AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CREATIVE TEAM AT DRAFT FCB CHICAGO BEHIND THE “BAR EXAM ADDS”
Esteemed ladies and gentlemen,
As an American Male, I like nothing more than beer and football. And that’s culled from a list that includes sex with attractive women with whom I am in a committed relationship, so right off the bat I’m sure we have a ton in common.
And so it is with great sadness and a heavy heart that after watching your latest effort for Coors Light, I have decided to take my own life.
I am not reaching out for some kind of compensation for my family or because I wish to make some kind of statement regarding your advertisement. I am no martyr. It simply has made me lose the will to remain on earth and have to breathe oxygen. Or to, god forbid, meet another human being who, when this advertisement comes up when I’m at a sports bar or some such public establishment, says “Oh man I love this commercial! Everybody shut up for a sec!” That is a moment I will not be able to handle. So I have decided to kill myself as a preventative measure.
You know the one I’m talking about. Although I’m sure you have been making advertisements for the Coors family of beverages for some time, this particular advertisement must be of a particular point of personal disgust. A Rocky Mountain Rock Bottom, if you will.
Let me recap it for you, just in case, because I saw it on every single commercial break this Sunday when I was watching football, and now it plays on repeat in my brain like some horrible mobius film strip loaded into the devil’s projector that he usually reserves only for the gruesomest of snuff films. I have taken some liberties to describe the commercial as I recall it:
Judy is a sexy thing in her late 20s who always excelled at school but felt that her personal acheivements are in owing more to her good looks and sublime skills at putting penises in her mouth and suckling out the warm liquid therein than with brain power. Or at least that’s what her father would tell her, before holding her and crying, saying over and over like a prayer or a mantra in varying degrees of fright and rage: Daddy loves his Judy, Daddy loves his Judy…
Judy felt over-matched at the meeting today. She could tell that others saw right through the veneer of her bachelors degree and right to the inside of her rotten, devoid, shallow whore of a soul. And there was Donald from accounts there again with his hair line receding and some discomforting stew of sweat and grease hanging over his massive shining forehead, licking his yellow teeth, trying to make out the outline of Judy’s nipples through the slip of a dress that separated her firm naked body from the terrible piercing eyes of Donald and the others. She would be fired that day, she could tell.
Yes, it was a long day at the office but she survived unscathed and un-harassed at least physically and she’ll take that as a win as she finally, hurriedly, flustered and not quite sure why, she enters the solitude of her apartment (possibly shared? who can remember anymore… keep it together Jude, keep it together… try not to freak out). She calls her boyfriend, Gary, who reminds her of her daddy but only in the way he uses her for sex and the way he doesn’t respect her opinions on things that matter to him and is indifferent to the things that matter to her, but he loves her, he’s sworn up and down how much he loves her even when he sodomizes her in her sleep and calls her a whore when they make vaginal love and even that one time he accidentally hit her - “I deserved it,” Judy thought, “He loves me.” - so she carefully attempts to not bother the man lest she unleash his rage, that rage she knew which hovered always behind a thin veil of affability like her dress’s fabric that separated her trembling nipples from Donald’s piercing yellow gaze.
"Hi," says Gary, in that voice like he could do nothing wrong. He couldn’t hurt a baby ever again. What did Judy have to fear. This Gary was the one. He wasn’t like the others. From Gary's surroundings we, as a fourth-wall witness to this passive dance of loniness, might assume to be a library… but we would be wrong…
"Hi are we still on for dinner?" Judy replies in one trembling breath, trying desperately to sound and behave the way a normal human girlfriend would behave. She forgets here and now that she is a catch. Judy, you are a beautiful and successful woman you need nothing else, NOTHING ELSE, in this world but your wonderful heart and perhaps your mail, the same mail that you pick up from the table by the hall that you only lift and hold to remember what it is like to lift and hold a thing, to remember that you are a human, that you occupy space. She blew it already, she could tell, he would not be home for dinner.
