picky. If we were, then every male friend I have who is married or in a relationship would have that type of girl. They don’t! Women and men come in all shapes, sizes, colors and varieties, because God made us that way.
Think of the world as a candy store with the members of the opposite sex representing different candies. Some people go right for the chocolate, some want a flavorful, long-lasting gum, some go for the sour stuff. Some choose a lollipop, or refreshing mints, or chewy gummi bears. How boring would it be if EVERYONE chose the same thing? In both candy stores and sexual relations, some people stay loyal to the same brand for life, some try a few different flavors before deciding, and some devour everything in sight until it’s bad for their health.

But I’ve analyzed it to death. The point is, ladies, don’t be pressured by what the media tells you. You’re beautiful in your own unique ways. Tall, short, fat, skinny, blonde, brunette, it doesn’t matter. God made you unique, and men love you for it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Favorite Super Bowl ads of 2010

I usually do some sort of blog entry about the Grammy Awards every year, but I passed this time. The entire show was a train wreck, and some great artists were robbed. Screw the Grammies!

Anyway, I thought I'd weigh in on the Super Bowl. First of all, congratulations to the New Orleans Saints! It's nice to see the underdog win, and win BIG. Big EASY, in this case. A team who has never been to a Super Bowl, let alone won, was able to topple Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis a considerable margin. "Who Dat" indeed!

It wasn't the best year for ads, but it was better than a lot of recent years when they were mostly lame movie trailers, local ads, network promos and cop-outs.

As usual, Anheiser/Busch (Budweiser) had the most ads, but most of them were pretty forgettable. One of them is in my top 5 list below, though.

# 5: Budweiser: Clydesdale and Longhorn
There's always at least one clydesdale horse ad in Budweiser's Super Bowl campaigns, and this one turned out to be their best ad of the night.

# 4: Hyundai: Brett Favre
It may be wishful thinking that ol' Brett Favre will ever make it to a Super Bowl again, but it's hilarious that after all the jokes that have been made about him, he was willing to make fun of himself.

# 3: Coca-Cola: Mr.Burns

"The Simpsons" may not be as funny as it used to be, but I thought this Coke commercial was great. It's hard to make Mr. Burns a sympathetic character, but they managed to do it. Also notice that the Simpsons themselves only make a background cameo.

# 2: Doritos: Dog Collar
This and all of the Doritos ads this year were commissioned by independent filmmakers in some sort of contest. They were all good, but this one was by far the funniest!

# 1: Denny's: Screaming Chickens Across America
Denny's did a series of 3 or 4 of these "screaming chickens" ads. Because of free Grand Slam Breakfast promotion that's going to take "a lot of eggs", chickens freak out. This one was the best, solely for the gag with the chicken in space. In space, it's said that no one can hear you