Again, here’s one of those posts where I just clear out whatever foolishness happens to be hanging around my brain so I can start the week with a fresh, empty head. (Hmm…is that actually what I’m aiming for?)
First of all, gotta blog about Nissan’s Bonavista commercial. This has been big news in the Newfoundland blogging community recently — so big that it actually made it into the print media with a piece in today’s Telegram. The commercial (which promotes the new “Bonavista” by showing a salesman with a Newfoundland accent so strong he requires subtitles) has been enjoyed by some and vilified by others. You can read about it (and in many cases watch the clip) at several blogs, including this much is true, Cove Blogger, Everyone’s a Critic, John Gushue, and especially at Product of Newfoundland where a lively debate has been going on in the comments section.
We Newfoundlanders like to think of ourselves as funny people who are happy to laugh at ourselves but the fact is most of us can get a bit touchy about the stereotypical “Newfie” humour that makes us look “stunned,” especially if we perceive it as people from away laughing AT us, rather than us laughing at ourselves. The problem is that we don’t always agree which humour falls in the category of “Newfoundlanders laughing wittily at themselves” and which is “mainlanders making fun of us.” The Nissan ads seem to have hit right on that divide, and on a raw nerve for many.
Personally? I found the ad funny. I like the kind of Newfoundland humour that says “We’re cool in our own way, in fact, we’re so cool you can’t even understand how cool we are — we’ve left you in the dust.” That’s what the commercial, particularly with the final “Lard Thunderin,” subtitle, says to ME … but that’s just me. I agree with some that the salesman’s acting and accent weren’t entirely convincing and someone else might have done it better (Townie Bastard suggested Buddy Wasisname might have been a better choice, and I personally would love to have seen Kevin Blackmore do this, but again the Buddy Wasisname’s brand of humour is one that some Newfoundlanders find demeaning while others can’t get enough of). I do understand the perspective of those who found the ad offensive, but it made me laugh and made me proud, rather than embarrassed, to be a Newfoundlander, so that’s good enough for me.
And for my non-Newfoundland readers who can’t keep up with what this is all about, a question: do American Southerners experience the same kind of angst and self-doubt over Jeff Foxworthy? What about Jewish or African-American comedians who satirize their own subculture? Does this “what’s funny, what’s offensive” debate translate into other cultures at all?
And now, in other news …
I missed posting on Friday that it was the 40th anniversary of the first-ever Star Trek broadcast, and I think you know what an important anniversary that’s gotta be for a Big Huge Geek like me. I wish they’d started it a year earlier so I could be exactly the same age as Star Trek. Unlike many, I did not grow up on Star Trek and my first Trexposure was to the movies in the 80s. In later years, especially after I married I guy even geekier than I am, I went back and saw most of the various Trek incarnations in reruns or on DVD. While I am not on the level of people the people who own their own Vulcan ears and have translated the Bible into Klingon, I have been known to wear a Trek uniform at Hallowe’en (oh sure, I’ll show you a picture, why not?) and I am more than happy to say “Happy Birthday, Star Trek!”
Speaking of birthdays…
Just over a year ago I helped throw a big party for myself and two friends who were all turning 40 that week. (Oh sure, I’ll show you another picture … you twisted my arm!) Obviously, my two good friends have now both turned … another big number … just ahead of me, so I want to say happy birthday to Sarah and to Sherry, and every good wish for the year ahead. My own birthday is tomorrow, so as you click around the blogosphere you can take a break from all those sombre reflective posts about the 5th anniversary of 9/11, and enjoy a purely self-indulgent birthday post from me. But that’s tomorrow.
One more thought on birthdays. Another friend of mine who’s approaching that great midlife milestone is doing the Coolest Thing Ever to celebrate her birthday. Ami of Muse Ink is trying to raise $40,000 for Heifer International through her gift registry. If you feel like making the world a better place, click on and donate. You don’t even have to know Ami! For the first time ever, I gave someone two flocks of chickens for their birthday and felt completely good about it … she’s not even going to have to clean up after them.
The world is full of people who have a lot more to worry about than potentially offensive SUV ads and Star Trek anniversaries and where to party when they turn 40, so let’s take a minute to do something good for someone less fortunate. Way to go Ami for having the idea, and happy birthday!