I have a theory that's kinda sorta gonna blow your mind, people, so try and stay with me as I lay it on you. It has to do with the preponderance of famous-type individuals ("celebrities") who are appearing in online videos ("online videos") nowadays. I hate to ascribe motive to anyone I don't know personally - that leads you down a slope as slippery as a slope coated with Teflon lube - but I'm starting to think it's because these celebrities are compensated for appearing in them, rather than because they're motivated by altruism or the chance to produce online content of enduring artistic worth.
Sounds crazy, right? But since summer's end, my e-mailbox has been engorged by missives touting PSAs and brand-boosting clips headlined by famous folk. The underlying thinking appears to be something along the lines of "you wouldn't watch this clip and your cheeks wouldn't redden with the first blush of imminent cause/brand love unless an appealing personality has, by virtue of his presence, given it his tacit endorsement." That sentiment usually worms its way into the subject header, à la "Cher Sez: Beets Is Beautiful!"
In fact, I received one such forward volley the other day: "Steve Carell Threatens To Smack You." Since I don't want to be smacked, by the country's preeminent smarmster or anyone else, I clicked through. I landed at OurTime.org, one of lord knows how many entities hoping to spur unregistered voters to get off their asses. The goal is noble and worthy; the execution is weak, even when filtered through the prism of impending mauling-by-celebrity.
The OurTime.org videos have famous-type individuals in great abundance: Carell, Jessica Alba, Will.I.Am, Usher, Rachel Zoe and more. Another clip features a "slam poet" laying down the truth-with-a-capital-T-and-a-capital-RUTH. Unfortunately, they all appear to have been filmed in a dusk-shadowed echo chamber, and it's clear that the celebs were working without a script. That's how a plaintive get-out-and-vote message gets muddied with a call for voters to "be as loud as amplifiers, be as loud as rock and roll, be as loud as triumph." It might not seem possible, but Will.I.Am is even less of a speechifier than he is a song-poacher.
Carell is half-funny when discussing how the Internet eases the voter-registration process ("if you can't get online, there probably is no helping you at this point"), but so what? OurTime should've armed its celebrity minions with, like, facts and stuff. Thus in the Carell-teased videos, there isn't any truth in advertising, which means that everything I know is a lie.
That's not the case with the clip embedded in an email subject-headed "Snoop Dogg and Hot Pockets' New Music Video." Here's why I was on board with whatever the clip contained before I even watched it: I fully believe that Snoop Dogg eats Hot Pockets. They're stoner manna. Throw in the close-enough iambic and phonetic similarities between Snoop's "Drop It Like It’s Hot" and the clip's "Pocket Like It's Hot," and somebody's job wasn't all that difficult that day. (Per the email: "In collaboration with their client, Nestle Hot Pockets, Threshold Interactive conceived the parody video for Snoop Dogg. And no, they weren’t all sitting around stoned when the idea dawned on them." Hoy-o!)
The clip itself? It's another parody of rap-video memes, complete with fly girls and scenes of beautiful people shvitzin' in saunas while bobbing their heads to the beat. There is a rapper with a "hott cheese" medallion around his neck and a dancing hot pocket. Of course there is.
Sure, the rap-parody conceit has been bludgeoned to death and sure, the lyrics don't make a whit of sense, in a comedic or branding context or any other ("I've got the pockets in my arms/Settin' off smoke alarms… Get off my pockets, you gotta back up/Yup, that's what's up, now sign the prenups"). But hey - celebrities! Dancing girls! Forced rhymes! Snack-food empires have been built on far less.