I Hate Myself For Lovin’ You.

Source: YouTube, Badya by Palm Hills Developments commercial.

I have a love-hate relationship with advertising. I hate feeling like I’m being pressured to buy something I don’t really need but then I’ll see a commercial that is so incredibly brilliant I love it and I feel pressured then to buy something I don’t even want and I really hate that. I also think everybody’s gotta make a living and if an artist can’t make it selling their own art then a job in advertising can provide them with both a paycheck and an outlet. There was a time when a lot of artists thought of selling out as a bad thing, and some still do, but there’s a long history of artists being supported by patrons, and advertising reaches the masses. That’s better than a commissioned painting that would be locked away in some duke’s castle or a minuet that, at the time it was composed, would only be heard by a handful of people in a drawing room. Neither Mozart nor his masters imagined the Victrola, let alone MP3s, but that’s another story.

Some ad campaigns even evolve beyond just selling and become part of our culture and I love when that happens. Those who paid the piper may have called the tune but they can’t stop the tune from taking on a life of its own.

And sometimes art itself gets turned into advertising and scholars and critics may wring their hands over that, but I think it’s groovy that art can be pulled out of its ivory tower, even if it’s being used to sell us Ivory soap.

All this swirled around in my head when I was sitting in a Greek restaurant watching a soap opera in Farsi—it goes without saying that the convergence of cultures is a whole other rabbit hole—and a commercial for Discover Badya came on. Badya is a planned community—a little too planned for my tastes, and I hated that the commercial kind of made me want to live there, but I also loved its clever nods to various artists.

Source: YouTube, Badya by Palm Hills Developments commercial.

Source: YouTube, Badya by Palm Hills Developments commercial.

I especially like the appearance by Frida Kahlo whose self-portraits are as strong and uncompromising as the artist herself. Some may call this Fridolatry, but, again, there’s nothing wrong with mass appeal. If it inspires just a few to find out who Kahlo was and study her art more deeply that’s a good thing. Art isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a walled garden that’s only available to the rarefied few.

And now here’s something not intended to sell you anything.

6 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    I have a love-love relationship with your blog, Chris, and I’m not trying to sell you anything.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’ve completely bought into this comment.

      Reply
  2. Red

    Anything that someone likes, they should be allowed to like, and damn the critics! I heard some girls (tourists) in a night market recently saying “There’s no good wine in Asia” and wanted to stop and debate with them that there are no absolutes where personal taste is involved.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I sort of think of myself as a critic, but I don’t want to be one of those who tries to act as a cultural gatekeeper. What art lasts and what doesn’t is pretty much a crapshoot, but the art that does last is the art that gets noticed, so, as a critic, I think of it as my responsibility to say, “Hey, I think this thing is cool, please look at it and I hope you’ll like it too.” Even when I am critical I try to find the good in something.
      And there’s so much stuff out there that it’s not hard to find what I think is good and skip over what I think is bad–and the same principle applies to wine in Asia. I’m sure there’s enough that they could find a wine they liked if they’d just look.

      Reply
  3. Allison

    I love watching ads from other countries. In fact, when Mad Men came out, I stopped watching once I realized it was going to be a soap opera. When they talked shop, it was amazing. Otherwise… not as much.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      There is something really fascinating to me about the art of advertising, and while I only watched the first episode of Mad Men before quitting the part that really hooked me was Draper trying to figure out a way to sell cigarettes–I guess it was really the art and the business, and the stuff about his home life, which I’ve heard many people say was the thing that got them, just didn’t interest me. But I still love watching ads with a critical eye.

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: