Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TV LOVES YOU BACK MARCH: Brinks Security commercials are unrealistic, overly telling


Welcome to leafy, tranquil suburbia. It's a beautiful day, or maybe a sultry evening.

A housewife kisses her husband goodbye; he's off to work. A teenage babysitter assures worried parents, calling from a night out on the town, that the kid's safely tucked in. A woman begins to exercise on her treadmill. So far, so good: this is real life, as real people live it.

Or maybe not. In these Brinks Home Security commercial scenarios - there are maybe four or five of 'em, total - the peace and quiet of domestic life is predictably shattered. By one or two scruffy dudes in black hoodies. Who've been lurking in the bushes, waiting for the chance to burglarize 123 Kitkat Glen by - wait for it - running up to the front door, presumably in industrial-strength jackboots, to kick the front door in.

(In one instance, the burglar smashes a window, but for the sake of this post, we'll conveniently forget about that one.)

BOOM! The door flies in, knocked off its hinges.Oh no! But then an alarm sounds, and whichever damsel in distress is the protagonista of whichever Brinks commerical starts freaking out - and justifably so. Bad guy flees upon hearing the siren, phone rings and is seized. It's your friendly neighborhood Brinks receptionist, calling to make sure everything's cool; he's sent in the calvary (i.e. law enforcement).

I don't begrudge anyone the right to protect his or her (or their) homes; for many of us, our house is our most valuable asset - lives aside, of course. But these particular commercials are simultaneously ridiculous and telling, for the following reasons. If you think they reflect the biases and PC inclinations of Brinks ad execs and whoever they're paying to film these things, guess again; a culture's commercials - especially the ones that air again and again, for years and years - can be viewed as a measure of its views and attitudes. Consider these points:

1. The on-scene victims are always women, alone; Damsels in distress, as I mentioned above. (With one exception, but still.) Which suggests that, collectively, society still sees women as "the weaker sex," in need of protection.

2. I'm no criminologist, but do dudes really kick in front doors in robberies when they know people are at home? Really? I've heard of so-called "push-in" robberies, and breaking and entering by surrepticious means is timeless. But how desperate and stupid is a crook who just up and kicks down a door? The criminal is also in danger of self-injury; what if the door is solid steel with a cheap paint fa├žade? What if he breaks his leg or foot and can't get away? I think Brinks ad makers are living in some sort of make-believe fantasyland - or maybe just shorthanding how crimes are committed in order to get a point across in a brief time window.

2a. When he's having songs from the forthcoming Relapse made into videos, Eminem should totally spoof one of these commercials, appearing as hoodied goon - maybe he could con Asher Roth into joining him as Hoodied Stooge #2. Dre would play the Brinks receptionist; Paris Hilton could be the protagonista; maybe the surviving dudes from D-12 could do some sort of mocking voiceover thing.

3. "This is class war!" Propaghandi screamed on one of their vitrolic fourth-wave punk songs, a lifetime ago. And it's interesting to note that everyone in these Brinks ads is white: crooks, damsels, Brinks employees. Thieves come in all colors, shapes, and sizes so let's assume that Brinks didn't want to fall prey to charges of stereotyping or racism. Another theory is that the makers of these spots recognized what our society was swiftly becoming even in 2006 or 2007: a culture ever more starkly defined by class distinctions, where petty crime predictably increases as companies and factories close and average people lose their jobs. Brinks wanted - wants - to forearm the upper middle class against the desperate acts of those residing closer to the bottom of that particular slice of the pie graph.

Maybe. Whether or not I'm right, these commercials are still deeply, deeply ludicrous.

1 comment:

Raymond Cummings said...

I meant to work the lyrics to Pavement's "Brinx Job" - which has always struck me as a jab at alt-rock bands signing with major record labels - into this post, somehow, but didn't. Anyway, here they are:

"It's so funny we went right down to the store-we got the money so we'll put you down
We got the money, we got the money, we got the money
We got the money, we got money, we got the money
Ho! we got the money now
And I won't even let you hoooooo...."