Monday, December 03, 2007

Land Rovers Of Death

I've already shared my thoughts about Chevrolet's use of "American Pie" in commercials -- even though the ads omit the last line of the chorus, "This will be the day that we die / This will be the day that we die," it's still bad judgment, in my opinion, to use a song that reminds people of their own mortality.

At least Chevrolet's ad team can claim they chose "American Pie" because it mentions Chevy by name. What the heck were Land Rover's people thinking when they picked "Do You Realize??" by the Flaming Lips for their latest advertising spot?

(The song title does, in fact, have two question marks, so that's not a typo. I just want to make sure the copy editors reading this don't freak out.)

"Do You Realize??" is one of the most remarkable songs I have ever heard. I have always appreciated it, but it took on special meaning after my brother died. Here are the lyrics:

Do you realize -- that you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize -- we're floating in space?
Do you realize -- that happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize -- that everyone you know someday will die?

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know
You realize that life goes fast.
It's hard to make the good things last.
You realize the sun doesn't go down.
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

As I see it, the song is about learning to come to grips with our own transience, and to understand that death is an inevitable part of life.

The Land Rover spot eliminates all of the lyrics save for the "Do you realize" lines, and asks the viewer questions such as if they've ever transported royalty or if they've ever seen the earth's curvature.

Anyone who recognizes the music in the Land Rover ads will automatically know that the types of questions asked have been cheapened -- instead of being existential and philosophical, they are now meant to make you think about how many awesome things you can do in a Land Rover.

More importantly, anyone who knows the point of "Do You Realize??" will be reminded of the message of the song when they see the Land Rover spot. The commercial will not make them think of expensive, rugged, capable new vehicles. They will think of death, of loved ones who have died, and of their own impermanence.

"Do You Realize??" is an amazing song. It's one of those songs that can change your mood and, perhaps, your life. To me, it's a reminder that I and everyone I love will die one day, and there's nothing I can do but try to understand this fact.

I can't imagine a worse song to use in a commercial. However, I'm sure I'll turn on the teevee sometime soon and prove myself wrong.

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