New York Times Melts Down Over Miami

February 4th, 2007 11:14 PM

If it's possible for the New York Times to jump the proverbial shark, they went one better. Given this, it would appear they jumped right out of an ever rising sea due to global warming and landed in a rest home by a beach in Iraq:

No commercial that appeared last night during Super Bowl XLI directly addressed Iraq, unlike a patriotic spot for Budweiser beer that ran during the game two years ago. But the ongoing war seemed to linger just below the surface of many of this year’s commercials.

More than a dozen spots celebrated violence in an exaggerated, cartoonlike vein that was intended to be humorous, but often came across as cruel or callous.

You see, those commercials weren't slick messages often containing bottles launched from Madison Avenue and designed to sell products like beer at millions of dollars a pop. They were all metaphors for a nation deflated, if not defeated, and dangerously obsessed with Bush's misguided war.

The problem with the spot, created internally at Prudential, was that whenever the announcer said, “a rock” — invoking the Prudential logo, the rock of Gibraltar — it sounded as if he were saying, yes, “Iraq.”

Okay, is it just me, or does it sound like the editors at the NY Times must have taped the Superbowl commercials and are now playing them backwards to distill the hidden message buried deep within?

It was as if Madison Avenue were channeling Doc in “West Side Story,” the gentle owner of the candy store in the neighborhood that the two street gangs, the Jets and Sharks, fight over. “Why do you kids live like there’s a war on?” Doc asks plaintively. (Well, Doc, this time, there is.)

During other wars, Madison Avenue has appealed to a yearning for peace. That was expressed in several Super Bowl spots evocative of “Hilltop,” the classic Coca-Cola commercial from 1971, when the Vietnam War divided a world that needed to be taught to sing in perfect harmony.

Coca-Cola borrowed pages from its own playbook with two whimsical spots for Coca-Cola Classic, “Happiness Factory” and “Video Game,” that were as sweet as they were upbeat. The commercials, by Wieden & Kennedy, provided a welcome counterpoint to the martial tone of the evening.

Those who wish the last four years of history had never happened could find solace in several commercials that used the device of ending an awful tale by revealing it was only a dream.

Good grief, they have finally gone totally insane.