Is it naive to believe the advertisement will one day go away? Corporate hegemony being what it is, this terminus feels unlikely. Entire industries survive as delivery services for commercials — little pictures in newspapers, 30-second TV spots, those banners on each side of this very website — and they are as concrete a part of our reality as the desk chair underneath you right now. We may as well enjoy them — with the requisite caution.
Take for example, the friendly series of Go Daddy ads featuring Jonas Valanciunas as pitchman for something called Itty Bitty Ballers. (The product, as delightful as it is, is totally fake, but JV really sells it — so much so he was mystified at people who thought it was a real thing.) Go Daddy strikes me as a benignly dumb company that used to market their services — web development and hosting — by way of pitch-women who had trouble keeping their clothes on. I’m confident in saying this Jonas-centric angle is much better as far as ad campaigns go.
I bring this up because there’s a new ad, one that features our pal Lucas Nogueira in a supporting role. (When asked why he would agree to work for JV, Bebe said, simply, “it’s business.”)
There are all kinds of great details in this one, little touches that really expand on the fictitious “Jonas Valanciunas, business magnate” universe. Note the motivational posters in Lithuanian, Patrick Patterson’s dream of being a centaur, Bebe’s confusion as to what that is, the inclusion of a water cooler — this is wonderful stuff. Yes, I can acknowledge commercials are a waste of time, designed purely to sell me something (often desperately), but I can also enjoy the chuckle some provide. That’s modern life, of which media literacy — the how and what and why of everyday sensory consumption — plays a growing part.
By this same token, media literacy also helps us disseminate why it might be bad for a corporation to try to co-opt a sensitive, and extremely important, contemporary political and social movement, one in which progress is halting, and peace potentially far away. We who were once a people who took every ad at face value — think of those miracle cures and solutions to every inconvenience — now understand that commercials, and their corporate makers, are not always so fun and harmless. It’s fake but real at the same time.
Maintain an eager vigilance then, and keep this notion in mind for the next time. (Because there will be a next time.)
But back to Bebe’s commercial turn. It’s not surprising Nogueira has some acting talent before the camera. The stand-out highlight for me is the moment Jonas discovers Pat and Bebe chilling at the water cooler. Patterson freezes, while Lucas does the classic move of every lazy employee in the history of time: a quick aversion of the eyes, a head duck, and a fast step out of the frame. This is a guy who understands how to make haste; real recognize real.
Now, I’ve written before about the Raptors as actors, but to supplement that, here’s the Raptors Potential Acting Power Rankings (grading the worst to best acting chops on the team):
12. Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Bruno Caboclo — Just not a ton of confidence on display here.
11. Pascal Siakam, Norman Powell — Can be demonstrative, both need focus.
10. Jakob Poeltl — Dry and wry, unique look.
9. Serge Ibaka — Movie star good looks yes, but reticent to give anything away.
8. DeMar DeRozan — A useful foil, but not as much of a gunner with his emotions.
7. Cory Joseph — Probably not a lead, but could be a strong supporting actor.
6. Jonas Valanciunas — Definitely has a future in comedy, or as “Goon #3”.
5. Patrick Patterson — His burning desire to be a thespian shines through too much.
4. DeMarre Carroll — An underrated charmer.
3. P.J. Tucker — Just tremendous personality in every facet of his being.
2. Lucas Nogueira — A man of big and small gestures.
1. Kyle Lowry — The best at everything. (Did I mention he was back? Kyle Lowry is back.)
It’s perhaps fitting that Lowry and Bebe are reunited at the top of these rankings, as they have re-discovered each other (sort of) on the Raptors. Unfortunately, after a bad stretch of play from Lucas, followed by Lowry’s absence, Nogueira is out of the playing rotation. We’ve long wondered if Lowry’s return would mean a return from Bebe, owing to their on-court chemistry. Apparently, it is not to be — as Lowry has taken to enjoying the partnership with a different young big man. Nogueira played a total of three seconds this past week. Sad.
And just to tip our toe back into the TV waters, can you believe this shit? The comical lack of respect Jeopardy producers have for their contestants’ sports knowledge is amazing. This was a final Jeopardy category — sports mascots — and someone actually got it wrong. Hoo boy. This is what happens when, say, Zach Lowe insists on referring to the Raptors as the “Drakes.” It’s demeaning at worst, and at best: it does not help educate the people! The people need to know about the Raptors.
Maybe if they’d included a clip of a Lowry-Bebe alley-oop? I guess we’ll never know... again.
Level of High Level
Lowry is back, the Raptors are, by my estimation, soaring into the playoffs. Even the matchups might work out (or medically kill us, depending on where the Bulls get to). Sure, Lucas Nogueira isn’t playing, but that’s, as he said, just business. The team’s winning, let’s enjoy the ride.
High Level Result: 6 out of 10 — To be honest, I’m chuckling as I imagine Dwane Casey calling for Nogueira to run some sort of drill and Bebe averting his eyes, ducking his head, and heading for the showers. Some commercials just feel true to life, you know?