fashionista_35: (What the Deuce?)
First off, I can't seem to post or reply from LJ, so forgive me-- I'll check periodically to see if it'll let me back in. In the meantime, a post I've had on my mind for a bit.

As is usual during the summer, I'm watching a lot of baseball. And because advertising is what it is, most of the commercials airing during the games are aimed squarely at men. Because, you know, the wimmenfolk couldn't possibly be interested in eighteen hot men in tight pants, sweating it out in physical exertion. Naaaah. Couldn't possibly have any interest whatsoever.

*ahem*

Anyhow, this season's favorite product seems to be the Just For Men haircolor. First off, these commercials are annoying as hell. But beyond annoying, a couple of them are downright creepy. Like this one, for example:



Okay, that just has a weird-ass vibe of the little woman waiting at home for her man, except it's his daughter? I mean, yuck. Every single time I see it, and we're talking several times during any given three-hour game, I feel like showering with very hot water and lots of antibacterial soap. My husband says it creeps him out too—he said, "You wonder where Mom is, right? You get the vibe that daughter chopped her up and has her stored in the basement freezer, just as a warning to any potential interlopers."

(Side note: I love that man. Seriously.)

Then there's this one:



It's supposed to be cute and innocent, right? But it's just... ugh. It has another one of those distinctly uncomfortable vibes. First off, who's looking after the girls while Daddy's on his bumpin' uglies excursion? And that he sends them a picture? Inappropriate much?

But this one got me thinking, because thematically, it's not that different from this commercial, which I love and that cracks me up every time I see it:



And I started wondering, what it is, exactly, that makes the T-Mobile commercial charming, vs. the undeniable squickiness of the Just For Men commercial?

I think for one thing, the T-Mobile commercial doesn't take itself too seriously. It sees the potential humor in the situation. The dad initially reacts completely appropriately in that he's vaguely annoyed that his daughters are discussing his private dating life with their friends. But then, like any guy, he perks up and shows some interest when he finds out that someone thinks he's "super-delicious." The delivery, the timing, the overall execution shows a healthy sense of humor.

The Just For Men commercial, by contrast, has no humor. We're supposed to take this seriously, that these very young girls have that much interest in their father's dating life and think he'd be a "good catch." That rings so wrong to me-- little girls that age generally don't want to share their daddies, much less think of him in terms such as "good catch." Perhaps that's something else-- overall, these girls are younger than in the T-Mobile commercial—at least two of the T-Mobile girls seems as if they're old enough to be nursing their own crushes and the oldest could even be of an early dating age, so they're naturally going to become more aware of their father's social life. And it's just FUNNY.

So why am I going on about this? Because comparing and contrasting these commercials made me start thinking about what makes books with similar tropes and themes either work beautifully or be total wallbangers. What made me absolutely love Outlander and want to toss The Times Traveler's Wife when there were similar themes (and indeed, were compared to each other when TTW came out).

Expectation is part of it, I think. T-Mobile has a history of gently humorous commercials while from what I can tell, the suits who created the Just For Men commercials have no humor. But that can't be the sole factor, because I'd still find the T-Mobile commercial funny and the JFM appalling.

What it comes down to is execution. And that's actually a rather personal thing. How a story is executed can work beautifully for some readers, while it can completely fall flat for another. I know people who can't get past the issues of infidelity in Outlander while to me, it worked, because of how Gabaldon executed the story. Personally, I can't get past what I see as the rule-breaking and story manipulation that Niffenegger committed in TTW, while many people don't see the same instances as breaking rules, just a case of the story unfolding in its own unique way.

Another comparison, character, this time, is between Scarlett O'Hara and Vivi Abbott Walker from The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Both southern women, steel magnolias, if you will, who are vain, willful, commit unthinkable acts, generally for their own benefit and selfish means, yet in the end, do a lot to keep their families going. Yet Scarlett is seen generally as a heroine while Vivi is pretty much universally loathed. I think in this case, it's because Scarlett is the lead of her book, while Vivi is the secondary character in Ya-Ya Sisterhood and we see most of her behavior through her daughter's eyes.

So, am I off my gourd, or am I possibly on to something here? Do you guys have examples of similar premises in television, film, books, music, or whatever, where one worked for you and another didn't and why do you think that might be?

Posted at DW, comments welcome wherever. :-)
Mood:: 'cheerful' cheerful
On iTunes: Josh Groban- Lullaby (Live Soundstage)

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