Now, before you scoff at the idea of an entity as lowbrow and mediocre as Taco Bell being the center of our culture, remember that it’s the biggest companies that get the best writers for their commercials. And I’m talking about Wendy’s, and I’m talking about Sonic, and, of course, insurance companies, everybody’s favorite.
My favorite commercials tend to come from Wendy’s and Liberty Mutual insurance, as it were. Now, a common thread sustaining the content of these two outlets is the idea of the ludicrous — the characters exhibiting bizarre, unacceptable behavior, or getting thrown into situations that are easy to ridicule.
The Taco Bell commercials are a different avenue entirely. The characters are actually “cool” — like glib, not the subject of jokes, appearing to have all they need and to have all their ducks in a row. I particularly enjoyed the last one they aired because it’s got one of the best mainstream pop-punk songs I’ve heard in a while soundtracking it, Madison Beer’s “Say it to My Face.” This tune is quick, boisterous and real, in a way that’s totally original, and it’s got a stalwart ability to combine elements of frustration (general explication of having to deal with a**hole people on an everyday basis) with a final, indulgent victory over this situation (the proclamation that “You’re never gonna say it to my face”). Additionally, the people eating the burritos or whatever in this commercial are actually out in the desert, in the middle of nowhere — the ideal Taco Bell setting. And they’re just kind of like, yeah, we’re out in the desert. You got a problem with that? It’s the glibness that sells it.
A commercial that aired earlier represents a perhaps even more intriguing instance of this glib “coolness” manifesting into something like a solid unifier of culture. It combines the absurd with the convenient, in other words — the paradigm of not having to exert any effort to achieve what you want, and, more importantly, “coolness.” The commercial starts with a shot of these three girls in a car that’s on a street under a bridge — actually the explicit impression is given that the girl is in the process of buying drugs. No matter, though, because two seconds after the girl gets out of the car, under the impression that the other two girls are going to wait for her, we get the declaration from one of the other individuals that “We can’t wait forever,” all hushed in tone and apparently oblivious to the fact that they’ve not yet even waited 10 seconds. But stuff like this doesn’t matter, as we know. When the girls get back, it’s to an irate friend, who probably has one of the best steely-eyed glares of any girl I’ve seen in a while, but with “Nacho Fries,” the greasy pile of carbs and cholesterol, that, in this fictitious world of Candy Land “cool,” saves the day and gives her body just what it needs to strive and succeed. I’ll give it two thumbs up: right after I wipe my hands on my jeans.
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