Pop Culture Will Eat Itself

by alphamonkey on February 2, 2005 · 11 comments

in Audio Visual

I used to think that Hollywood was this shining beacon, but I’ve come to realize that it’s more like that creepy kid you knew in college who told you he’d let you put a cigarette out on his arm for a dollar.  Except that Hollywood would consider the cigarette thing too artsy. 

Mayhap you think I’m being overly harsh. I ask that you take a look at the Starsky and Hutch movie, the upcoming Duke of Hazzard movie, the Revenge of the Nerds movie, and network television.  If that’s not enough for you, how about this nugget of memory eraser that comes to us in the form of a Volkswagon Golf commercial?

Yes, they’ve digitally manipulated one of the most memorable scenes in cinema history all for a compact car commercial.  Where to begin with this commercial’s crimes?  Is it the utter bastardization of one of dance’s most physical and graceful masters in a pathetic attempt to be edgy and urban? Is it the horrendous remix of a classic song?  Or is it that instead of just finding some modern dancer to wear the clothes and do the dance, they had to desecrate the memory of our dearly departed Gene Kelly by animated his body and imposing his face over another dancer’s.  The guy’s dead, folks. Couldn’t you at least use someone who could voice an opinion on the matter?  Or perhaps it was because they did all of those things just to sell a car. 

If they’d just used some other dancer on the same set with the same song and dance, I don’t think it would bother me much at all.  That certainly wouldn’t push me into the ‘isn’t that cool’ camp, but I doubt I’d hold the same loathing for it.  I know I’m probably being unreasonable, but what bothers me the most is the abuse of Kelly’s dancing.  He was an incredible guy to watch, and easily the most physical and athletic dancer of his time.  His work in Singing in the Rain is just jawdropingly great.  So to cut and paste his body’s movements just so he could do The Robot? The Robot? C’mon!  Wasn’t Justin Timberlake available? 

So why post this at all, you ask?  Because our resident butter addict (Davion) incessantly pestered me to do so.  There ya go, D.  It’s all yours, now.  (Thanks to Tom at Sony for the find)

Somewhere Fred Astaire is thinking “At least they kept my dancing in my commercial”.

  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Posterous
  • Tumblr
  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/om_mani_padme_ olivesmarch4th

    This reminds me of my belief that they should pass a law forbidding advertisers to use pre-existing art forms (music, film, painting, etc.) to sell their stupid products.  If Applebees butchers one more good song I am going to scream.

  • fealty2dahriyah

    you know they love this type of attention to their commercial. I waiting for the day a big fat bloated elvis is moonwalking for a twix.

    advertising the annoying kid always seeking attention, good or bad it doesn’t care.

    get TIVO or a digital receiver if your panties are in a bunch. it’s the telemarket bastards you have to watch for, they are trying to get access to our cell phones now.

    oh and they would actually have to pay a sizable amount of money for JT, blue screening someones face is much cheaper.

  • fealty2dahriyah

    I believe the word is shameless. it’s shameless because it does not do his memory justice, it loots his identy and perverses it. granted I’m all for it, since nothing in sacred anymore. but would you feel the same way if it was jesus’s face on that body popping and locking… you know it could enlighten some people to believe in him again.

    and the king wants a twix and nanner sammich…. feed the king, baby.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/shadwstalkr Shadow Stalker

    I thought it was kind of cool.  I can understand why someone would be upset by it, but I can always go back and watch the original.  This is similar to modern productions of Shakespeare’s plays; a different interpretation of the original that can’t really be compared to it.

    Now I want to see Gene Kelly breakdancing with the Transformers.

  • http://www.transbuddha.com Davion

    Ya, see Shadow Stalker = Not an art student

    Nuff said.

  • http://www.allamericanplayboys.com noochienoochie

    Come on guys, thundercat makes one good point.  Seeing the ad reminds me to go rent a film I haven’t seen in ages–which is probably what the trusties wanted most; an increased interest in Gene Kelly’s work by the general public = even more $.  Coming from a musician who dropped out of art school.

  • http://www.transbuddha.com The Good Reverend

    hehehe i went to google and put in “gene kelly” “car commercial”, and “video” so that I could grab this commercial and put it on Transbuddha.  Imagine my surprise when we were at #1 spot.  I guess we already have it. smile

    I’m going to have to side with my esteemed colleagues, SS and Dav.  I see no harm.  In my mind, Gene Kelly was one of the best dancers ever, and Singing In the Rain is a classic.  After seeing this commercial, I am maintaining both of those opinions.  The ad has not “tarnished” Kelly in any way, so I don’t see the problem.

    There’s some commercial out there where they animate Munch’s “The Scream” guy.  That doesn’t take anything away from the painting.  The Romans adopted and adapted Greek architecture – yet Greek arch. still rocks the Doric hizzy… blah blah pick a category, we recycle and sample.  This is just one more example.

    I thought they could have done a bit better job of keeping the head on the body, but idea-wise, it was cool as hell.  And I like the remixed track.

  • http://www.dadsbigplan.com .alphamonkey.

    You realize that “tarnish” wasn’t a word I used once, right? So why the qoutes?

    I don’t think this ad tarnished or diminished Gene Kelly.  But I do think it was disrespectful of what he was as a dancer, and what that scene was supposed to be about in the first place.

    He’s in the street singing because he’s met the love of his life. It’s a testament to joy, but he’s stopped by a fucking compact car? Dumb.

    Pick what everside you want, I still think it was an atrocious idea.

    PS. Way to stay on top of the front page. 

  • http://www.transbuddha.com The Good Reverend

    I wasn’t quoting you with “tarnish”… the quotes were for inflection (which obviously failed) smile

    And yes, Worker Camp #37482B where I am employed has made it very difficult for me to keep up with the articles.

  • http://www.webr.co.uk/ Rik Weber

    I’m getting the impression from this article and your comments that the producers digitally manipulated Kelly’s actual movements? This isn’t the case, it’s actually an extremely talented dancer (who’s name I can’t remember, and which I was looking for when I stumbled upon this article) with Kelly’s head attached.

  • http://www.dadsbigplan.com .alphamonkey.

    To be precise, it’s three individual dancers doing different parts of the bit.  But yes, at a couple of points they do digitally manipulate Kelly’s body movements (for the transitions between the dancers).  My main objection, however remains that they use his face, when they could have accomplished the same end without it.

    As for the dancer’s name, I bet you’re thinking of ]David Elsewhere.  He (along with dancers Bboy Crumbs and Jay Walker) provided the moves for the spot.

Previous post:

Next post: