Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ain't That America

I was going to comment on the ubiquitous John Mellencamp Chevy commercials that feature Rosa Parks, Hurrican Katrina, and 9/11 images to sell trucks, but Bill Simmons at ESPN.com summed it up nicely:

That reminds me, we didn't get a breakout promo for a new Fox show this month (although "Justice" feels like it's about to break into an SNL sketch at any time), but after everything's said and done, we'll remember these playoffs for four haunting words: "This is our ... country." We couldn't get away from the song all month in the Chevy ads, and about 109 days after it had become completely intolerable -- seriously, what does Katrina footage have to do with me wanting to buy a Chevy? -- they made us wait over a minute before Game 2's pregame performance, which would have been the most horrifying moment of the playoffs if not for Bob Seger's teeth on HDTV. I made a joke in a previous column about how John Mellencamp was gunning to replace Seger as the sellout rock artist of his generation, but this has taken on a life of its own.

In fact, I even spent a few minutes on his Web site recently hoping to find SOME explanation, even if it was something like, "Guys, I'm sorry, I'm going through a bad divorce, my wife took everything, it was either do these Chevy ads or declare for bankruptcy." But here was his actual take on the song, courtesy this weekend of the Detroit Free-Press, which reported that a message on his Web site said: "I wrote this song to tell a story about some of the challenges our country faces and how our beliefs and ideals can help us meet them, a message of hope and tolerance. It's a song that is all about standing up for the working people who are the backbone of our nation."

Here's how that same message reads on his Web site right now:

"About a year ago, I wrote this song to tell a story about some of the challenges our country faces and how our beliefs and ideals can help us meet them. This partnership with Chevy -- an American company that is creating jobs and supporting our communities -- makes perfect sense for a song that is all about standing up for the working people who are the backbone of our nation."

Hmmmm ... Quote No. 1 sure reads differently than Quote No. 2! But let's assume that he meant everything he said in Quote No. 2, and that he's not just shilling this song to make money and promote his new album that comes out in four months. And let's factor in his outspoken views against the war in Iraq and our own government over the past few years (explained in this open letter). What does any of this have to do with a Chevy Silverado?

He can't possibly expect us to believe the "partnership with an American company" angle, right? So was he thinking, "I'm not getting my political message across, maybe I'll do it secretly through a Chevy ad?" Does he have a master plan to use these never-ending ads to increase his visibility, then use that visibility to take more shots at the government? Or am I putting way too much thought into this subject because they won't stop showing the ads and they're beginning to drive me crazy?


And in his most recent column:

On an unrelated note, I thoroughly enjoyed this e-mail from George in Chicago: "What is your problem with the 'This is Our Country' Chevy truck ads? Whoever thought that Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War, Watergate, western wildfires, Hurricane Katrina, and 9/11 should be bunched together to sell a truck is a genius! When Chevy opens a new ad campaign for the Malibu, they should use the same song with a montage of the AIDS crisis, the Rodney King beating, Kurt Cobain's suicide, the O.J. trial, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine massacre, and the Abu Ghraib prison photos. You're telling me you wouldn't want to buy a Malibu after seeing that?"

UNRELATED SIDE NOTE: Courtney Love sold her share of the Nirvana music rights for $50 million. If you happen to take part in a Death Pool, Courtney Love with $50 million in her pocket is about as solid of a lock as there is. Add her to your list before it's too late.