The Art of Ads

I’ve always loved the way advertisements are used to create interstitial spaces between segments of larger productions. And I’ve always been fascinated with the ways in which ad producers are able to switch our emotional witnesses from a semi-serious fiction such as a murder drama to a laugh-track laden demonstration of laundry detergent’s whitening power. And then, just as quickly, the ad disappears and the drama picks up and it’s all sad and scary.
Last night I attended a fest called Garbage Hill sponsored by The Winnipeg Film Group, which is a low-cost association of seemingly interesting folks dedicated to showing the oddities and beauties of the filmic world. I was impressed by the video documentary I saw last night that showcased cable television ads from the 1980s. It was craftily put together by an artist here and the ads featured curly, loose-haired women and slick-haired men with large glasses selling cars, restaurants, Winnebagos, and houses.
It was a cheese-fest and I was amazed at how distant the 1980s (and how tremendously innocent) are. One talk-show host underhandedly berated a budding film Winnipeg film star for her likely having to sleep her way to the top in Hollywood. Apparently, he shot himself in the head two days later. In another clip, single folks are shown being introduced to each other in fast loops in order to sell dating services. And in one of the finest segments of the film, outtakes of a mobile home salesman is seen giving the best cursing performance I’ve ever seen on film outside of Scorsese.
It became more clear to me how Guy Maddin lifted his actors to their lowest heights and how the odd history of Winnipeg has generated some beautiful wipe-outs.