Sunday, August 3, 2008

The F team

There's a famous story about Brandon Tartikoff, an executive at NBC in the 80s. Apparently he was pitching an idea that turned out to be The A-Team, and the last part of the pitch was simply, "Did you ever see Rocky III, with that guy Mr. T? Well, Mr. T drives the car." I'm guessing that was most of the pitch for this Snickers ad.

As I understand it, this was made for British television, but it's already been pulled over complaints about it that rolled in when it hit the internet. Not hard to see why, is it?

[A speedwalker walks speedily down the street. Mr. T, driving an enormous truck, bursts from a house and pulls up alongside him.]

Mr. T: "Speedwalking? I pity you, fool!"

I'm sure Mr. T doesn't mind saying this line because of all the money it's made him, but doesn't he have to feel like "The 'I Didn't Do It' Boy" at this point? "I pity the fool" was just another line in Rocky III - his calling card could just as easily be "Prediction: pain" or "I'm the baddest man in the world" or "I'm gonna crucify him" or "Hey, woman!" Most of those lines would work in this ad's context, wouldn't they?

Mr. T: "You a disgrace to the man race!"

Man: not a race. Of course, Mr. T isn't an ethnologist.

Mr. T: "It's time to run like a real man!"

Well, why would anyone complain about this ad? It's just a delightful, old-fashioned, queer-harassin' romp! Snickers really has a problem with being even remotely effeminate; remember their Super Bowl ad from a couple years ago where the guys rip out their chest hair to prove their masculinity after accidentally kissing? What's next, a flamboyant guy gets curb-stomped by a Snickers-eating mob?

[Mr. T fires Snickers bars at the speedwalker's legs in order to make him run]
Mr. T: "Take that, speedwalker! Do it again, sucker, and there's gonna be trouble! With a capital Mr. T!"

I'm thinking this curb-stomping ad I mentioned isn't too far off the mark of what would happen if this spot had a sequel. I mean, what's Mr. T going to do to this guy that's worse than firing at him with a giant candy bar machine gun? It's really down to "beat the shit out of him" or "kill him," isn't it?

Mr. T: "Snickers! Get some nuts!"

He's just talking about peanuts, right? I mean, I don't see any other way to interpret that slogan.

You're a candy bar, Snickers. Chocolate, beloved of women everywhere, is a main ingredient of your product. Is there really something so hyper-masculine about peanuts that you have to make "You'd better eat Snickers, you fucking pussy" ads all the time? Also, isn't it sort of odd that an ad so disdainful of men with insufficient masculinity would actually focus the camera on the speedwalker's gyrating ass in the opening seconds?

1 comment:

Quivering P. Landmass said...

Mr. T is a merciless shill. I've seen him on Conan O'Brien completely willing to make an ass out of himself, and repeat "Pity the fool" over and over. He's on the same level as Richard Simmons, I think (which we saw used in a Superbowl ad this year), where you just know he's available to any ad agency willing to cough up a small amount of money. It's not fun or humorous to watch someone slowly lose the small amount of dignity they have left.