I make a yearly pilgrimage to whichever local rep cinema is playing the "World's Best Commercials"--and have since University. But the quality of this programme has steadily declined over the past few years, making it nearly on par with what I see in between snippets of "America's Next Top Model"--so I don't know why I continue going.
Yesterday, I fulfilled my yearly obligation and took in the Commercials during a matinee at The Plaza here in Calgary. Little did I know, it is the one show in a rep cinema that parents drag their children to, I suppose in some misguided attempt to reclaim the cool their children robbed from them at birth. To any parents reading this thinking that it's great to take their children to see commercials (mostly in other languages) may I make a suggestion? Don't.
A family chose to sit directly behind me in what was a half-full theatre, then proceed to have a hushed discussion about whether it was okay to consume "outside food and drink"; one of the young, moralistic daughters had read a sign upon entry stating that such behaviour was verbotten--and now it lay on dear ol' Dad's shoulders to tippy-toe around why it's alright to break some rules (which I desperately hope will come back to haunt him in a few years when the virginal daughters want to stay out past curfew with "a friend").
Before the show, Dad used a joke he clearly prepared beforehand for the occasion. One of his daughters asked him some question and he answered:
P- "Ancient Chinese secret. Har har har!"
He thought it was a doozie.
No one else got it--so he finally had to explain that it was a line from an old Tide commercial where a customer asks a lady at a Chinese laundry how they get the whites so white, to which the lady responded "Ancient Chinese secret". The daughter still didn't get it because she didn't know what Tide was--which he explained was "like Clorox bleach". Which it isn't. The Mom corrected him by saying, "It's not like Clorox, it's like Cheer." The daughter didn't know what Cheer was either.
M- "Tide's in an orange bottle."
Holy friholy--I was about to explode. I desperately wanted to turn around and say, "It's laundry soap. Tide and Cheer are laundry soaps--so they're like laundry soap. That's the answer to your daughter's question!"
Dad's crummy joke was dragged out with a 5 minute explanation and by the end, the joke well and truly overplayed, and the daughter none the wiser because Mom and Dad are idiots.
As the lights dimmed, questions began pouring out of one of their daughters like Grandpa's flatulence.
D- "Where's this from? What's it about? Is it a car commercial?"
It didn't end. Fresh questions every 30 seconds--with mom reading subtitles and country names--in fact, reading aloud any printing that appeared on the screen.
The questions were painfully stupid. With a giant product shot on the screen of a Sony Handicam, the daughter actually asked:
D- "What's this commercial about?"
M- "Sony Handicams."
Yeah--no kidding. The whole screen is taken up with a Sony Handicam--why didn't Mom let her daughter solve that mystery alone? Exercise her critical thought processes a bit. I mean, unless the kid was blind, describing precisely what is on a one storey screen isn't going to help cure the kid of her case of the stupids.
There was a particularly abstract Pirelli Tires commercial done all in Italian, featuring John Malkovich as a preist and Naomi Campbell as a Hellspawn that provided a challenge for Mom because she was no farther ahead than the rest of the audience in understanding what the Sam Hill was going on.
There was one short reprieve from the questions when, during a commercial featuring a Transvestite prostitute (one of the funniest in the reel), the obvious question came up:
D- "I don't get it."
M- "I'll explain it to you later."
Fat chance, kid. That's the #1 parental avoidance technique in the book.
Just thinking about this matinee has exhausted me. It took all of the patience I could muster from my years as an Anglican Altar boy to not turn around and say, "Jiminy Cricket! Will you shut your gosh dang mouth?!"