Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
The smell of chicken wings and seven-layer dip fills the air. The carbonated whisper of beer cans opening in unison tickles your ears. Somewhere, Jackie Harbaugh is wondering which of her sons she will love more at the end of the night. It is Super Bowl Sunday, and the game is about to begin.
Just kidding! It is only Thursday, and all that we have to satiate our football hunger is a humble grouping of Super Bowl ad previews.
So join me in watching them, and pretending — if just for a moment — that it’s the big day and the working week is just a distant memory.
The Good (relatively speaking)
Hyundai uses Wes Anderson-esque stylized detachment to sell its 2013 Sonata Turbo. Who’s buying?
Pepsi made Super Bowl history with a sexy Cindy Crawford in cut-offs. This ad will not make Super Bowl history, but it gets points for an extended take of a teenager dumping a full gallon of milk on his head and casting a mustachioed Will Forte lookalike as a preternaturally chill, soda-loving dad.
Audi’s “Prom” is a classic nerd-does-well story, and those are nice stories to tell. Now, is it appropriate how forcefully our commercial’s young hero kisses the prom queen? It certainly wouldn’t fly at Oberlin, but I’ll let you be the judge.
Axe Body Spray is the worst. And now it’s dragging down poor Buzz Aldrin. The man walked on the moon, people. He is better than this.
Mercedes-Benz is trying to fool you by calling this commercial “Kate Upton washes a car.” Poor, unsuspecting viewers will be waiting for a wonderfully sudsed-up Upton (a Sudsupton!), only to be shown a group of teenagers doing menial chores. But take heart, there is still Upton jiggling involved.
Taco Bell’s “Grandpa Goes Wild” is exactly what it sounds like: It is a grandpa going wild. While funny enough, it is clearly a straightforward Jackass rip off, and so it finds itself in the “stupid” category. Sorry, grandpa.
The mildly offensive
You knew this was coming, right? The Volkswagen “Get Happy” commercial that the entire Internet — and now the Jamaican government – is weighing in on. Clearly you can see what category I’ve stuck this in, but I’m no Super Bowl commercial cop. Feel free to decide for yourself.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.