There is a raccoon in our attic. I was first made aware of his presence a few weeks back by my wife, who complained of hearing "footsteps" during the night. But since she tends to err on the side of skittishness and I'm far too delicate a flower to risk a mauling while investigating, I filibustered away her concerns ("it's probably just the heating…vent…people…things"). Or at least I did until a succession of 1:30 a.m. critter shrieks lent the situation a heightened air of urgency.
The next day, wearing my old catcher's gear and accompanied by a bemused exterminatrix, I ventured up into the attic. Tucked comfortably beneath a square of insulation, enjoying the rest he had denied us the night before, was a raccoon. A trap was set (a humane one, though I'd sign off on death by ritualistic bayoneting at this point). That evening, we listened for three hours as Pokey - a fine name for a raccoon, I think - manipulated the cage until he was able to extract the bait (a tin of cat food) without entrapping himself. Last night, he foiled the trap once anew, but took longer doing it.
The last ten nights have thus been scored to the freaky arrhythmic throb of vermin stepdancing. Did I mention that we are also lodging a toddler who solicits my counsel during those same pre-dawn hours? Life is grand.
You'll forgive me, then, if I can't say with 100 percent certainty that one, I am awake and two, that I didn't hallucinate the subject of today's Video Critique discourse, "Ten Resolutions with 7Up Ten." A major-league brand snarkily dismissing activities in which a sizable percentage of its target audience is engaging, at a time during which they're engaging in them most fervently… that sounds like the kind of pitch a marketing exec would come up with during a rabies fever dream, doesn't it?
The high concept in play here is that new year's resolutions are, like, totally hard and impractical. The easiest way for viewers to realize their particular them-ness in the year ahead, then, is to replace the usual promises-to-self with a resolution - nay, a vow etched in virgin's blood - to drink more 7Up Ten. In the series of ten quick-hit monologues, spokesperson Chelsea Handler suggests that getting to the gym more often, watching less television and aiming for a promotion at work demand far too extreme a level of commitment from today's demographically bewitching go-getters. Ergo, soda.
The 7Up folks probably view the tenor of "Ten Resolutions" as tongue-in-cheek, but there's a mean-spiritedness here that's anomalous in even the edgiest of today's web campaigns - really, in any endeavor in which one person is attempting to prompt another to take some sort of action. Take the vignette in which Handler warns resolutioneers off attempting to learn another language. "Learning a new language takes time, and you'll never get the accent right… maybe try something easier, okay, like drawing something, or dreaming of learning a new language," she offers, appending the advice with her grandest I'm-CLEVER grin. That's not nice. Worse, it's not funny.
Even assuming the audience for the campaign is Internet-hardened Gen-Yers who were reared on post-Letterman sarcasm, you've got a product designed, in no small part, to help soda drinkers moderate their weight. Then you go and diminish regular visits to the gym and marathon-training as pursuits that just aren't worth the effort? It doesn't make a whit of sense.
Anyway, as best as I can tell in my addled state, "Ten Resolutions with 7Up Ten" is real, and terrible. I'm as big a fan of winking smart-assery as the next winking smart-ass, but even I can't get behind a rallying cry of "Why bother? Drink soda." Maybe this was a no-win assignment - for all its low-cal charms, 7Up Ten leaves an aftertaste reminiscent of the briny glaze on a public payphone - but it's one thing to have a tough product to shill. It's another to shill it in a way that's almost defiantly obnoxious.