Product Placement

21 05 2008

Not too long ago, I kicked back and started thinking about why I’m such a fan of historical epics, sci-fi films, and fantasy movies. I can watch Gladiator, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings over and over again until I’m half-starved and blue in the face, and the idea of this doesn’t seem to bother me at all.

While watching ‘Knocked Up’ last night, I suddenly realized why I love these three genres so much: NO PRODUCT PLACEMENT.

Figure 1: You will not find a Lockheed Martin badge on an X-Wing

I’ve seen Knocked Up at least four times, but last night was the first time I really noticed how heavily Apple Computer advertised in that movie. If you look carefully enough, you’ll realize that every computer in the movie is a Mac. This is fine, right up until the part where it becomes implausible. Namely, the five unemployed male losers that (whose ‘job’ is to create a website that tells when chicks get naked in film) that star in the movie somehow own a 17″ PowerBook – a laptop that costs at least $3,000

I don’t really have a problem with producers allowing companies to advertise in their movies, as long as doing so doesn’t cut against the grain of reality and as long as the advertising is subtle. At least Knocked Up kept the product placement relatively ‘soft’, albeit unrealistic. But it’s those movies that jam the advertising down your fucking throat that are just downright insulting. Here are the most recent offenders that I can remember:

1.) Minority Report: the only thing I really remember about this movie is the fact that it was a gigantic Lexus ad. Everybody was driving a futuristic Lexus, and all the buildings were awash in Lexus advertising. Minority Report was an entertaining film no doubt, but as far as I’m concerned I will forever know it as the one that wins the Oscar for ‘Most Effectively Blitzkrieged by a Single Advertiser.”

Figure 2: Uglier than Tom Cruise’s soul

2.) I Robot: this flick was virtually gang raped by product placement. From the money shot of Will Smith’s new Converse sneakers, to the even longer money shot of a JVC sound system, product placement is shoved handily up your ass throughout the movie with no hope of it ever stopping. The automotive dominance of Audi in this movie, combined with the dominance of Lexus in Minority Report, suggests that the future will be filled with crooked detectives able to afford luxury cars with kickbacks taken from organized crime. Maddox’s article on I Robot should be read by every person on the goddamn planet.

3.) Casino Royale: this fucking movie wins the Oscar for “Most Insanely Out of Place Product Placement.” The whole premise of the James Bond franchise is wowing men with things they will never ever have: a license to kill, futuristic gadgets, insurmountable cool, the ability to travel around the world, access to ferociously hot women and the charm to get them ALL in bed, and, of course, expensive cars. To the last item, then, you must remember that the first car Jimbo drives in Casino Royale is a Ford Mondeo, the logo of which the camera is fixated upon in extreme zoom for a solid ten seconds. If the rest of the movie hadn’t been so badass, the only thing I’d be able to remember is that MI6 had an enormous budgetary shortfall last year and couldn’t afford to put Mr. Bond in a decent whip.

Figure 3: Comes out of the closet James. We still love you.

4.) Sex & the City: a special award goes to this six-year orgasm of fashion product placement and brand name dropping. Prada, Dolce & Gabanna, Manolo Blahnik, Versace, Chanel, and countless other designers wrapped Carrie Bradshaw’s bony pale frame in a completely impossible shroud of Italian fashion. As evidenced in the episode where this vacuous bubbleheaded vagina pirate couldn’t buy her own apartment, she had a tiny income and virtually no savings – yet inexplicably owned a closet full of shoes costing upwards of $500 a pair, and seemed to add to this collection in just about every episode. There’s nothing more blithely irresponsible than a series/movie that suggests spending 60% of your income of footwear will lead to good things in your life.

Figure 4: Reality

Got other examples? This shit is making my damn blood boil this morning.