Thursday, November 20, 2008

Use AT&T — or the reporter gets it.

We've all seen the AT&T "I'm so-and-so's phone" commercials where the person talking is a clone of the person being described as a dumbass for not having AT&T cell phone service, thus having "zero bars out here." The moral of each commercial's story has been that if you don't have AT&T, you'll miss important calls that will create inconveniences ranging from slightly embarrassing to hugely damaging (e.g. a possible prison sentence for breaking and entering, a lost international business deal).

But WB just caught a new entry in this saga, and the message has changed to something more sinister:  Use AT&T Cellular Service, Or You Will Die.

There's great analysis of many of the AT&T ads over at The Reaction blog, but it stops short of covering this one. So we'll just add that, while the commercials so far have helped to reinforce racial, cultural, and gender stereotypes, as The Reaction points out, this one reworks the pre-Obama-era truism of action and horror films: The Black Guy Dies First. Now, that rule needs reworking because the Black guy is the boss.

So let's see... who can we kill off for humorous effect instead?

The Latino!

Yep, "Slate Sanchez" is disposable because he's brown. And brown people, as movies and TV continue to tell us, are a dime a dozen, and usually troublesome. And this brown person's disposal will get laughs, not outrage, because not only is he brown, but he's a brown news reporter — a profession that, after decades of profession stereotyping, we all know is inhabited by preening egomaniacs as shallow as a kid's wading pool. All that matters is their hair. One less of 'em? Good riddance.

How easily the cultural semiotics work as shorthand.

So long, Mr. Sanchez; we hardly knew ye.

Not that it matters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And not only people for the most part aren't even mildly disturbed by this commercial, some are even amused by it.

Contrast this to the commercial where a lack of AT&T results in one of those ubiquitous Frozen Turkey Deep Fry Fires that left the entire picnic area a charred wreckage... yet none of the people involved (at Ground Zero no less) suffered anything more than soot and frizzy hair, much less get killed.

How long before they push the boundaries of taste with an ad where a kid blames lack of AT&T for being abducted by a known child molester?