Monday, March 02, 2015

Fifty Shades of Red, White and Blue

A lot of people didn't like this Saturday Night Live spoof ad with Dakota Johnson and Taran Killam: 

It's not my favorite either (I own the Best of SNL Commercials DVD and have seen most of the others, so I have lots to choose from), but I think it's a success.

Solid satire will always have some edge to it. That's the point. In this case, the spot mocks overly treacly commercials that equate a product with serving in the military. The sketch injects that with recent reports of Western teenage girls joining ISIS. That second part might make this an artifact within a year (though it works now), but the first part will always be timely.

Some insurance companies cater to military families and thus incorporate the armed-forces element into their ads. Fair enough. Other product lines occasionally run a shout-out spot to the troops. Still, there's much fodder for satire any time someone uses the military (or any other patriotic trope) to sell things. Or even to sell itself, as is the case with the Kid Rock/NASCAR National Guard ad. (Seriously, that one's not far from the over-the-top Family Guy spoof that I'm pretty sure preceded it.)

For me, just as when an advertising campaign mars a formerly beloved song, so can it cheapen patriotism. The least we can do is joke about that once in a while, hit or miss. That's also very American.

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