Americans despair for our culture. We’re a little late.
Tuesday night on YouTube, I watched the 1973 NFC championship game, between the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys.
Still bewildered and discouraged from a Monday that began with news of a coordinated wee-hours mass robbery of stores in Chicago’s Loop and ended with a “derecho” storm that tore a lot of of our trees apart, I was seeking, as usual, the comfort and the sedation of the blandest possible television from a simpler time in America.
As usual, I mostly read a book during the ballgame, but looked up during the commercials.
During the course of the game, I saw:
Johnny Cash, speaking on behalf of Amoco Oil, and telling us to heat our homes and offices less. “If everybody dials down six degrees at home and slows down on the highways, it’ll conserve enough fuel to preserve enough energy for more than a million American jobs.”
“There’s a shortage of energy,” adds The Man in Black, “but not of the American spirit.”
“The spirit of conservation,” Johnny adds, “for the sake of America.”
(From wikipedia: “As his career was taking off in the late 1950s, Cash started drinking heavily and became addicted to amphetamines and barbiturates … In June 1965, Cash’s camper caught fire during a fishing trip with his nephew Damon Fielder in Los Padres National Forest in California, triggering a forest fire that burned several hundred acres and nearly caused his death. Cash claimed that the fire was caused by sparks from a defective exhaust system on his camper, but Fielder thinks that Cash started a fire to stay warm and in his drugged condition failed to notice the fire getting out of control. When the judge asked Cash why he did it, Cash said, ‘I didn’t do it, my truck did, and it’s dead, so you can’t question it.’ … The fire destroyed 508 acres, burned the foliage off three mountains and drove off 49 of the refuge’s 53 endangered California condors. Cash was unrepentant and claimed, ‘I don’t care about your damn yellow buzzards.’”)
TV journalist Hugh Downs teaching us lay people how to judge a new car on a test drive, going on to suggest that if we follow his guidelines, we’ll conclude that we should buy a big, fat, sloppy, rusty, gas-guzzling, just-in-time jalopy Ford Gran Torino. We always think journalists of another era were more ethical, but would Anderson Cooper be caught dead selling you a Mini Cooper?
At least a dozen different Goodyear commercials for steel-belted radial tires. Those tires must not have been as good as they said, because they were selling them like donuts.
André, pushing its champagne for the holidays—and also its “Cold Duck.” What was Cold Duck, and why? I have no time to go down that rabbit hole …
… as I need to focus on the next commercial, for STP Motor Oil, where I learn “Real People Really Know” that you should have STP in your “crank case.”
A commercial for a bad-looking, fuel-efficient four-cylinder 1974 Ford Mustang, available for $2,800. Now, if you’ve ever driven a Mustang from the mid-sixties when they were cool, you know that the only charm of that heavy, sodden-springed shitbox beside its great looks was its big V-8 engine. A four-cylinder Mustang is tits on a bull.
American Express is “a dynamite credit card.”
As far as cigars are concerned, you should chain smoke them, because, “It’s tough to put a Muriel down.”
A Schlitz commercial portrays a beery retirement party for a respected ship’s captain, and waxes eloquent about “a gusto world worth finding, and celebrating.”
And an Alka-Seltzer commercial, for the morning after.
And Johnny Cash is back, and still in black. “You expect more from Amoco, and you get it.”
This is the sort of cornball, empty, rotted-out, childish bullshit America was selling and buying 50 years ago.
And we’re just now panicking about our loss of national integrity and taste?