Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Am In Love With This Ad



I love the audacity of using Walt Whitman to sell jeans. I love sound of the guy they got to read the poem. I love the sights and sounds of hot young model types running around a bonfire. I love how that manages to give a surprisingly appropriate rendering of the poem. I love how at the same time these skinny bitches are wildly incompatible with the hearty westward adventurers Whitman was writing about.

I love being able to marinate in Whitman's language ("sharp-edged axes"!) during a commercial break for Glee. I I love the idea of the "youthful, sinewy races" as society's pioneers -- reminiscent of that description of heaven in Angels in America ("racial impurity and gender confusion"). I love that the tan-faced children are embarking upon a newer, mightier, more varied world. I love that Levis thinks that world includes sexual ambiguity as ad fodder for the masses.

I love this kind of bald-faced audacity in advertising. I'm getting sold something anyway, might as well do it with something this impressive. I dunno, am I alone on this? The future as wild, young, sexually ambiguous revelers whose asses look great in jeans? I'll take that over The Road.
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11 comments:

CT said...

I LOVE the ad, but I wasn't able to articulate why.

You put it very well, sir.

Jen said...

I agree! I love this ad too. I almost feel like instead of an ad for jeans, Levis is sponsoring an ad for poetry and America. And, that's Walt Whitman himself reading the poem, btw. Early recording.

kim said...

i go back and forth about whether i love or hate it - i think it's that very "audacity" of using whitman to sell jeans that rankles me somewhat. but i do think it's very well done, and i love that (to me, anyway) the guy they got to read the poem sounds like allen ginsberg, who was a big fan of whitman's. whenever it comes on, i like to just listen to it and pretend it IS ginsberg and that i am 17 again and just falling in love with poetry for the first time.

hmm, i guess, having said all that, i'm more on the love side than the hate side.

kim said...

heh, now that i read jen's comment, i'm going to sit here and ponder how similar ginsberg and whitman sound (something about the cadence of how they speak) instead of working. awesome.

sam said...

I love this ad too, and I couldn't quite put my finger on why.

I think, in the age of the DVR, any ad that actually causes me to stop fast forwarding so I can see what the heck is going on is an accomplishment.

I also think that, while some folks may be put out by the use of Whitman to sell jeans, I don't really have a problem with it. If there was ever a product that screamed "classic americana" suitable for the overwhelming american-ness of Whitman, it's Levi's. I probably wouldn't feel that way if it were, say, 7 for all mankind.

Joe Reid said...

Jen: I had no idea! That's amazing and makes me love this even more.

BTW, I know zero about poetry, so anything else I got wrong in this post should be attributed to that.

JA said...

Joseph, go and read Leaves of Grass this instant. I demand it.

Joe Reid said...

I probably should. But it'll really cut into my Real World/Road Rules Challenge watching.

JA said...

Ah but you've never really seen Real World/Road Rules Challenge until you understand all the Whitman allusions those Rhodes scholars within are making.

Jon said...

There are a few of these commercials using Whitman's poetry. In one of them, the reader is Whitman in one of the few (or only?) recordings made of him. In the others, it's an actor. I'm not certain which of the ads is the one with Whitman's actual voice.

momo said...

I am looking for the link, but there is a university course on Whitman that's using lots of digital technology, and they set up a discussion forum that started out with a post on this ad--they'd love your post!