At what point does one outgrow pretentiousness? I’m asking for a friend.
In the early 90s, I’d just been jettisoned from my cozy little undergraduate cocoon into the harsh, cruel world, where it turned out that the only employment available to someone with a B.A. in Theatre (and plans to continue on to graduate school to learn how to WRITE) was at The GAP. Yes, y’all – I worked at The GAP. I started on the floor but was quickly “promoted” to Visual Coordinator, where – totally unseen by the customers – I held court in an unused bank of fitting rooms, armed with an ironing board, iron, clear plastic “bodyforms,” a box of T-pins, whatever clothes we needed to pimp that week, and what was left of my pride.
The GAP was enjoying a renaissance of sorts that year. It was the year of their hugely successful khaki campaign (“Steve McQueen wore khakis!” “Some writer guy wore khakis!”). It was also the year of this particularly baffling commercial:
As I said, this was the year I was readying myself for graduate school, and so I wrote feverishly (read: under the influence of various substances) in order to have plenty of material to present to Emerson College when it came time to apply to their Graduate WLP program. As such, I had filled notebooks with playlets, short stories, and “poetry” by the spring of ’93. I was prolific during this time, due to a combination of ruthless ambition, and the totally untreated mental illness that made me such a thrilling girlfriend back then.
And some of my writing was quite good, certainly good enough for Emerson to decide to take me on that autumn. And some of it was strikingly putrid dreck. But I remember seeing this commercial and thinking, “I can write better than that. Where’s MY GAP commercial?”
Fast-forward to 2012. I am still paying off that graduate degree from Emerson, and I’ve parlayed all that I learned there into this wildly successful “blogging career.” And perplexing, mediocre poetry in commercials has made a comeback:
So there are these lightbulbs going off in my head, you know? I have all my journals from ’92 – ’96 in my basement, along with my old Thespian Society trophies and those jeans that I keep thinking I’ll fit into again once I lose ten pounds. Somewhere in those journals is SOLID COMMERCIAL GOLD.
I can picture Brad Pitt continuing to shill for Chanel, looking all purposefully unkempt and morose, staring into the camera and reciting these lines:
in case you were wondering,
i played house with you
when i couldn’t sleep
it was nice in theory
and we had cool furniture
but i could never quite
telling you about
the things that keep me alive –
the words of others that
i wish could be mine,
how they fit together and
how some people make money
by getting them into a lucrative
i couldn’t tell you
because it all became static…
and i knew that yours
the most polite of interests…
Yes, ladies and gents, that up there is something I wrote in 1994. Innit TERRIBLE? Every time I read it, I fantasize about going back in time and saying to my 24-year-old self: “JESUS GOD NO – do NOT write that. NO – DO NOT – DO NOT – WRITE THAT. DON’T.” But the fact is that I DID. And I may as well try to cash in, since the ad agency behind this particular campaign seems to be in the market for Wicked Shitty Poetry Penned By Drunk, Mentally Ill 24-Year-Olds. Because if you look at it THAT way, it’s BRILLIANT. It’s tormented! It’s puerile! It has absolutely NOTHING to do with perfume!
Brad, have your people call my people. I have REAMS of this crap, for real.