Sunday, January 14, 2007

Are you inundated with this?

The Burj Al Arab is all over Korean TV all the time, particularly in commercials. It's advertising shorthand for "the good part of globalization." The operative question is 'Why now?' The building was completed in 1999, not, as best as I can tell, by a Korean construction company, and yet it figures prominently in an ad campaign by Doosan Heavy Construction. There's a lot of advertising shorthand floating around in Korea, because Korean media types are, by-and-large, extremely lazy. Other elements currently being incestuosly passed around the Korean airwaves:
  • The main characters of commercials staring off into the distance in front of a rising sun, in a vague approximation of a soviet propaganda poster (seen in commercials for gingivitis medicine, fried chicken, and two movie trailers).
  • People pulling plants out of the ground only to discover something unexpected (e.g. a pig, a bottle of vegetable juice) in place of the roots. This one is particularly glaring in that the actress in two of the (unrelated) commercials is the same.
  • Koreans presenting the products or the fruits of the products to their foreign friends, who react favorably to them, typically in stumbling, phonetically memorized Korean (seen in a commercial for a Foreman grill rip-off, a refrigerator, and hot chocolate).
  • In commercials for energy drinks or anything 'healthy', the first action undertaken by the young, tie-wearing male office worker main character after consuming the product will inevitably be to call a foreigner and have a business phone call in halting, phonetically memorized English ("Oh, Michael, how ah you? Berry good, dengs!")
  • Recently someone used one of the songs on Keren Ann's great album Not Going Anywhere in a commercial, and other lazy commercial makers took the easy way out by borrowing the CD from the first valiant innovator and using half the other songs on the album in their commercials. Some try to excuse this as some kind of deliberate trend-making effort, but the fact is that in the circles they run, the average Korean is about as likely to hear something new as the average American is to hear a really good raga. That leaves little choice for these slowpokes other than to just keep sucking that same teat until it's so dry and chapped that someone's got to call their cousin in L.A. and say "Give me something new but not too new."

What I'm getting at here is that, just as people speak of the banality of evil, there is a definite correlation between laziness, artistically, ethically, intellectually, and otherwise, and shittiness.

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