Video-Makers, Stop Disobeying Laws Of Natural Order

Maybe it’s the pique or impertinence that comes with advancing age, but I’m having a harder time digesting content in which the laws of natural order are treated as a mere inconvenience. As an example, consider the piece of programming I happened upon just the other morning.

In it, a young girl entrusts her benign-doofus older brother and a precocious pet with the task of transporting her xylophone to school in advance of a concert in which she’s a featured soloist. Why can’t she tote the instrument herself, you ask? Because she had scheduled a hair appointment just in advance of the big performance, as if it were outside the realm of possibility for the stylist to be running late. Or for an overturned tractor-trailer full of choleric chickens to grind local traffic to a halt (not to mention suppress appetites for the next few months).

Oh, it gets worse. The boy and his simian sidekick botch the task any number of ways. They transport the xylophone without regard to its physical condition; clearly they are not versed in the proper care of percussive instruments, especially ones with wooden keys susceptible to the whims of humidity. Indeed, by removing the keys and treating the frame as they might a husk of stray lumber, they risk unsettling a meticulously calibrated instrument only hours before its spotlight moment.

Am I expecting too much from "Curious George"? Perhaps. Or perhaps monkeys aren’t truly capable of serving as roadies for grade-school orchestras. Altar of zoological fidelity, consider yourself bowed down before.

This unslakeable thirst for video verisimilitude similarly impeded my consideration of Stihl’s most recent metaphor-reliant brand bit, “2015, the Stihl Odyssey.” I’m a fan of Stihl because it makes chainsaws, and I’m a fan of chainsaws because they’re chainsaws. This clip, however, counts as its goal touting the company’s less well-known outdoor power equipment. So you’d think we’d get a good look at the gear and see it in action; the natural setting for the display of a leaf blower’s potency would seem to be a backyard, or perhaps the situs of the Gathering of the Juggalos a few hours after Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J blow town.

Instead, “2015” takes us into outer space. As the iconic “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” music sounds -- and really, at this point the music belongs as much to Ric Flair as it does to “2001: A Space Odyssey” -- we see some guy wearing what appears to be a backpack, floating through space. As he nears the camera, he pivots -- and we see that it’s not a super-space-backpack that’s propelling him Mars-ward but, rather, a Stihl blower.

The connection left to the viewer to make: if you use a Stihl blower, you will be blasted out of your current oxygen-rich atmosphere and into the dark, forbidding nothingness of space, whereupon you’ll die of acute hypothermic pneumonia. Ha, ha -- no, it’s that Stihl blowers are powerful, dude, so powerful that it’d be almost reductive to show them performing the tasks that one commonly associates with blowers.

Suffice it to say that I find this exaggerated approach neither comic nor informative. Also, as far as pop-culture allusions go, “2001: A Space Odyssey” passed its expiration date shortly after “The Simpsons” Homer-fied it. The high-concept plan just isn’t a fit for a meat-and-potatoes brand like Stihl, which does far better with its “Real People” series and Skynyrd-esque music videos (sample lyrical couplet: “Gimme more juice, this job’s almost done/been bustin’ ass for so damn long”).

The lesson, as it usually is: Keep it simple, friend. Reserve the artsy allusions and pretentiousness for brands targeted to film students.

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