Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturn: Whose POV?

If I were not chronically ill and stuck in bed for extended periods of time I would not watch/listen to so much television, and you would be reading someone else's blog. But I am, and am, and do, so here we are.

Saturn has a newish commercial out, in which a man speaks past the camera, presumably (therefore) to someone we can't see -- perhaps an interviewer -- and immediately avers that when he comes home, he turns on the television and listens to pundits talking about the fact that American car manufacturers are not producing cars that Americans want to buy. He calls it a fact; I may be misquoting slightly but I have the essentials correct. He uses the word "pundits," these days a rather popular word in ads, meaning "self-professed or actual expert," used in these instances derogatorily to mean "self-professed." So why, then, does he use the word "fact"? It's odd. But he goes on to explain, again oddly, not that Americans DO want to buy some American cars, but that Saturn has recently PRODUCED some new cars. He emphasizes that the cars are not revisions of older models but totally new cars, which may be of interest but certainly has no relevance to his argument against the assertion of the so-called pundits. In fact, he never actually rebuts their assertion. He never even says anything along the lines of, "they're right; Americans don't want American cars... but they SHOULD and here is why!" He just tells us what he hears them say when he comes home from work and turns on the TV, and then drops the ball.

He ends the ad, still looking past us at the unseen recipient of his "information," by urging us to stop by and check out the new Saturns, adding that "we" have always stood by "our" cars (or some such thing). Okay... if he works for Saturn, 1. why does he have to come home and turn on the TV to find out what the "pundits" are saying and 2. why isn't he speaking directly to us when he urges us to come by and see what he's got? Lately I've been seeing this "technique" of having the speaker look past the camera used and abused half to death. SOMETIMES it works. If the intended effect is that the speaker is being interviewed by someone off-camera, or speaking to a friend, not directly to us, this works. But I think some commercial directors use it without understanding (or perhaps caring) what it means, what effect it has or anything other than that "this would be cool" (which, if it gives the wrong impression, has the wrong effect, makes not sense, it is NOT).

Semiotics aside, the whole thing is just a shifting, albeit brief, hodgepodge of non sequiturs. Makes me want to run out and buy a Saturn... NOT. Aww, that's not fair. The new cars might be quite nice. I'll never know.

Of course I don't drive. Please don't take this to mean I'm just a pundit when it comes to auto ads. I know incompetence when I see it. Find yourself a new ad agency, guys!

Addendum, 9/14/09: Well, I do not flatter myself that Saturn or its minions (no, honestly, I have nothing against Saturn; the cars even look okay!) read my blog, but the very same day I wrote this, the ad changed: it begins, audially, the same way, but with a label identifying the speaker as a Saturn dealer, and a line has been added saying outright that (proving the "pundits" wrong) Saturn makes cars that Americans want to buy. Obviously unless I fall prey to a severe and sudden case of megalomania, I must believe that others have noticed the shortcomings of the previous version of the ad.

The POV problem remains.

(And I still don't drive!)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Criminal Minds

For reasons unknown to me, I've been watching every episode of Criminal Minds available to me, and for reasons also unknown to me, the show's been extremely available lately. In the last couple of weeks I've been able to see at least two full seasons' worth of episodes... maybe more. Most have featured Mandy Patinkin; a few have been late enough to feature Joe Mantegna. I like both actors. I've witnessed the demise of Elle and the rocky introduction of Prentice. I've seen Reid with various lengths of hair.

So, you say, in that comforting tone, now now, there there, lully lully (okay, enough of that!) why shouldn't you? Knock yourself out. Nothing lasts forever. Catch it while you can. You enjoy it, you like it; go for it!

But I DON'T, that's the thing. I mean I kind of do, but it's maddening... because it is NOT a good show. The insufficiencies are overwhelming and I, who enjoy being drawn in, am pushed out by glaring booboos every step of the way. It's torment. Why am I doing this?

Because I like the IDEA of the show and because I like some of the ACTORS in the show (Patinkin, Mantegna, getting to like Gubler, never was a Dharma etc. fan but starting to appreciate Gibson, and I even like one of the sometime DIRECTORS of the show, himself also an actor who appeared (if you can call it that) in one (or two, as it's a double) of the episodes: Charles Haid. Vangsness is funny if somewhat clichéed (as written). Never felt much for Cook or Glaudini one way or the other, though Cook made a funny face the other day. Moore... I like him but (as I shall detail) I heard him blow a(n admittedly badly written) line in one episode. I haven't seen Brewster enough to feel anything. The unsubs: almost all as hammy as a fist in the face.

These ramblings being random, I'll qvetch chaotically. Here, in absolutely no order whatever, are my quibbles, large, small, medium and medium rare:

When the producers replaced dark-haired somewhat older male Patinkin, they chose dark-haired, somewhat older male Mantegna. When they replaced long-dark-locked female Glaudini, they chose guess WHAT? Long-dark-locked female Brewster. It's as if they're making sure that we, the audience, who obviously not only judge people by such superficialities but expect a cross-section of physical types, don't get CONFUSED about these folks' roles. I find this offensive, my longtime admiration for Mantegna notwithstanding.

The plots are twisty, no? Also turny, yes? So how come I, for one, can guess what's going on long before the BAU does? Am I brilliant? Well, yes, but that's beside the point. The point IS: the show wants to make you feel smart (even if you really are). I find this condescending, as, come to think of it, I also find the fact that in every show, the team members explain stuff to each other than they surely already know (or they wouldn't have made the team). This is for the benefit of the audience and probably has to be done, but does it have to be done so heavy-handedly? Can we not explain the different types of serial killers in such stodgy detail EVERY single time, but maybe work it into the dialogue some other way? Of course that would take some writing skill... which brings us to a certain line given the hapless Moore:

"Do you know what they do to guys who hurt children inside?"

Okay, badly written line there. Should be more like "Do you know what they do inside to guys who hurt children?" But we get what we get. Moore could've protested I suppose, but he'd have had to understand what he was reading to think to do that. I'm not calling him stupid. He doesn't seem stupid to me. His reading of that line was stupid:

"Do you know what they do to guys, who hurt children inside?"

Oh, does someone hurt children's insides? And do they do something different to gals?

He could've read it properly this way (it would still be awkward but it would mean what it was supposed to mean):

"Do you know what they do to guys who hurt children... inside?"

Well he should've told the writers it was crap and said what he felt like saying.

This quibble is with A&E and not with the show itself: why is it okay to show lingering closeups of mutilated corpses but not okay to say the words "ass" or "bitch" (both of which also mean certain animals, in which context they're not even deemed offensive, though I admit in no case in this show do they mean certain animals)? If I can watch someone slice a wound into a captive's arm, I should be able to hear the captive utter some fairly graphic language in response.

Oh, there are isolated (but glaring) moments I should've written down to share with you. They're lost in the recesses of my obsessed brain. That's right: obsessed. Why else would I be watching this stuff day after day, sometimes hour after hour?


I keep hoping they'll get it right. I want them to get it right. I need them to get it right.

Such a sucker!

When does Ugly Betty come back? I miss Ugly Betty! That show is PERFECT!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Where to Find my Nonbloggy Writings!

Try this page: . It lists most of the writing on my website (check the product pages; I have hidden some essays there too!) and links to my ESSAYS page which lists off-site stuff.