Three Good Commercials for Three Good Books
For some reason, Penguin's new "10 Essential Penguin Classics" book campaign targets doughy party people who can't pick up strangers because they don't know who Dante is or why Walden is important.

Basically, with this new ad campaign, Penguin has given up on selling books as art or entertainment. Apparently, they have utter contempt for the intrinsic virtues of reading and are now selling literature as a way to trick smart people into mating. This obscures the painful reality that growing more literate actually makes it harder to find suitable matches. Now you demand creativity and imagination in your lover beyond simple "sex appeal" or "proximity."

Another fun thing about these videos is that the "experts" on these books are all simply Penguin staff. It is both sad and exciting to see Penguin's finest try to explain books that they clearly do not understand and possibly have not even read.

Just like at a publishing party!


Here are three better commercials for "literature":


(A group of ragged street children run through a snowy city, jeering and yelling at one another. The camera zooms in close to their faces. Their dirty faces twist with hate and murder. They are chasing someone.)

Child Street Leader: "He went this way!"

Child Street Toadie: "Git him!"

(The children -- now carrying rocks, planks, and chains -- run into an alley. They slow down and begin smiling menacingly to one another as they advance, having now cornered their prey.)

(Their prey is revealed to be Jesus Christ. He is dressed in white robes and is bleeding from the crown of thorns on his forehead and from his punctured side.)

Child Street Leader: "You got to pay for what you done."

Child Street Toadie: "Yeah, you got to pay!"

(Jesus draws an animated heart in the air with his index fingers. He presents this heart with his plaintive open palms and a plaintive expression.)

(The Child Street Toadie spits at Jesus. The gob of spit catches Jesus in the cheek and makes him wince. The animated heart evaporates.)

Child Street Leader (Smiling cruelly): "You are bullshit, Jesus. Bullshit. And now you are gonna get yours."

(The children advance, cackling and violent. Jesus cowers, falling to his knees, turning his shoulder to the children. Their brutal shadows fall across him. Suddenly, he is hit by a rope ladder from high above. He looks up into the sky. An airship is hovering above the city and has lowered this lifeline to him. He grabs onto the rope ladder and is pulled out of the alley just as the children reach him. They tug at his sandals but get nothing. The Child Street Leader throws his cap on the ground and stomps on it out of frustration.)

(In the airship, a gigantic Russian man with a fantastical mustache is wearing a giant fur papakha hat and is peering over the side at Jesus dangling below him. The deck of the airship is covered with other Russians dancing, drinking, and playing cards. The gigantic Russian with the fantastical mustache throws his head back and laughs and laughs. He throws his fist over the side of the airship in a hearty salute. From the ladder, Jesus salutes back. Jesus is weeping. He begins to climb the ladder.)

(A black title card reads: "THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV")


(A young woman wearing a plain brown bun is seated at a writing desk. Her pen scratches like a scalpel and the words "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE" are carved out on the screen as she furiously composes.)

(It is night and her room is dark. She writes and writes, scratching into the paper with hard sexual severity. She massages her temples with her fingers and blots the paper. She shakes some powder onto it and blows the powder away.)

(She reads over what she has written, smiling. She leaves her room and runs out into the British countryside. She gets into a carriage. The carriage driver lashes his horses onward. She curls up in the back of the carriage, smiling knowingly in the darkness)

(The horses travel over fen and dale until at last the carriage arrives in front of a large country manor. She bursts into the manor, startling the servants who merely gape at her as she dashes through the rooms. She climbs the stairs, darting in and out of elaborate ballrooms filled with wooden furniture, patterned wallpaper, and ceramics. She throws open one last door and then tosses aside a Chinese screen. Behind the screen is an imperious man who is staring out of a window with his arms behind his back. He turns slightly to look at her, but he is so imperious that he can only look at her with one eye.)

(Her courage falters, but she hands him the letter anyway. He snatches it out of her hand, unimpressed, and begins to read it. As he reads, his expression slowly changes. He crumbles. He quails. He metamorphoses until he is nothing but a humble wretch. He falls onto the floor in front of her, kneeling. Abasing himself. His fingers clench against the hard wood. The young woman breathes heavily. The formerly imperious man's servants come to the threshold of the room and stare at him. Shocked. Appalled. Triumphant, the young woman rips open her sensible blouse, exposing her taut naked breasts. The nipples are pierced with gleaming steel hoops.)


(A homeless woman with a profound limp pushes open the door of a Starbucks and looks around. The Starbucks is full of young upwardly-mobile modern folks, talking on cell phones, working on laptops, sipping expensive coffees, and flirting. The homeless woman blinks. She is clutching something in her dirty hands. The camera reveals that it is a harpoon.)

(The homeless woman limps across the Starbucks, provoking stares and causing the whole room to slowly fall silent. The barista -- a nice young man with tan skin and a fauxhawk -- looks at her, mugging for the camera, as if he can't believe what he is seeing. He and a young female barista whisper to each other and conspire)

(The camera shows that the homeless woman is leaving a slug trail of fetid water behind her as she limps across the coffee shop. She licks her brown lips and narrows her fiery blue eyes)

HOMELESS WOMAN: "Black coffee is what I want and black coffee is what I shall receive. Neither the fires of hell nor heaven's foamy loins will sway me from my destiny, and the red dogs of the abyss will feast on your young eyes this night if you stand against me."

FAUXHAWKED BARISTA: "Ma'm, you can't bring that sword in here. This is a Starbucks. Not...hah hah...a renfair."

(The homeless woman leaps over the counter and stabs him in the chest with her harpoon. She stabs him again and again. His body is hidden by the Starbucks counter, but blood spurts up and soaks the woman's face. All the customers run screaming out the door. She stabs and stabs and stabs and stabs. Finally, she drops the harpoon and looks around. She is alone. Police sirens wail.)

(The homeless woman limps over to the coffee tureen and pumps hot coffee straight into one of her gnarled, brown hands. She brings her hand to her mouth and sips the coffee, shutting her eyes. She is in ecstasy. The camera drifts over her shoulder, traveling deep into the Starbucks logo until the face of the star-crowned wavy-haired logo mermaid fills the screen. Underneath the mermaid's smiling cartoon face, the screen flashes "READ MOBY DICK" in red)

(The homeless woman enters the frame one last time, slurping another handful of steaming black coffee)

Posted by miracle on Sat, 28 Nov 2009 00:43:47 -0500 -- permanent link

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