Commentary

Do Not Take 'Short Journeys' With Cadillac

The primary reason I like my car so much is that it works. Don’t get me wrong - I dig the lumbar-riffic seats, 3,700 stations worth of satellite radio and sporadically functional phone connectivity. But ultimately, all that matters to me is that when I press the ignition button (fancy!) the car revs to life. The ability to consistently perform the most basic function associated with a given product would seem to be an important product attribute - it is in my mind, anyway, but you know me and my crazy idealism.

That mindset is why I’ll never find myself behind the wheel of a Cadillac. Whether as an owner, lessor, renter or thief, I have no interest in the Cadillac brand, because Cadillacs break. I base this overarching and totally not unfair conclusion on the experiences family members and friends have had with a range of makes and models. None of these individuals, to put it gently, have become brand evangelists.

So perhaps my opinion about “A Series of Short Journeys,” Cadillac’s most recent brand-content endeavor, isn’t all that relevant (as opposed to my singularly essential takes on other brands/projects). If I don’t like the cars, content promoting or celebrating them isn’t going to resonate with me, either. Maybe?

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Whatever. “Short Journeys” is pretentious to the point of self-parody, the latest automaker content foray to conflate mindless brand gloss with film-school-grade substance. The idea here, as best as I can understand it, is that the high-end features in most Cadillac models have appeal beyond their primary purpose (which is, what - to get riders from point A to point B without physical or geographical disrepair?). I’d argue, however, that there are ways to accomplish this goal without descending into super-luxe cliché.

The silliest “Journey” is the one in which “Grace” recovers from a stressful phone call (conducted on a windy street while bumping into passersby) by sitting in her Cadillac CT6. Once she enters the tranquil inner sanctum, Zen descends upon her like a cloud of locusts. There, as she sits silently behind the wheel - and who among us doesn’t enjoy a good sit? - Grace mentally revisits the experience of the previous minute, this time without the crappy weather and pedestrian pinball. Then the clip plugs the car’s Bose Panaray Sound System and… wait, what’s this about a sound system now? Are we talking noise reduction here, or a unit capable of playing “Creeping Death” as the Big Fella/Gal Upstairs intended? Which is to say: brain-meltingly loud.

Then there’s “Ladybird,” in which a guy relives a fight in which he just (successfully?) participated. It appears to have been a doozy, complete with the vocalization of tough-guy mainstays like “you can’t break me!” Then a voice yells “cut” and we’re shown that, nope, we’ve just happened upon a scene from a movie set, dramatically illuminated by the LED headlights of a Cadillac Escalade. But did we REALLY see what we think we saw? See, the guy holding the boom mic is the guy who was fighting the other guy. This is what passes for an aura of mystery nowadays.

That’s Palme d’Or-caliber artistry compared with “A Sense of Self,” though. That “Journey” looses an Affleck-looking doofus upon himself in the minutes before a woman sidles into his Cadillac CTS-V. Affleck 1 debates Affleck 2 on the appropriateness of Affleck 1’s date-night duds, which prompts Affleck 1 to tune out Affleck 2 and go with his first outfit. When the woman enters the car - props to Cadillac’s enormously chivalrous brand minders for not having Affleck 1 open the door for her - the following exchange ensues: “You look great”/“Thanks. You too.” Marriages have been built upon lesser foundations, I suppose.

The intended takeaway from that last scenario is that, just as Affleck 1 can pivot between “smarmy” and “slightly less smarmy,” the CTS-V can alternate between “driver selectable modes.” The actual takeaway from “A Series of Short Journeys,” on the other hand, begins and ends with “Cadillac has a marketing budget that’s bigger than yours, boy-o.” Hard pass.
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