Commentary

Dobrow's Latest Installment Of 'Short Attention Span Theater'

We’ve got five interesting-for-different-reasons clips this week, none of which are worth more than three paragraphs. Thus it’s time for another installment of Short Attention Span Theater, in which I attempt to condense content into bite-size column-ettes. Hey, it beats 825 labored words on the latest CGI-dancing-babies extravaganza. Here’s a few lessons I learned:

1. Nobody cares if your last brand video was great if your current one is a dud: Remember that clip from last year, the one where Jean-Claude Van Damme anchored one of his patented splits between two moving trucks? Me too. That was awesome! Better his groin than mine - right, fellas? Hoy-o!

Now, do you remember the company behind it? Before looking up the clip and rewatching it, I asked myself the same question. My answer was, “Yeah, that truck company - you know, the one with the trucks. Or maybe somebody who markets men’s stretchwear.”

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The actual Van Damme enabler was Volvo Trucks. They return to our viral consciousness with “The Casino,” a weightless, unevenly structured hidden camera bit with a payoff so choreographed that a dim child could see it coming from two time zones away. Just as a-ha had its “The Sun Always Shines on TV” and the Baja Men their “Who Let the Other Dog Out?,” Volvo Trucks has “The Casino.” Nice try starting off the press release with “the Epic Split still echoes,” though.

2. One can only inject so much charm into a charmless experience: I had the opportunity to fly somewhere recently and returned home seeking the warmth of my local DMV outpost. So while I awwwwwwwwwwww’d just like everyone else did at KLM’s “Lost and Found Service” puppy retriever, I couldn’t help but wonder why airlines keep trying to convince us that they’re totally lovely.

The act of flying has become so brutish that I’d advise airlines such as KLM to dispense with the niceties about caring for customers. It’s wonderful to be greeted at the gate with a smile and a kind word, but the effect of those niceties wears off the second one starts jousting for overhead space or waiting for a runway slot to open up.

At this point, too much of the experience is beyond the carrier’s control (weather, other travelers, etc.). Me, I’d just assume hear about an airline’s innovations in the name of comfort. Give me two minutes on how a new plane is configured in such a manner as to provide four extra inches of legroom in coach. That has value, as opposed to “have a nice flight” or “we really, really, really want you to think that we're funny and talented.”

3. Give the people what they want: I don’t watch Girls because I am a middle-aged person who lives in the suburbs and has nostril hair. Many people do watch Girls, though, and that’s great. There are lots of shows on TV. Why, if you were so inclined, I bet you could find information on the Internet about many of them.

That’s my long way of saying I don’t get Lena Dunham’s thing - and again, this is fine. There are many other entertainers’ things I do get, like John Oliver and Chrissie Hynde, and I regularly avail myself of their genius. But I’ll say this: Dunham’s series of 12 “#AskLena” clips, designed to promote her upcoming book, are a marvel of self-aware marketing. In them, Dunham answers Twitter-submitted questions candidly, intelligently and self-deprecatingly.

She’s a true force of personality - and the advice she gives is sensible. Dude, I LOVE sensible! If I walk away from these clips thinking that Dunham would be a wonderful person to chat up during a few idle minutes on the Starbucks line, I can only imagine how her true fans must feel.

4. Volume and mania are no substitutes for wit: Jeez, guy, stop shouting. I won’t touch your Dart. You don’t give me any reason to want to touch it. It’s wonderful that your corporate parents are so darn proud of the Bluetooth hook-up, but that’s not exactly the T206 Honus Wagner of auto features nowadays. Start talking Big-Gulp-accommodating cup holders, and you’ve got my attention.

Also, please don’t hijack my computer cursor. I get that your cool tech thing is optimized for tablets and smart phones, whose users can “touch” the car in a vaguely human manner, but we laptop disciples shouldn’t have to bear the sensory burden of your shenanigans.

5. Toy robots are the John Cusack of the household-automation set: Given the geo-tectonics of my house, I don’t have much choice but to use conventional vacuums. This is my curse. With the help of friends and family, I have accepted this and evolved into the well-adjusted person before you today.

But oh!, if this just-south-of-twee, just-north-of-precious, utterly adorable clip doesn’t make me want to run out and buy one of Vorwerk’s Kobold robot vacuum cleaners (think a Roomba, but with sleeker lines). Amazingly, the adorability factor has little to do with it. No, as the toy robot moons over the robot vacuum, the robot vacuum flashes its ability to inhale any number of underfoot-sullying materials. It even sucks up the robot suitor’s gummy love-me-love-me-not flower petals with aplomb. Creativity AND functionality? Swoon.

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