Public Servility

It’s hard to describe how much I hate this PSA. Maybe…I it HATE! it with the unbridled fury of a million suns level hatred.

You don’t start talking about life and survival as public enemy number one to your black boy at teenage years. It should damn near part of the pillow talk that makes them. Subsequently, “the talk” is about strategies and knowing your rights; not about being obsequious. You start off with know your rights the term “Probable Cause” and move to other 4th amendment supposition and further survival strategies. As a Black child, or considered as one by the police, you are going to get fucked with at some point during or post-adolescence. This Summer I was harassed by 3 boys in blue (2 dudes, 1 chick) at of a park full of people watching my son ride his bicycle – The same park he’s been to since being an infant. I told the lead cop, “I’m too old for this shit. If you don’t have better than some lame claim for probable cause, go fuck with someone else. I passed my quota years ago.”

I kept a 36×48″ image of this in my office for 25 years.

So obviously this commercial isn’t for my demographic. It’s for white liberals masquerading as a public service letting people feel like their doing something despite there being more than two Americas since there’s been an America. The other goat on my griddle (whatever the hell that means) is I’m curious how many Black people were involved in the production of that video. I don’t mean talent. I mean crew. As I surveyed 10 working actors this year, not one person remembered seeing a Black person on the crew of any major production they were involved in (studio or large agency) for the entirety of 2014. That’s zero. I repeat, I do not know the ethnic/gender breakdown for this particular spot. Next portfolio I’m going to broach this question to the art producers. So the cops get to screw me, the courts, and the business. And I’m supposed to feign outrage over Donald Sterling’s private ravings while you have an industry a fraction away of exclusivity as some Southern-fried golf club? hashtag talk-the -talk? I got your hashtag swinging.

Now on the flip side, quality people are just that no matter ethnicity nor job title. Despite my instant ire raised by hearing a police helicopter I will say I’ve met some pigs …I mean… cops who have done their jobs with tact and humanity. Some have realized they were having a bad day and checked themselves or have talked other people down from figurative ledges with empathy and no condescension. It’s a hell of a gig with a mixed past enforcing spurious laws and intent. Whereas there are worse PSA (the production is absurdly clean so I can’t fault the technique) this one just strikes me as self-flaggelating Disney-fied circle jerk. But hey, it’s not for me and I probably never have to see it again. I will have to deal with the police again.

Blown away

Sometimes I require a reminder why I do this <stuff>. My first recollection of commercial photography that attracted my eye was the old Maxell “blown away” ad. That was not uncommon. Simple idea executed precisely: I’m still working on that concision.

maxell ad campaign

Steve Steigman’s photo for Maxell’s “Blown Away”

This shot is like the blues or an old folk song. It’s spartan and to the point without missing the beat. The UK variant of this shot seems a bit more whimsical/cheeky but I like the shadows and the geometry.

UK Version

I’m digging the VitaminWater series with the guitar player, athlete, and the dancers, etc. The angle, the interplay with the color strip adds a sense of dimension and kinetic energy. The black & white contrasts with the mono tonal color to help with a clean graphic burst.

Vitaminwater (no I didn’t shoot any of these ads. BAH!)

Absolut and Camel ads in the late 80s/early 90s were frequently thematic and very ornate. Those images really motivated me (though not enough to keep diving through this futile search engine safari right now). I would go to Hollywood in front of Gazzarri’s and make certain that I picked up a copy of BAM magazine to get those ads. I think Camel had bought the inside cover and Absolut had the outside back. Camel had a pulp thing going on for awhile that drove me up a wall in a good way (I can’t find any on-line at the moment). Adventure, sci-fi, etc. I was doing film more so back then so integrating some of that feel into my cinematography was accidental but I came to see it later on reflected into my photography.

I don’t recall when this one came out, but it is lighting me up all over again.

In terms of recent things, there are many and I need to push on with the day. Metro L.A. had a campaign a few years back with a carload of Elvis impersonators that would make me laugh. I had it on a point and shoot that walked away from me and thus far I haven’t been able to track it down. The luchadore shot was humorous.

mucha Lucha libre is always a good time

The Subway ad with the Avocardo and “Have I introduced you to my first born son, Avocado?” is killing me but my favorite now is still Playstation’s “Greatness”. When I first saw it, I hated it instantaneously. I don’t even recall why. I believe I was half paying attention. When I finally looked up on one of its runs, I was on it. I’m done typing for the day. It’s time to push some pixels. I will link to the ad though.

If that doesn’t work, the search terms “Playstation commercial greatness” will get you there.