Bushmills' "Breaking Boise" Breaks Bad
[Spoilers contained herein. Actual video critiquing begins in paragraph four.]
The nice judge lifted the restraining order on Monday morning. After enduring a year of non-stop yammering about this deliberate, darkly hilarious AMC show I happened upon while searching for a Rambo-a-Thon, my friends told me they had heard enough. When I persisted in sharing my undergrad-grade gibberish about how the season-two-ending plane crash represented a cosmic reckoning and how the lead character's journey subverted patriarchal tropes in the interest of exploring anti-iterations of modern masculinity, they hauled me into court and successfully pressed for the order. The judge granted it. No longer could I analyze, speculate or otherwise gush.
So when the pop-culture gadflies caught up with me and were all OMG GUS, I could only sit around and yell at strangers: "Hey, I was listening to Radiohead before OK Computer! I wasn't alive in 1887, but if I had been I would've been saying, 'Not for nuthin', but this van Gogh kid is a good painting-type person! Who exhibits telling signs of mental and emotional instability!" Then I would have detailed how Vince (that's what I would have called him, Vince) and I would have road-tripped (in the primitive automobile that we would have "borrowed" from Carl Benz) to Vienna and gotten him an audience with Sig Freud, who I would've advised to lose the pervy goatee. Then, after the rest of the world awakened to their genius, I would have rejected Vince, Benz and Freud as "SO over."
Anyway, as my little show became a legit sensation during the final month of its being - insert thesis here about Netflix, disruption and evolving viewing habits that makes non-media people want to self-impale on a rusty antenna - I lost the will to proselytize as joyfully as I once had. Why? Because MY show was no longer MINE. I had to share it with mom, watercooler hobos and 4,785 morning-after recappers. I loved the show's final season as much as I've loved any semi-animate entity (to anyone who pooh-poohed the implausibility and relative neatness of the finale, I ask this: Where were you during the train heist?), but there was only so much one could talk about the thing everyone was talking about.
Which brings me to the most recent of what I expect will be numerous heat-seeking brand volleys that lean on actors who brought Breaking Bad to such vivid life, Bushmills' "Breaking Boise." The great Aaron Paul, sure winner of the 2013-2014 Emmy for Achievement in Anguished Wailing, became the most recent "Since Way Back" campaign spokesfella a month or so ago (curiously, not long after appearing in an extended Ciroc vodka spot with Omar and Billy Batts). Unfortunately - for Bushmills, not for the ascendant Paul - "Breaking Boise" arrives at almost the precise moment that Breaking Bad fatigue is about to set in.
Can't you feel it? The "hatas," so named because they eat Hate Bran for breakfast, are already honing their I-don't-see-what-was-the-big-deal/it-was-no-Sopranos rhetoric. Expect a wave of second-look reassessments to fill the recap void starting on Monday morning. It's dumb, self-consciously reactive and, in the wake of the outpouring of love and admiration, inevitable.
So even before anyone takes a glimpse at the just-uploaded clip, Bushmills might have that unusual burden to deal with - and that's before you factor in the campaign's central premise. "Since Way Back," which debuted some time ago, states as its goal "to celebrate legendary moments that have inspired great stories, and the longstanding tradition of friends sharing these stories together over a glass of Bushmills." That's right: we've got another one for the thickening "bros gon' be bros" file.
"Breaking Boise" documents Paul's return to his hometown to host a screening of one of the final Breaking Bad episodes. Bearded and be-tuque'd, Paul sits around a table at Boise's Egyptian Theatre with longtime friends and earnestly trades bromides about staying true to one's self and stuff. "It's all about staying grounded, knowing where you came from and appreciating what happened," he says, with the resignation of an actor who's been handed a pooch of a script but is too professional to whine about it. At the end of the clip, Paul appears before the reverent crowd and takes a bow. At no point does he append one of his pronouncements with "bitch!" (e.g., "bonhomie, bitch!").
Here's where the clip… breaks bad (hoy-o! nailed it! yeah!). Perhaps to elevate Bushmills over other companies similarly trying to occupy dude-brand turf, "Breaking Boise" attempts to distinguish itself with artistry. The clip is shot in elegant black and white and lit in a manner that suggests cinematographicalish importance. It teems with shots of vistas and landscapes; it pulls back to capture images of a classic car from, like, 37 different angles. To summarize: Bushmills hired a film-school dropout to shoot a straightforward ode to friendship, which is like hiring NFL Films to shoot your daughter's piano recital. We need slo-mo, blurry segues and highly stylized pans for this?
What's ironic is that Bushmills let a neat little brand-video idea pass it by. To fill the seats for Paul's Breaking Bad screening, tickets were hidden all over town. Highlights from a ticket scavenger hunt - that'd be cool to watch, plus the notion of groups of friends watching/experiencing the show together sort of meshes with the "Since Way Back" branding.
Alas, Bushmills chose instead to let content and approach arm-wrestle each other to a draw. As a result, the only entity that comes out of "Breaking Boise" looking good is the city itself. What a warm and welcoming place to live! The Boise Chamber of Commerce ought to buy Bushmills… uh, not a drink, but something. When in doubt, go with a fruit basket.