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Culture

All the Jew(ish) Super Bowl 2023 ads

Between Ma&Ya’s and the Snapchat commercial, it was all a bit much

Time was that Super Bowl ads were mild amusements that provided water cooler catchphrases — like “Wassup” or “Dilly Dilly.”

In the last few years they’ve become dystopic, in one instance trotting out Larry David to do a spot for cryptocurrency (a campaign for the embattled company FTX that actually had legal consequences for the Curb star). This year was about artificial intelligence, the cryptic fate of the M&M’s spokescandies and a sequel to that Adam Sandler-Jennifer Anniston Netflix murder mystery movie. 

It’s a weird new world that has such products in it, but allow me to break down what is of interest to the Jews.

Filter freak shows of the AI uncanny valley

Google Pixel

Amy Schumer relished the Photoshop-y functions of Google’s smartphone, setting out to “erase” her exes from various snaps. Doja Cat was impressed by a Pixel user’s mastery of the “unblur” feature in a fuzzy selfie. It’s a cute ad that didn’t make me fear for an all-too-easy distortion of our reality, unlike…

Snapchat

“What if rather than using your mind’s eye, you could see things with your eye’s mind?” asks the narrator of this spiral down an abyss of bulging eyes, animate foods and misbegotten chimeras. Snapchat imagines a world where, through the prism of your screen and Snapchat’s patented filters, your break-room vending machine is stocked with Kit Kats packaged as a treat called “Hungry Eyes” (y’know, like that Dirty Dancing tune, and somehow not the most upsetting candy rebrand of the evening) and your coworkers all look like Bojack Horseman. Hard pass.

Dialpad “The Good AI”

The premise of this ad protests too much. Don’t worry, this Artificial Intelligence is a benevolent variety. It will help with your sales goals. “It’s not that AI,” the pitch person whispers, before we cut away to people scrambling in terror from a “psychotic red light” modeled after 2001’s HAL. Somehow this is all less than reassuring.

Sequels we don’t need region

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

I love to see Harrison Ford sock Nazis in the jaw. Do I need to see him do it again? No. Will I? Of course.

Murder Mystery 2

Remember that late-Seinfeld episode where Elaine was a white lady at an Indian wedding and the whole thing was out of sequence? It’s giving that. By which I mean it features Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler as white folks who go to an Indian wedding and has the distinct feel that everyone involved is just kinda spinning their wheels at this point. If it’s anything like the first installment (which I remember nothing about) it will be one of the most-viewed things Ted Sarandos ever greenlit.

The ‘wait, weren’t they canceled?’ category

Planters

That’s Jeff Ross, the roastmaster general, having a go at Mr. Peanut. Jeff Ross, the guy who was accused of (but denies) having a relationship with a minor. He sued her for defamation, but Ross is also involved in another lawsuit following his 2015 special filmed at Brazos County Jail. Footage of Ross roasting an inmate was used in the man’s sentencing, and now the guy is appealing his death penalty to the Supreme Court, arguing the tape from Ross’ special landed him on death row. Anyway, even if Ross is not someone I’d want associated with my brand, it’s always nice to see Natasha Leggero! 

The Flash

Remember when they canceled Cops after police murdered George Floyd? Apparently you can watch it on the streaming service Fox Nation! Remember when Roseanne Barr was killed off of her own sitcom after being racist on Twitter? She has a new standup special called Cancel This! I guess no one’s ever really canceled, they just get moved to streaming.

A little song, a little dance, a little Pepsi Zero (and Clam Candy) down your pants

Workday

“We know that using Workday for finance and HR makes you great at your job,” KISS’ Paul Stanley says, in an ad that I hope helped him pay off the mortgage on a tertiary home. Anyway, I guess he thinks it’s stolen valor when you call someone with an office job a rockstar for being good at pivot tables or something.

Pepsi Zero

Ben Stiller gives us an acting master class (and proposes to Rachel Dratch), but leaves us wondering if he really does like the taste of Pepsi without sugar. It’s like a really low-stakes version of the Inception spinning top. Good to see his Blue Steel look is still in working order.

T-Mobile

Celebrities, they’re just like us: annoyed by their home internet plan. Thankfully Zach Braff and Donald Faison are around to show John Travolta the wonders of T-Mobile’s routers to the tune of “Summer Nights” from Grease. (I just Googled if a Scrubs reboot was imminent, and, sadly, it seems like a very real possibility.)

Heineken 0.0

Paul Rudd’s home team nabbed the trophy last night. Did he celebrate with a zero-proof beer, or was that just some Stiller school acting?

Rakuten

Alicia Silverstone returns as Cher Horowitz from Clueless to wax poetic about the benefits of earning cash while shopping. The commercial coulda used more Wallace Shawn.

M&M’s

I have no idea what is going on with Mars, Incorporated these days. Their advertising makes no sense. They’ve been airing the same Christmas commercial for so long that it has the aspect ratio of standard-definition television. Yet, they’re willing to splurge on a campaign that shows Maya Rudolph launching a candy-coated clam varietal of the candy in what seems to be a partial response to Fox News anchors ranting about the green M&M’s shift to more sensible footwear. It’s a fever dream with a terrifying coda. In the final seconds, the red M&M appears in the background with a sign that reads “Help!” What is happening? Did I eat some bad clams? 

The good news is, it seems like the spokescandies are back from their culture war-prompted hiatus. I welcome this return to normalcy, and hope we can keep it going till next February when U2 and the Chinese spy balloons headline the halftime show.

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