Friday, October 17, 2008

Clap your hands! You must believe in firefighters!

Before we get into this, I just want to say that I have nothing but respect for firefighters. It's one of the toughest, most dangerous jobs out there, and I wouldn't have the guts to do it in a million years. But when you plug firefighters into the following commercial? It kind of makes me hate them.

Really, there's no reason this had to be firefighters at all, except that I guess they're a key demographic for Nextel's Direct Connect service. And, of course, they're blue-collar Joe types. If this commercial wasn't paid for by the Republican Party, it might as well have been.

Onscreen Graphic: "What if firefighters ran the world?"

I don't know. Who'd be fighting all the fires? Volunteer fire departments, I guess.

Fire chief: "How about the budget?"
Firefighters: "Balance it!"

Any ideas for balancing it? No? Okay. Meetings with our economic advisors? No? Meetings with a genie who will magically balance the budget as our first wish? Sold.

Fire chief: "And the taxes?"
Firefighters: "One page or less."

I assume here that they're talking about the number of forms they have to fill out come tax time. I'm not an accountant, but if you work one job and aren't itemizing your deductions, you're probably not dealing with much more than one page. And even if you are, there's probably a reason you are. The United States tax code is notoriously complicated, but I'm not sure paring it down to nothing would be terribly effective either.

Fire chief: "Anyone want better roads?"
Firefighters: "We do!"

Wish #2: Better roads! Kind of vague, so hopefully the genie isn't secretly evil and just buffs up one block of Main Street.

Fire chief: "All in favor?"
Firefighters: "Aye!"
Fire chief: "Opposed?"
Fire chief [bangs gavel]: "Done."

What? What is done? What, exactly, have you accomplished?

Fire chief: "A lot of paper to tell us we need clean water. We need clean water, guys?"
Firefighters: "Aye!"

Final wish: clean water. For the record, the reason there's a lot of paper is because maybe having clean water is about more than just wanting it. Maybe it's about having laws against water pollution, tax credits to businesses that reduce their pollution, environmental legislation, whatever. It's certainly about more than going, "Yeah! I want that thing you just said! Let's do it!" Look, I know this ad is just supposed to be cute, but in an election year it strikes me as irresponsibly reductive. And really it's just stupid. Does anyone believe politics could ever work this way? Does anyone really believe that having better roads is just a matter of going "Hey, let's get some better roads," and doesn't involve tax hikes, construction proposals, and various expenditures?

On top of all that, how is this really that good of an ad for Direct Connect? Everyone in it is in the same room.

Fire chief: "This is the easiest job I've ever had. We're outta here."

"After being voted out of office in a landslide in the following election, the firefighters were confused. 'I don't understand,' said the chief. 'We had a 30-second meeting in which we all agreed that the budget should be balanced and the water should be clean. What more do people want?'"

This ad makes no sense even from a firefighters' standpoint, unless this is what usually happens:

Woman: My baby! My baby!
Fire chief: Hey guys, there's a fire. We want this fire out?
Firefighters: Aye!
Fire chief: Good work. We're outta here.
Woman: What? Wait! My baby!
Fire chief: Oh, some broad is screaming about her baby. We gonna save her baby, guys?
Firefighters: Aye!
Fire chief: Done. This is the easiest job I've ever had.
Woman: You haven't actually done anything! You just said what you were going to do and then started to leave!
Fire chief: [chuckles] Look, lady. Why don't you leave the problem-solving to the professionals? Come on, guys, ten-cent wings at Murphy's starts in 20 minutes.
[house burns down]

Really portrays firefighters as hard-working heroes, doesn't it?


Quivering P. Landmass said...

It's funny how it's still totally acceptable to use stereotypes when it comes to your profession. You know, I've met a number of firefighters in my life -- and they've been almost universally smart. They read books and discuss politics, and they don't all come from blue collar Brooklyn. I really wonder what actual firefighters think about this ad.

Anonymous said...

Having a simplified tax code would improve a lot, but that is a side note. I agree with your basic argument against this ad. However, the politicians do, in fact, talk way too much. Of course, their work in complicated by many of their special interest groups that they try to keep happy.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. This commercial is retarded. I think it also shows how ignorant the average american is. Actually believing that it is that simple to do things like balance the budget.