It is perhaps the oddest amalgamation of culture and consumerism… or is it of the corporate and the confused? Although it pains me to say, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, once the yardstick for which all other Holiday Season kickoff events were measured by, has morphed into a flailing disfigured monster, being dragged through the streets of Manhattan; like a mutant Turkey stuffed with its own innards overcooked and oozing out opportunity that never quite coagulated.
As I have said about Apple stabbing us in the back in an attempt to buy our affection, the Thanksgiving Day Parade is dangerously close to giving us the same icky feeling that we are being used and abused…it’s just disguised better. The balloons are floating billboards. The floats are levitating leviathans of marketing. The commercials are, the commercials…but at least they aren’t pretending to be about anything but themselves.
If any facial expression epitomized the minds’ difficulty in processing the proceedings it was that of Mario Lopez. Sitting atop a giant Turkey, he looked as if somebody drugged him to sleep 24 hours earlier, strapped him in, and then woke him up. About those floats – the whole concept mystifies me. When brands shoehorn a musical act into their platform seemingly at random, it resonates, but in a strange way; like that feeling you get when you walk into a room but forget why you went there in the first place.
For example; Chocolate (Kinder) and Big Time Rush. Baby Shark and Ziggy Marley. Blanco Brown and desert (Everyone’s Favorite Bake Shop by Entenmann’s). Pop stars randomly plucked off the heap of pop music past for…. I forget (Paula Abdul and Gloria Estefan). Waterslides (Kalahari) and Sean Paul. The Her Future is STEM float sponsored by Olay had a wonderful message overshadowed by the mystery of Betty Who. ‘Who is Betty Who?’ one article asked. All of this is further bastardized by poorly choreographed lip-synching and instruments mismatched to the sounds they don’t naturally make (blowing into a horn that produces the sound of a guitar). I’m reminded of Gonzo on the Muppet show.
Some got it right, like Louisiana tourism with Trombone Shorty!! That was some dope a** sh*t ! Smokey The Bear reminded us that 9 out of 10 forest fires are started by stupid humans, thanks to the USDA. The Marching Bands. In conclusion, Falvor Flav.
But wait – are we seriously supposed to take Jimmy Fallon seriously as a singer? The answer is either ‘NO’ and reject this claptrap or do one of two things:
- reduce our standards so as to become just as appreciative of bad karaoke as we are with rare vocal talent, or
- become resigned to a mind-numbingly mediocre status quo propped up by the same business we want to be entertained by at any cost because we’d rather be amused than free.
When the Fraggle Rock branded content cleverly disguised as a commercial came on, my astute daughter asked, “is this a commercial?”, to which I replied, “the entire thing is a commercial honey – all 3 hours”. At least the Price is Right makes it fun! Other media megaliths (Fox w/ the FIFA Float and Disney w/ the Wish Ship)..were happy to buck up to their rival (NBC) in order to get a piece of the action. Which makes you think.. is it all just one big media-media complex??
What was most troubling is that the former Star of the show Santa Claus himself, received almost no time whatsoever and instead was upstaged by what one host referred to as the “Queen of Christmas” (!?). Mariah, in all her glory, remained fixed in a red dress that seemed as if it were a solid structure which she sat inside of. My kids kept asking me why she had an umbrella. We may never know. Then, the most played Holiday song, maybe the most played song ever ….. played AGAIN.
It was all almost as hard to watch as that Rockin’ New Years’ Freak Show.