Tuesday, March 26, 2013

stevo running diary: the greatest non-political commercial ever ...

"We've been together since way back when.
And sometimes?  I never want to see you again!
But I want you to know,
That after all these years?
You're still the one, I want whispering in my ear!

You're still the one, I wanna talk to in bed!
Still the one, that turns my head!
We're still having fun, and you're still the one!"

-- "Still the One" by Orleans.

---------------------------------------------------------

"A thirty-something woman and businessman happen upon the same cab during rush hour.  During the ride, she notices he's with Fidelity.  He then answers a question that's been nagging her for years."

That, peoples and peepettes, is the description for the video, of my favorite non-political commercial of all time.  The Fidelity "Taxi" ad from the early 2000s that, quite frankly, is a first ballot Hall of Fame advertisement.  How this thing won no awards, I have no idea.  I don't use the phrase often, but dammit, this ad not winning the Ad of the Year, Decade, and Century?  (tony bruno voice) That's an outrage!

It's one minute of pure, comedic gold.  It has everything.  Laugh out loud funny?  Yes.  Straight up racism?  Oh yeah.  Unflinching, unapologetic sexism?  (sarah palin voice) You betcha!  Directly teaches -- not implies; teaches! -- that black women have no intelligence, and that they need a rich white dude to handle their money for them, because they're too stupid to figure it out themselves?  Of course!

Because this ad is so incredibly offensive to anyone with an ounce of intelligence ... I love it.  It's given rise to catch phrases with some of my close friends.  Anytime -- and I mean anytime -- there's a lull in the conversation, all the Voice of Reason has to do is drop "it's called a rollover", and we'll both bust up laughing, sometimes crying from laughing so hard.  Anytime someone suggests an idea we all agree with, someone will bust out the "why not?", and bring the room down.

This ad is so amazing, so incredible ... that it is NOT available on Youtube!  I know -- I went searching for it today.  I literally spent five hours trying to find this thing ... and well, good things come to those who wait.

Here then, for today's post, is a running diary of THE greatest non-political ad, in television history.

Ladies and gentlemen, peoples and peepettes, I give you* ...



The Fidelity Investments "Taxi" commercial!

(*: I am not sure if you have to register with TVSpots.tv to view this video or not.  If you do, they offer a sixty day trial membership, no credit card required.  Or you can contact me, and I'll send you my login info, to view the ad.  Trust me -- you WANT to watch this video.)

* 0:01: we meet the first of our two stars, a "30 something" black businesswoman, standing on a busy Manhattan street as rush hour begins.  She is nicely dressed, attractive, and even carrying what appears to be a Wall Street Journal in her hand, held above her head (presumably to get a cab driver's attention).

* 0:06: she is 0 for 3 at this point, in flagging a cab.  Racist cabbies, refusing to stop for a clearly distressed black woman in need of a cab.  This?  Depending on your sense of humor, is either the least racist moment in this ad ... or the least racist moment in this ad.

* 0:07: and our fourth racist snub in this commercial, and we're not even seven seconds in -- an obviously successful white businessman, clearly her senior, swoops in and attempts to steal the cab she had flagged down.  (judge judy voice) That is outrageous behavior sir*!  Outrageous behavior!

(*: I dare you to not laugh out loud, at the clip I just linked.  Come on folks, lighten up.  A 300 lb chick breaking a toilet!  How can you NOT laugh at that?)

* 0:08: she lays down the law!  "Excuse me sir, excuse me -- THAT'S MY CAB!"  If she'd thrown "beyatch" in to close the phrase, I'd be laughing even more than I already am.

* 0:10: caught with his hand in the cookie jar, the white businessman hems and haws, "look it, I'm sorry, uuh ..." but -- but! -- he never stops trying to steal the cab!  He's like that person at Oak Park come December 24th, when you've been waiting for 35 minutes for a parking spot, one finally opens up, and he comes in and steals it from you.  The fact that it's a white business dude screwing over a black lady, just adds to the comedy.  (And is indisputably racist moment #5 ... and we're only 10 seconds in.)

* 0:11: nuh-huh!  Girl, you did not just do that.

* 0:12: "Are you going downtown?  Because I'm going downtown.  Come on, let's share the cab!"  The porn connotations in that stretch of dialogue are just off the freaking charts.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He made a porn reference!  A three letter word: porn!

Seriously though, let's just think this through logically.  The guy has just tried to steal this gal's taxi, so clearly, he has no morals to speak of.  She has never met this guy before, doesn't know him from Adam, and now, she's offering to share a cab with him?  This has a "very special episode of Law and Order: SVU" written all over it!

* 0:14: the first of the two unforgettable catch phrases.  "Why not?"  Exactly!  Why not?  Whitey's getting what he wants, at black chick's expense to boot!  He's saving a solid $50, by getting what he wants!  (I haven't been to New York since my grandma died, but it looks like they're clearly in midtown, and if they're headed "downtown" (aka the financial district), they're gonna be shelling out a decent amount of cash.

Mr. Vice President, would you like to weigh in at the quarter pole mark of this ad?  (joe biden voice) Folks! Where was Reverend Sharpton when this ad came out?  Where was Reverend Jackson?  Where were the race baiters?  A three letter word: race!

Thank you, Mr. Vice President*.

And now, back to the running diary.

(*: sorry folks, but until I get tired of mocking the Vice President's stupidity, it's getting run into the ground, again, and again, and again.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He likes to mock me!  A three letter word: mock!)

* 0:17: this clearly, is not going to be a friendly cab ride.  You see them each getting in on a separate side of the cab, in a split screen.  Why, you ask, do I notice this?  Because whitey entered next to the curb, which means ... he sent black chick out into oncoming traffic, at the height of rush hour, in order to get in!  This means one of three things: (a) he cares nothing for his (now) co-rider's safety, (b) he's a pompous ass, or (c) oh yeah -- he was trying to steal the cab!  Again!  That's ... awesome!

* 0:20: the lovely five seconds of filler time, probably mandated by NYC filming laws.  Because when I think Midtown, I think "cab actually moving at something close to the speed limit, lusciously accented in the various store windows near Columbus Square".  Jesus, I'm sorry -- this five second stretch is just so absolutely wrong, on so many levels.  Accuracy, Fidelity!  We need accuracy!  The next time you see a cab leisurely strolling through Midtown at 6pm on a random weeknight, will be the first!

* 0:21: ooh, the plot thickens!  Rich white investment dude pulls out what appears to be a portfolio statement.  And why not -- the image Fidelity wants to portray is that their representatives are smart, intelligent, always looking for an edge for your money.

Meanwhile, black chick?  Is just sitting there!  Not even reading that prop Wall Street Journal they gave her to hold twenty seconds ago!  Seriously, Lewis Diuguid?  Sir, I may not always agree with you, but you're always an entertaining read.  How in the bluest of blue hells did you miss ripping this ad's overt, blatant racism back in the day?  My God Lew!  You can find racism in the color of cheese someone puts on their burger!  We're at six subvertive racist moments and counting, and we're barely a third of the way through this thing!

* 0:23: once again, whitey is shown hard at work, writing down stuff on his portfolio pages.  Black chick is shown staring straight ahead, her brain clearly as blank as the ad board on top of the cab.  Yet another factual inconsistency: anyone who's ever taken a cab in New York, knows cabs are traveling billboards!  Come on, Fidelity!  This is borderline criminal negligence in the fact-check department!  Ezra Klein would have destroyed you come second :16 of this commercial for the factual inaccuracies!

* 0:25: black chick looks over at what whitey is doing ... and looks utterly baffled at what she's looking at!  Yet another great "blacks and women are too stupid to keep up with rich white dude" moment!  And we haven't even hit the money shot moment yet!

* 0:28: notice the eyes.  (Blatant racist moment #8.)  We'll get to this in a second ...

* 0:29: "You're with Fidelity?"  I mean, are you kidding me?  The damned camera just spent the last FIVE SECONDS focused on the Fidelity letterhead!  She's just spent the last FIVE SECONDS staring at said letterhead!  And yet, a second earlier, she is portrayed as confused, baffled clueless ... and then has to ask the obvious!  I'm telling you, this ad is comedic gold.  Rush Limbaugh has a running gag in that no matter what the news is, the New York Times will always have the sub-headline of "minorities and women hardest hit".  Fidelity is just HAMMERING minorities and women in this ad!  They're portraying a clueless dolt of a black chick, who can't put two and two together to equal four!  (Just wait -- we STILL haven't hit the worst moment.  Or best, if you have a sense of humor.)

* 0:30: "that's right."  The smirk.  The smirk on rich white investment guy as he replies to her, it's a total "beyatch" moment.  How has noone at Grantland submitted this commercial for Rembert Browne to dissect?  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Well I know it's not from the 1980s, but good God, look at the piss poor quality of the video!  It could pass for a God awful season eight episode of "Benson"!

Also ...

* 0:31: the black chick is back to staring blankly ahead, as if she has no clue who or what Fidelity is.  Just wait, this is about to become ... hang on, I have to do this right.

(the great Mr. Hugh M. Hefner voice) ladies?  This is going to be something ... REALLY special!"

* 0:33: "let me ask you something".  Hey, she can talk!  Intelligently!  And politely!  Notice guys and gals -- this is the FIRST LINE OF THE COMMERCIAL she's uttered that wasn't "you stole my cab", or in some way portraying her as a clueless dolt of a broad.  And we're 33 seconds in!  Don't tell me this isn't sexism at its' finest!

Oh, the question?  Glad you asked.

* 0:34-0:36: "I still have a 401k from a job that I had three jobs ago".

Whitey, condescendingly nodding his head.  Black chick ... hang on, let her finish.

* 0:37: "Can I move that?"

Oh dear Jesus, where to begin.

First, they portray the black chick (who clearly is not all that old) as being flaky, irresponsible, incapable of holding down steady employment.  They basically portray her as your (sadly) typical typecast ignorant African American not worth the time of day as an employee.  And then, as if that wasn't offensive enough, now they portray her as being ABSOLUTELY CLUELESS when it comes to how to handle her money!  We're up to eight legitimate racist / sexist / reprehensible remarks or moments so far ... and not only are there still twenty four seconds left to go ... the worst has yet to occur!

* 0:39: "Most of the time?  Sure."  And then, the money shot:

* 0:40: "It's called a rollover."  I'm sorry, but that line never fails to slay me, or bring the house down with my good friends.  This ad, I'm telling you, is pure genius, if you dig into it.  Who in the hell hasn't heard of a rollover?  No, really -- what "professional businessperson" in this country from the last 25 years doesn't know what a "rollover" is?  How (blanking) stupid is this chick?  And again -- the arrogance, the cockiness, of the rich white dude, just rubbing the ignorant Mamie's* face in it.  If you have a sense of humor, you can't help but laugh.  If you don't?  Uuh, remind me again how the hell Fidelity didn't face a non-stop protest from the Rainbow / PUSH Coalition and the National Action Network when this ad began airing?

(*: for those of you with no sense of movie history, Mamie was Scarlett O'Hara's personal slave in "Gone With the Wind".  And it is, without question -- (allard baird voice) without question! -- one of the most anti-African American movie roles, in history.)

* 0:42: "Really?"  Again -- what professional businessperson DOESN'T know about a rollover?!?!?!  That's at least ten -- TEN! -- racist / bigoted / biased / sexist blasts against this poor girl, and she STILL doesn't know what hit her!  I trust her agent was fired over this.

* 0:44-0:46: "I do all the paperwork, and then you just sign, and roll over into an IRA".  Oh wait -- it gets worse.

* 0:47-0:48: "You can buy stock, or mutual funds, whatever you're comfortable with."  This is so freaking rich.  Whitey saving the day!  Whitey assuming black chick is so stupid, is so mentally challenged, that she not only can't fill out a simple piece of paper ("I do all the paperwork"), he has to inform her that she has to sign the paperwork he's going to do for her!  I mean, Jesus Christ, seriously: how -- how! -- did this ad NOT get protested across the country?  How in the hell did this ad ever get through practices and standards?  I'm a 36 year old white guy who's not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, and even I know that you have to sign a financial transaction document!

And another thing -- you realize this black chick, WHO JUST MET THIS GUY FORTY SECONDS AGO AS HE WAS TRYING TO STEAL HER CAB, is now so gullible, so trusting, so ignorant, that she's gonna trust a dude whose moral foundation says stealing a cab from a black chick is acceptable, with her retirement funds?

And another thing -- three jobs ago?  A 401k from THREE JOBS AGO?  What kind of responsible business professional lets a 401k just sit there?  It's your money!  You don't just walk away from money you've earned!  NOBODY does that!  There is not one person in America who walks away from money they worked for!

And yet, we STILL haven't hit the most offensive moment!

* 0:50: "Will I be in control of it?"

And ... BOOM! goes the dynamite!

This alleged professional businesswoman -- and if she's headed to the financial district, she must know SOMETHING about money -- doesn't know if she has control over her investments!  And even if that's somewhat understandable (because, in the interest of fairness, it is) ... once again: SHE JUST MET THIS GUY FORTY SECONDS AGO AS HE WAS TRYING TO STEAL HER CAB!  She's going to take the word of a cab thief?  She's going to trust a guy who'd steal a cab from her, who sent her into oncoming traffic, with her 401k "from three jobs ago"?

So to sum up where we're at, and there's still eleven second to go guys:

Black chick: ignorant, stupid, financially irresponsible, not even remotely intelligent, gullible, easily taken advantage of.  Basically, an untrained animal.

White dude: her savior, can do no wrong, the smartest guy in the room, her only hope of financial independence.  The circus owner.

AND THERE'S STILL TEN SECONDS LEFT TO GO!

0:51: "Sure".  Well of course Whitey's gonna say sure -- she's just decided to hand over her money, once again, TO A GUY WHO SHE JUST MET FORTY SECONDS AGO AS HE WAS STEALING HER CAB!  God above.

0:53: "That's great.  My life down to a single sheet of paper."  Uum, may I ask the obvious?  No, really -- may I ask the obvious?  What kind of person, in ANY walk of life, thinks that their life can be completely contained ON ONE PIECE OF PAPER?

0:55: the dueling smiles.  His?  Cocky, arrogant, prickish, a "yeah, I own you b*tch!" smugness to it.  Her?  "I just totally signed over the first five years of my retirement to a guy I just met 45 seconds ago as he was trying to steal a cab from me, but it's the best decision I've ever made in my life, because I'm too damned stupid to make a decision on my own; I need a rich white dude to help me."

Lewis Diuguid?  Reverend Sharpton?  The (rush limbaugh voice) Reverend Jackson?  In the words of Peter Griffin's lawyer Mousy McDermott: "you have GOT to be kitten me!" that you didn't raise holy hell over this ad.

0:56-0:57: he couldn't resist.  He had to look at her, and smirk, and start laughing himself silly.  In rich white dude's defense ... I'd have done the same thing.  "Dumb gullible beyatch!"

0:58-1:00: professional black businesswoman?  Once again staring blankly out the window.

What an ad!

Oh, yeah -- the obvious answer is "hell no!", to the question of "does Fidelity handle my 401k" ...

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