And then he says it, affirming all of the nightmares and insecurities she has about life and men and sex and love, and it’s the way he says it like a baby that couldn’t harm a man ever again: “Ugh, I can’t. You know I’ve got the bar exam.” …the bar exam? Isn’t that the exam that prospective lawyers study for for like months and months? I should have known about this. Right? Am I really going mad? Judy wonders all this as she faces the silence left in the wake of his words. This is when normal human girlfriends reply, Judy, think of something, be that girl he fell in love with, the one he met at that ski lodge those months ago before you knew of each others personal demons and the evil you were both capable of…
"Well, good luck."
Nailed it, Judy, nailed it. Now you go march into the bedroom and fire up your vibrator and scream your father’s name and regret the day you and your sisters murdered him with his birthday present. A warning to proscriptive fathers: do not accept gifts from your jilted daughters when those gifts are chain saws.
"Thank you," says Gary. And with that all hopes that Judy had of feeling she won the exchange had ended. He thanked her. For allowing him to take the Bar Exam. Which if he was actually doing, would make him a lawyer and thereby a much richer and more desirable partner. The sheer absurdity of it is what made it work, what made these two individual lives continue their separate ways in separate spacial locations but Judy always trying to occupy Gary's inner self, and understand just what he was thinking. If he did love her. Suddenly, and with great sorrow, she very much doubted it.
And now we are with Gary. More context and the richness that surrounds his actual location makes it clear - why we did not see this before makes us feel foolish and like punishing ourselves - that he has been at a bar all this time. Perhaps this was the “Bar” he eluded to. Cleverly played Gary, you are a cunning little devil indeed.
He turns to the bartender with ravenous anticipation, this is the moment he has been waiting for, the reason he has chosen to not spend the evening sodomizing his beautiful girlfriend who he is pretty sure he loved but needed some space god damn it or else he would make the same old mistakes over and over again and need to spend years apologizing to god and whoever else would listen and wasn’t life funny in the way that people never quite change those most horrible private pieces of themselves.
"Okay, one more time," the bartender says as he flings the towel over his shoulder. Gary is too sick and enraptured to realize that real human bartenders don’t actually ever do that and that this bartender is in fact an actor, playing a very delicate part… “one more time,” he said, just “one more time,” as though they have been at this all day. Is this at last the “bar exam” we’ve heard so much about? The one that still was vexing Judy, uptown, in her apartment, as she changed the batteries in “Daddy”… “he isn’t even in law school…” she thinks… contemplating how painful suicide would be if she jumped off of her balcony, fearing most of all that she would change her mind halfway down.
Finally, after an achingly long time, an infinity of sub-moments hidden between seconds and nanoseconds, Gary rubs his hands together - this too not being a thing people actually do - the test is administered:
"This bar means-?" Asks the actor/bartender, pointing to a bottle of Coors Light and the cold-activated indicator at it’s base. "This BAR," must finally be the bar in question. Oh what a tangled web.
"Coors Light is cold?" Gary answers like a question and remembers all those moments when as a child he gave the wrong answer at school and was met with venomous replies from teachers who saw in the boy no promise of a brighter future for America, but could never have anticipated the kind of man that would grow from that seed…
Poor sick sad Gary is unable to decipher the meaning behind the cold-activated tab on a bottle of Coors Light. The tab that says “Cold”, is the one he’s been having trouble with. He needs to study for an entire day in a bar with an actor butchering the part of a bartender in order to understand that it means his beer is cold. Poor Gary is too demented at this point to understand that this is all a ruse, that Jenny is a figment of his imagination, that he does not even own a cellphone. And that this charade is being held at every commercial break for every football game for, presumably, the entire 2011/2012 NFL season, and it can not be to sell Coors Light, because how and in what horrible parallel dimension would such a scenario sell beer?
No. This is all done for the amusement of the actor. He builds this bar in a sound stage and plays the part of a bartender for his own pleasure. To watch Gary sweat. To watch his terrible decaying mind try and parse out even the simplest questions like: “Read this thing I am pointing at.”
"And this bar-?" the actor asks. Now he’s just playing with him. But this is how it goes. This is how it must be. Forever and ever must these two play this game. One man dominates and the other man bows under the pressure of his superior strength and intelligence.
