' ' Cinema Romantico: Ray of Light

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Ray of Light

Anheuser-Busch ran an advertisement during this past Sunday’s Super Bowl regathering the ostensible legends of so many Bud Light ads past. Watching it made me think about how Super Bowl commercials used to be so much better, a trite thought, truth be told, where it simply seems as if things used to better when framed through cozy nostalgia, unless you extract that sentimentality and look at it with clear eyes to discover it was more or less, give or take, all about the same. Still, as I thought about this, I was compelled to remember what I have always cited as my favorite Super Bowl commercial, a Leslie Nielsen spot for Coors Light in which he wore pink fuzzy slippers.

Because the Pandemic has broken me to the point where old advertisements instill a sense of longing, and because this is the modern age, I sought out that ad on YouTube. I found other Nielsen commercials, like this one, and I found one where Nielsen parodied the Energizer Bunny, that relentless 90s symbol of commerce, but not one where Nielsen was wearing fuzzy pink slippers. I began to suspect that my memory, as it so often is, was faulty. Had I conflated the Energizer Bunny spoof with the scene in “The Naked Gun 33 1/3” where Nielsen wears fuzzy slippers? Ah, but just when I thought I had made it all up, I found it, quite by accident.

Well, what do you think? Is that the best Super Bowl commercial of all time? Eh, I have my doubts. No one, I suspect, is putting that up against Mean Joe Greene, never mind Apple’s renowned 1984 spot, and yet. I had forgotten Nielsen’s ad came at the dawn of the 90s, citing the Silver Bullet as the one that won’t slow you down, “perfect for the fast-paced 90s.” Boy, that’s a time capsule. That is how the 90s felt, isn’t it, on the cusp of them, like you were segueing from the go-go 80s to something no doubt even swifter. Of course, you don’t need me to tell you, person reading this on your phone (!), that life has accelerated incalculably from there to a tempo that would leave 1990 Me clinging to the side of my vintage wood-paneled television set like I was on a boat in a storm. Which brings me back to Nielsen and his pink fuzzy slippers.

A couple days after the Super Bowl, the film critic Justine Peres Smith Tweeted that she was “Trying to imagine living in a world where you would physically go to and from work and when you were not physically at work, the only way they could contact you was to a call a telephone tethered to a specific place.” I virtually raised my hand. “I lived in that world,” I thought. “Once, long ago.” Say one thing mean about the wheels of technological process these days and you are branded a Luddite, of course, but while we have gained much, we have a lost a lot too. That 1984 Apple ad saw the coming benefit of smaller computers, though perhaps it did not foresee (or perhaps it did) a “world in which billions of people stare at their own screens even while walking, driving, eating, in the company of friends and family — all of them eternally elsewhere,” as Rebecca Solnit put it for Harper’s, rendering them “trackable at all times...savage privacy, break down journalism as we know it, and create elaborate justifications for never paying artists or writers.”

At first glance, the Coors Light commercial would appear to have no such vision. And yet, in its small-scale aesthetic of a guy, a chair, a curtain, a beer sign, and slippers, it does not epitomize the fast-paced 90s so much as Coors Light’s current slogan about being Made to Chill. It is almost as if Leslie Nielsen had seen the future and, contradictory to Coors Light claiming it was the beer that wouldn’t slow you down, was telling us to take it easy, for God’s sake, while we still had time.

I changed my mind. This remains the singular Super Bowl commercial.

No comments: