September 10, 2009

As Seen on Television (part one)

I keep seeing things on television that I want to blog about, and this can only mean I am in copy edits. Because after four hours of sand-scrubbing my way word by word through my MS, making POSITIVE it says what I want it to say on every line and agreeing blindly to the host of grammatical corrections that (shamefully!) I DO NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND I need the pretty television to yap nonsense at me and sooth my fevered brain.

Lar lar lar! That is the beleaguered song I warble at the happy, happy copy edits, a hymn to that humbling time of year when your MS comes back for your final perusal and a host of Christmas-cheerful red and green colored pencils have shown you exactly how many times your said BLOND for BLONDE and vice-versa, and exactly how many THOUSANDS of commas you threw into sentences that were tootling along JUST GRAMMATICALLY FINE without them, thanks. Humbling, humbling humbling.

I have a master’s degree in English. I used to TEACH AMERICA’S YOUTH. And yet in this MS, and in every other MS before it, I don’t seem to have EVER once cracked the Chicago Manual of Style. It is a dusty, virgin priestess keeping vigil on a back corner of my bookshelf, upholding the worship of Grammar all alone. Grammar is an exacting god that I apparently have never heard of. Or wait, is he the one who said something about not ending a sentence with a preoposition? *cough*

EVERY MS I have multiple, repeated, egregious tropes of Grammar BACKSEAT SAINTS I almost never capitolize the c in Coke (you can get 5 years in the state pen for that here in Georgia...) and I randomly Capitolize Other Words That Should Be lOWER cASE. And, worst of ALL, I am apparently the LIVING CAPITAL CITY of the state of borking up homonyms.

That said, I LOVE my copy editor, because thanks to her, no one will never KNOW all the humiliating things I just told you with my big fat flapping yap hole.

Oh. Oops. Well, anyway, thanks to her, my careless, endless errors won’t distract people who read the actual book.

I was just going to say I was in copy edits and then tell about all the things I SAW ON TELEVISION and have big opinions about, but instead I went off on my Secret Shame.
Oh well, I guess I will tell you about one thing I saw on Television, and then file the rest in the pink sock drawer for tomorrow.


Doubleyou. Tee. Aitch. was Toyota thinking? Here it is for those who have yet to have their eyelids peel back from their face in flapping horror.

I cannot express to you the level of loathing I feel for this commercial. It SEEMS charming and welcoming, right? At first? Hell often does in great literature, so why not in a Prius commercial. There is a cheerful warble-y song about letting your love flow, and a lone Prius drives FREELY through a cartoon landscape, lar lar lar, it all seems SOOOOO innocuous, until you REALIZE all the HILLS and FLOWERS and even the EXTREMELY creepy clouds are made out of PACKED ROWS AND ROWS of helplessly trapped, planted, jammed in and embedded PEOPLE. They are ROOTED and STUCK in close, unfolding at the bidding of the passing car, endlessly unfolding and wavingwavingwaving in desperate forced cheer...GAHHHHHH.

The CLOUDS are the worst because they are not upright. The worst sinners go to CLOUDS and get MASHED with other evil-doers into a WAD. Some of them are trapped UPSIDE DOWN, and look how BIG the clouds are. Very big and puffy, so that you KNOW there are people in there FULLY AND FOREVER SUBMERGED. Gah. Those clouds look like puffy, whiteed-out, cartoon versions of Bruegel’s vision of Dull Gret going to war with Hell:


Some of the little flower people are CHILDREN, did you notice? SAD, naughty children who now SO regret they threw stones at that skinny stray dog and cheated on their spelling test. Speaking of children, do you know what else it reminds me of? Ursula’s garden in Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid. All those helpless merfolks turned into water weeds and rooted in her gate, trembling as she passes...GAHHHHhhhhh

Every time this commercial comes on Scott and I go very, very still and reach instinctively for each other’s hands. We sit, big-eyed and trembling, until it is over. Then we SWEAR to each other that we will be GOOD people, better people, KINDER AND MORE WORTHY people, so that we never have to die and go to Prius-land.

It’s a shame, really, because by all accounts the Prius is a GREAT car. Super environmentally friendly and yet affordable, and Edmund’s gives it high marks. My friend Jill has one and says it is really FUN to drive, too. If you are in the market for a mid-size sedan, I ‘spose it would be a good choice, if you can get past that whole “I am the rough Beast who slouches toward Bethlehem” thing. *shudder*

Posted by joshilyn at September 10, 2009 8:02 AM

Is it sad and pathetic that although I edit press releases these days, I want to break into the publishing business just to fix people's commas and capitalization issues? It is such a thrill!

Actually, I don't think that was too sad and pathetic until that last bit about it being a thrill...

I can't wait for Backseat Saints! I'll add it to the growing "Joshilyn Jackson" row on the bookcase.

Posted by: Cathy at September 10, 2009 8:47 AM

That commercial came on while we were having Quality Couch Potato Time last night and I said to my beloved, "It's not just me... this is a REALLY CREEPY COMMERCIAL, right?" He concurred. Glad to see we're all in agreement.

Posted by: Mir at September 10, 2009 8:54 AM

I am SO going to Prius land, 'cause I missed a meeting this morning (totally OFFICIALLY miss it, because I forgot about it completely, so in my world the meeting did not exist), and while my "supervisor" was explaining to me all that I had missed (and could not see my computer screen), I looked like I was busily checking e-mails before the start of the school day when, in fact, I was reading your blog rather than listening about the things I missed in the meeting I also missed.

So. Going. To Prius Land. At least I had a good laugh beforehand.

Posted by: Roxanne at September 10, 2009 9:02 AM

As I watched that commercial, all I could think was:

Soylent Green is PEOPLE!

Then I had to watch it again and get really creeped out by the people clouds.

Cirque du Soleil it ain't.

Posted by: Tuli at September 10, 2009 9:16 AM

As I'm reading your description of the commercial I'm thinking, "Princess hearts! Maybe this is related to the source of the princess hearts!" Which, you know, makes it all the more creepy.

Posted by: JenniferG at September 10, 2009 9:31 AM

This commercial aired several times during Top Chef last night (go Jennifer!), and my husband was wondering why the people were jumping off the bridges and whatnot? Very creepy.

Posted by: RuthWells at September 10, 2009 9:34 AM

*sotto voce* Someone sounds a little sleep deprived...

*ahem* Fear not, Joss, those are acutally not people, they are munchkins imported from Over the Rainbow. They are forced to work in the commercial because they have no visas.

Posted by: JulieB at September 10, 2009 10:15 AM

SO creepy! I thought of Ursula's garden, too, the first time I saw it. It's like if Munchkinland suffered from overpopulation. It's... bleah. Me no likey.

Posted by: Aimee at September 10, 2009 10:39 AM

Thank you! A good friend of mine and I got into a tiff about that very commercial. He maintains that it's a great concept and the execution is flawless and I just harrumph in his face because while there are LOTS of things that are great concepts (an actual Prius, puppies, beer) they don't give me the screaming heebies like that darn commercial. And why is the car towing the sun, anyway? Does Toyota now claim to make the world go 'round? Harrumph.

Posted by: ellbee at September 10, 2009 11:16 AM

Oh, totally score for linking the commercial to Flemmish medieval allegory paintings. We hadn't talked about that, but you're SO on the money. I was thinking Bosch, but that particular Bruegel is even better.

Double extra creepy.

Posted by: Mr. Husband at September 10, 2009 11:39 AM

Now see, I really liked it, because it reminded me of the choreographed dance routines in old movies where they'd shoot it from above so you could see the fun patterns they were making. I was, however, disappointed to realize that it was probably all computer generated, which takes all the fun out of it.

Posted by: Rosten at September 10, 2009 11:44 AM

Gads, I am SO glad I am not alone in hating those commercials. My husband just doesn't get why they completely and utterly CREEP ME OUT.
I think I need shower.

Posted by: Tequila Cookie Chris at September 10, 2009 11:51 AM

Ahh, but I saw another one last night that was even creepier (to me). It shows the trees growing so that's all the green people (supposedly leaves) climbing up all the brown people (the trunk?) Even my 12 yo commented on how creepy that was!

Posted by: JTs Maman at September 10, 2009 12:06 PM

Not seeing it. The people are all laid out, pitiful and passively polluting, BEFORE the Prius passes - they are freed and jumping around happily in harmony with nature and each other afterwards.

On first glance, I thought that the costumed people were supposed to represent the spirits of the flowers, but perhaps not.

Anyway, I'd never seen it before, and perhaps it loses its impact seen in a 4" YouTube.

Posted by: Diane (TT) at September 10, 2009 1:11 PM

I have that exact same reaction to this commercial and have gotten into several conversations with a friend about it -- she thinks it's fascinating and cool and charming and it gives me the creeps. Then again, I was always terrified of the Munchkin scenes in the Wizard of Oz and this reminds me of that, too.

Posted by: Diane at September 10, 2009 1:32 PM

I live overseas so I don't get these commercials. I was a prius commercial virgin and wow. Super CREEPY.

Posted by: Nikki at September 10, 2009 3:17 PM

Reminds me of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies.

Posted by: Marleigh at September 10, 2009 3:43 PM

So funny because I have always liked that commercial and didn't even see it the way you do until you said that...I'm going to have to watch it closer next time. LOLOLOL

Posted by: Jill at September 10, 2009 5:23 PM

I like it AND dislike it! I think, on the surface, it looks rather cool, the surprise of people coordinated and dancing, but then I think about the Star Trek episode when Capt. Kirk gets transported to a replica Enterprise with a beautiful woman, and keeps seeing hoards of people outside instead of SPACE... so anyway, it's also a nightmare!

Posted by: fp at September 10, 2009 9:22 PM

funny you should mention this commercial...
my husband says all those people are left over from the chinese olympics.hehehe, not very PC, but funny none the less or nonetheless or whatever

Posted by: desi at September 10, 2009 9:42 PM

Maybe it is me, I like the Prius commercials, but I cringe and swear I will write a scathingly appalled letter to Castrol every time I see (or even begin to see) that dip stick swinging sadist striking someone with his dip stick. The thought of it makes me cringe. Please give me happy people.

Posted by: Cele at September 11, 2009 1:10 AM

I fully own how incredibly nerdtastical this sentence is:

When i saw it (which, i think of it as "the Smugly Drive Your Eco-Car Through the Valley of the Damned commercial"), i thought Hieronymus Bosch first, but i think the Breugel is an even better comparison.

Posted by: Rachel at September 11, 2009 7:36 AM

Glad to see I'm not alone in those ads (both in TV and magazines) making me think of "Soylent Green" and the overpopulated-planet-Star-Trek-episode. I already feel like the world is too much in my personal space, and like there will soon be nothing furry, feathered or green left. Horrid ads!

Posted by: Brigitte at September 11, 2009 8:59 AM

Am I the only one who hates the blasted MUSIC in those commercials? We have all this technology, and instead of using a drum, or SIMULATING a drum, to keep the beat, we MUST HAVE the sound (real or simulated) of someone clocking their TONGUE??? If it's real, then, um, EW!! If it is simulated, then I have to ask, WHY, of all the sounds you could simulate (a heartbeat, for example) WHY OH WHY A TONGUE???? (Okay, I'm neurotic. I don't have any problem listening to the African clicking language. But this? no no no no no)

So I can't watch OR listen. Ew.


P.S. The sound of people snapping their chewing gum also makes me shudder, and triggers the urge to STRANGLE THEM BY THEIR NECKS!!! GRAB THEIR NECKS AND...('scuse me, the nurse says I must go have an injection now.)

Posted by: JMixx at September 11, 2009 11:10 AM

ACK! Nightmares of munchkins and grabby creepy clouds. They'll probably all have IT clown faces too!

Posted by: susanvl at September 11, 2009 12:26 PM

I am the "Queen of the Unnecessary Comma." I use commas as breathing points. If I was telling you my sentence, that is where I would take a breath. Not. Grammatically. Correct, (big breath) but it works for me. I used to care and use the AP Stylebook and everything; I no longer do. (I'm fond of the semicolon, too).

As for the commercial, my kids love it. They scream, "Look mom it's kids!" and then rewind it on the Tivo. Maybe I should tell them those kids are stuck in Prius Land forevermore because they won't get ready in the morning or do their homework at night like good little boys and girls. On second thought that may cause bad dreams and interrupt my sleep.

Posted by: Lori B. at September 11, 2009 12:31 PM

A) I JUST made a similar comment about a Prius commercial to my husband, less than half an hour ago, only not nearly as eloquently as you; and 2) as a freelance copy editor myself, I'm so entertained by hearing about the author side of the editing process. I try to be as gentle as possible, but sometimes we've got to be bossy about putting those commas in their places! (But if it's any consolation, my CMS is a constant companion (along with; even after 13 years of editing, there are things that I have to look up every. single. time.)

Posted by: Jennifer Morgan at September 11, 2009 3:15 PM

The first time I saw this commercial I wanted to lock the doors and windows. I wonder if the people that came up with the concept realized that it would creep out so many people. The worst part is that I really don't know why it creeps me out so much. It's like biting a rotten tomato. You think everything is okay, and then there is that awful taste that you can’t get out of your mouth.

Posted by: Sherry at September 11, 2009 5:34 PM

Okay, now that I am home from work, I can actually watch the commercial that you posted, and I am embarrassed to see that it is a DIFFERENT people-trapped-in-hell-and-forced-to-dance-to-a-car-passing-by commercial than the one with the (real or simulated) tongue-clocking.

But you knew the one I was referring to, right? We've all seen that creepy one too, right? It isn't just me, is it...? Tell me it isn't... *twitch*


Posted by: JMixx at September 11, 2009 7:20 PM

I am SO happy to find that I am not the only one deeply disturbed by those Prius scary commercials. They totally freak me out! Who ever came up with this idiot campaign?! **shudder**

Posted by: Nicole in WI at September 12, 2009 12:33 AM