Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why do American celebrities think they're too good for product endorsements?

Song Kang Ho, respected actor and top box office draw,
appearing in a bank commercial
In Korea, it's very common to see top stars on TV, endorsing everything from smartphones to refrigerators to laptops. In America, top stars would never deign to do something as low as endorsing products, at least in America. That's the kind of stuff they secretly do abroad. 

What the hell?

I always thought it was quite laughable that someone like, say, Shia Labeouf would ever think that he was above endorsements. Dude, you're not Laurence Olivier or something, okay? You're not a principled artiste struggling to redefine your craft against a capitalist petty bourgeoisie that seeks to neuter your fiery talent. At best, you're a somewhat talented movie actor who functions largely as an inoffensive audience surrogate for factory-line films such as the Transformers movies. Honestly, what's the difference between hawking Transformers 3 and hawking Burger King? They're both processed junk that'll shorten your lifespan if consumed too much.

There's an exception to this rule, though: American athletes, the other big group of celebrities. Top athletes covet corporate endorsements and show them off with pride. There may be some cognitive dissonance required in seeing a superhuman specimen like LeBron James wolf down McDonald's fries, but whatever. Peyton Manning endorsed Oreos, for god's sake. I don't believe for a second that that man has ever eaten an Oreo in the past 20 years, unless he believed it was a magic Oreo that would've allowed him to absorb Johnny Unitas' brain.

Shin Min Ah and Won Bin, two of Korea's biggest
stars, in an ad for instant coffee in a bottle
But if you're an American celebrity who's not an athlete, shilling is a no-no. I guess they have their artistic integrity to protect, or something.

Guess what though? The vast majority of celebrities are little more than corporate spokespeople anyway. They're out there shilling rehashed, uninspired, and downright offensive movies that were conceived in a corporate boardroom in an attempt to maximize profits from the only demographic that Hollywood apparently thinks exists in America: white guys who like da hot chickz.

Jung Woo Sung and Kim Tae Hee... Somehow, I
can't see Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts trying to
convince me of the merits of Maytag
They're out there, flashing their medically-perfected smiles and boot camp bodies to fool us into consuming consistently shoddy products. Of course, there are the acceptable product endorsements though, namely those in fashion. That, and Apple stuff. Same thing though.

Maybe I shouldn't care too much about this, but it's the pretentiousness that gets me. Plus, if Hollywood is made up of artists who would never do something as low as product endorsements, then where the hell is the art? Why do we only get circle-jerk comic book movies and maddeningly ditzy romantic comedies and white savior historic epics and modern-day blaxploitation garbage?

I also don't like the insinuation that there are different standards for international markets and for the American markets. So George Clooney the coffee pitchman is good enough for the Japanese, but not good enough for the United States? I don't see why George Clooney shouldn't feel free to star in a Folgers ad in the US, especially if that means he doesn't have to sign on to a stinker of a movie just for the money.

I'd buy a used coffin from this man
There's an episode in Entourage (yes, I watched that show... for shame) in which Vincent Chase gets a ton of money to do an ad in China. It gets him and his gang of imbeciles out of financial trouble, but of course, he could never do that in America because he's Vincent Chase the Great American Thespian (enormous suspension of disbelief required as he is played by Adrian Grenier). After all, he is Queens Boulevard!!!!!

Also, did anyone find it incredibly jarring that the show never seemed to make up its mind about Vince's ethnicity? One minute, he's playing Pablo Escobar, and the other, he's being considered for the lead in a Edith Wharton movie and getting the lead as Jay Gatsby. Those things are kinda mutually exclusive (unless you have a great make-up team and a PR staff with the stomach for a racial firestorm).

Oops, there I go again, betraying my embarrassingly in-depth knowledge of that show...

Anyway, rant over. My point? American celebrities, y'all are sellouts anyway. We won't hold it against you for doing a Mr. Clean ad. In fact, that'd be kind of awesome.

No comments :

Post a Comment