I don't get it.
I mean, on some level I get it: Those high-culture knockabouts at The New Yorker want people to buy their iPhone app and, to that end, have birthed a video promoting it. I understand the concept of promotion. Promotion is designed to encourage the purchase of televisions, baked goods and other items, usually via the vehicles of publicity and advertising. This makes sense to me.
But in terms of execution, tone and technique, I don't know what the hell to make of this video. There's a joke here somewhere, and it either whooshed over my head Lockheed-spy-plane style or pulled an end run on me while I was enjoying YouTube clips of Van Halen and people falling down.
The video unfolds as a mock talk show, hosted by Jon Hamm in aggressive hammin'-it-up (sorry) mode. In front of a generic backdrop, he does his best uninterested-Letterman impression, mangling guest (and clip writer/director) Lena Dunham's name ("Lanny Darlen") and exchanging lazily suggestive repartee about pants. He professes never to have heard of the iPhone or The New Yorker (as if!) and, after Dunham/Darlen describes the magazine to him, likens it to Rolling Stone. The scene is as self-referentially chortlesome as the oceans are salty.
It gets more willfully, stridently meta from there. As the guest spot goes south, Hamm throws to a clip from Dunham's faux movie, The Assistant. In it, Dunham schools her unsophisticated guy-Friday on the features of the New Yorker app, doing so with the requisite air of ironic detachment and making sure to include the post-retro-mumblecore staple of air quotes (in this case, around "subscribe"). The clip ends with "maybe next week we can have sex." In some circles, that's known as a "kicker."
When the video returns to the couch, Hamm cuts Dunham off mid-sentence with "it was super-nice to meet you" and engages her in a charged, drawn-out handshake. Cue the circa-1982 talk-show music, and we're out. But goldarnit, the clip sure leaves us with a veritable wellspring of memories: Of the appropriate usage of "drop" by a lingo-impaired talk-show dullard, of the plug for a nonsensical-sounding obscure web site that leads to an actual obscure web site, maybe even of the app itself.
I've got a whole bunch of questions, but I'll stick to two. First and foremost: Who, precisely, is the audience for this kind of compressed drollery? There wouldn't seem to be a ton of overlap between individuals who'd plunk down $5.99 per e-issue transmission/$59.99 for a full-year app subscription and individuals who dig Dunham's thing, whatever that is. And second: Can somebody guarantee that my poor, overburdened phone won't explode after downloading entire volumes of The New Yorker? I used to subscribe to the print edition (read: "I am very, very cultured and learn-ED, and can banter knowledgeably about a range of important issues, like hydrofracking and Lou Reed") because I tired of having a Leaning-Tower-Of-Pisa of unread issues stacked behind the toilet. Now it's all going to fit on my phone? We live in miraculous times, indeed.
Anyway, I'm sure this clip is someone's idea of amusing. It ain't mine. In conclusion, I don't get it.