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Super Bowl ads

There were some pretty good commercials during last night’s Super Bowl. The one with Betty White was clever. I didn’t catch even half of them, though; I was too busy eating and chatting with friends. But I noticed two trends: (1) not very funny or clever and (2) lots of celebrities. I guess I noticed a third trend: (3) commercials with celebrities that weren’t very funny or clever. It’s as if, instead of writing creative and funny ads, they said, Hey, let’s just write a script and pay the premium to get a celebrity to deliver it! Stuff’s always funnier when famous people say it! Except that isn’t really true and it wasn’t last night.

It used to be that most Super Bowl commercials were great, or at the very least that you could count on at least one good one per commercial break. But over the last couple years, viewers have had to work to sift out the good ones. Same goes for TV shows and movies.

Good writing — even and perhaps especially of comedy — requires a decent education, don’t you think? The best writers are able to pull from and synthesize multiple sources, whether historical, social, or cultural. It requires more than well-developed funny bone.

My hunch is that most of today’s ad and sitcom writers are about my age; they’re either members of Generation X (my generation) or they’re Millennials. Both generations, even more so than that of the Baby Boomers, are characterized by a strong sense of me-me-me-it’s-all-about-me. I wouldn’t be surprised if many writers today think something like the following: I was hired because of me! I’m funny! I’m hilarious! I don’t need to work at this; who needs to work at comedy writing or cultivate their comedic skills? Not me! Because I’m funny! I don’t need to be culturally well-rounded or well-versed in the comic arts. I don’t need to study good comedy or learn what works and what doesn’t because I’m me! Just give me a Macbook Pro and I’m gonna have you ROTFLOL’ing! Because, did I mention I’m funny and that it’s because I’m me? And if they haven’t quite articulated it that way, it’s probably only because they aren’t introspective and haven’t sat down long enough to figure themselves out (hey, only old people navel-gaze).

But what do I know.

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