"That the beer is SUPER COLD?" Dance little monkey…
"Congrats" says the actor with a Christian Slater-ey smoothness, slightly arousing poor mentally handicapped Gary whose fist-sized brain tumor is growing bored of this game, planning it’s great escape when it can slide across the bar and hold the actor by the collar and say PLEASE MAKE IT STOP! But all he says is, in his low sensual growl, "You just passed the bar exam" and the actor slides the beer across the bar and Gary yelps a yelp of glee that contains within it a million secret sorrows and questions about what it means to really be a man in a world in a bar and then he takes the bottle of Coors Light, which is another thing no person actually does.
He also pumps his fist.
And a Coors Light is removed from its refrigeration chamber and driven deep into a pit of ice that one suspects must only exist in the ice-fishing holes Inuits use to catch their sustenance in the arctic as we see the process of a Coors Light going from “Cold” to “Super Cold” - we watch this process and it dawns on us - the audience - that these people are actually using this as a strategy to SELL US BEER!!! When did promoting something as cold become a means of selling your beer?? And havn’t we developed the technology to test coldness hundreds of millions of years ago and it’s called “TOUCH IT YOU IDIOT?”??? The coldness of the beer has much more to do with the way my grocery store keeps them and the way in which I store them in my home or at the local bar but this is all simply academic because NOBODY DRINKS THIS BEER.
Nobody, of course, but poor Gary, with his tumor growing with each ritualistic reenactment of this soul-sucking scenario. Over and over again good sweet kind Gary who never meant to hurt that baby but he doesn’t know his own hulking strength is fooled into jubilation and rewarded with cold-piss in a bottle and yelps his sad enthusiastic yelp like a man being tortured who is too deeply stupid to even know that he is being tortured.
And at the end of the spot when he approaches two attractive girls with an impossible confused look on his face like he’s forgotten about dead molested invented Judy and his imagined affair with her and we as an audience are expected to either know this or be OK with this developmentally retarded young man seeking sex with sports bar harlots. We are supposed to be rooting for this character. This sad man. What kind of a world and what kind of a beer and what kind of a godless universe could we possibly be co-existing in with Gary and Judy and Donald and the Creative Directors at Draft FCB Chicago?
And when they ask: “So, you’re a lawyer?” Because they’ve heard him discussing the bar exam using their super-human hearing, it does not dawn on Gary that these women are evil robot clone slaves who are here to liberate him and take him to a world where beer is advertised because it’s fucking BEER and not because it shares properties with Pluto; a world where they will perform brain surgery on him and remove his tumor and free him from this terrible play where the actors can’t act, the beer tastes like shit and the jokes are not funny; where the jokes cannot even be called jokes, in the way that stories of the old testament cannot be called stories but now in light of intelligent civilization must be called “allegories”. It is the only way THE ONLY WAY this advertisement can be said to be an advertisement or to even exist. Whose decision was it to advertise beer this way? What happened to the Silver Bullet? Nothing makes a man ready to crack open a cold foamer than a hard night of hunting down werewolves. Do we have nowhere to turn to in this world for a mother’s love or a womb’s warmth? Is this kind of thing an infinitely repeating feature of modernity and we are all like terrified retarded Gary's answering asinine questions posed by bad actors because that is where we would rather be instead of having sex with our beautiful imaginary girlfriends? IS THERE NOWHERE, GARY???
"Huh?" he asks, at the end of the spot. "No!" And walks off, like an idiot, going to, who knows, the bathroom, perhaps. Or, perhaps, the revolving door where he is doomed to repeat this ad infinitum, as we are.
Or, perhaps, to a train speeding through the arctic, because maybe that’s where he lives. Maybe he is really that Inuit who keeps his beer in his fishing hole and takes a silver train to work every day. We can only assume because this is the thing we see next. After the bar. A train in the snow. Because only here, in this twisted version of logic-bludgeoned reality does this make sense. Because that is the fundamental thing in purchasing beer: I don’t care how it tastes, man - how is it transported???
I DEMAND THAT MY BEER BE TRANSPORTED ON THE POLAR EXPRESS OR DON’T BOTHER TO TRANSPORT IT AT ALL!!!
And, finally, a tagline: “The world’s most refreshing beer.”
An empty sentiment. “Refreshing.” A word that means essentially nothing. Describes nothing. And a world equally empty, equally without meaning.
And mercifully, the spot is over. But it is a cruel sort of mercy, because we know it will be back. At halftime.
…You know, that one.
Love & Death,