6 Times Famous Geniuses Sold Out (And S*** Got Weird)
Many artists recognize that in between shocking the world with their creations, they're going to have to shoot a lot of cereal commercials. After all, creative people will always need money to pay the bills, and cereal companies will always need alluring imagery to make consumers forget they're buying diabetes in a box. It should be a match made in marketing heaven. But it turns out that making art and tricking people into buying stuff are two very different skill sets, and artistic visionaries don't make very good marketing drones.
The Designer Of Alien Wants You To Buy A Stereo In Hell
When Japanese electronics company Pioneer hired Swiss surrealist painter and Alien designer H.R. Giger in the mid-'80s, they apparently told him: "Do your thing, just throw an entertainment center in there somewhere." To his credit, Giger delivered as promised. He created the perfect ad to capture that coveted demographic of people who need a new stereo system and consume souls for sustenance.
Like yours. Right now.
But that's not all. Pioneer, apparently and inexplicably delighted, also released a print campaign featuring Giger's designs. You might think these are posters for Japanese horror movies or some band your minister has warned you about, but that's silly. They're obviously ads for stereo equipment.
Giger might have taken their enthusiasm for his work a bit too literally though, seeing as how he filled the commercial with actual nightmare fuel. That anaphylactic Jabba the Tank was apparently based on Giger's concept art for the famously unmade film adaptation of Dune by Alejandro Jodorowsky, which was ahead of its time by exactly how many centuries it'll take for Cthulhu to rise again.
George Lucas Goes On An Acid Trip Full Of Star Wars Characters
George Lucas might be the only director ever who used his blockbuster movie career to achieve his lifelong dream of making crappy advertisements. Then again, that hasn't really been a secret since Return Of The Jedi turned out to be a two-hour ad for Ewok dolls. In 1987, four years after releasing the last good Star Wars movie, Lucas wasn't really sure if the royalty checks for one of the most profitable franchises in the history of mankind were going to cover his kids' tuition. This resulted in a series of Japanese commercials for Panasonic so devoid of any artistic integrity that they make Jar Jar Binks look like a Coen Brothers character.
Take his debut, which shows Lucas standing on a planet that is somehow made of both sand and treadmills, finally coming together with his beloved Star Wars characters to pay homage to an almighty satellite dish.
That's no moon. That's $499 at Target.
Pay special attention to how Darth Vader nonchalantly slides into place and Chewie greets him all casually, like they're convention buddies.
"Hey, you still own me for the Comic-Con car rental."
But the crowning deuce of this shitshow features Lucas standing in a cornfield for some reason, reminiscing about how he created his characters, only to get abducted by a gang of Ewoks and taken to a reunion of those characters ...
Is this what it's going to look like for George Lucas when he dies? Walking through a wheat field like in Gladiator as he meets all of his iconic characters? Why are they in the afterlife? Was Chewbacca a real person all along, or is Peter Mayhew forced to wear the Chewbacca costume for all eternity as recompense for his sins in life?
Guillermo Del Toro Sells Alka-Seltzer With Body Horror
When famed horror director Guillermo del Toro was still unknown, he was approached to make a fun and breezy commercial for Alka-Seltzer in his native Mexico. A stereotypical bloaty businessman in the commercial excuses himself to go to the bathroom, where he's revealed to not only suffer from heartburn and indigestion, but also from supernatural metamorphosis and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.
He was already honing his instinct of improving a script by saying "Let's throw a monster in there and see what happens."
That is, until he plop-plops, fizz-fizzes, and sucks that sweet relief down his big old hog-snout. His ordeal ends and he returns to work, where the real nightmare was waiting all along: a marketing presentation.
"Can we please stop scheduling these on full moons?"
"It's the only time the room's open."
It's not hard to understand how del Toro went from this to the acclaimed horror film Cronos in one year. You can almost hear the crunching of bones reshaping themselves as the businessman transforms into a disgusting hairy monster. It's kind of brilliant, creating an ad for antacid that makes people want to barf.
Andy Warhol Doesn't Really Give A Shit If You Buy A VCR
The only thing most people know about Andy Warhol is that he was famous for taking a piss on the ad industry. Unfortunately, nobody had told the people at Japan's TDK video this. They apparently thought he was a spokesperson for Campbell's soup. They were also tragically unfamiliar with his odd, experimental films, because nearly a third of his 30-second ad for TDK shows Warhol holding up a cartoonishly fake plastic television and just standing there with his eyes closed, completely silent.
The original cut was three hours long.
He then starts groggily spitting Japanese, like an android sputtering to life. This is countered by some low-quality upbeat jazz, for some unexplained reason. Finally, Warhol's eyes suddenly pop open as he finishes his pitch, and it becomes very, very obvious why everyone was scared of Andy Warhol in the '60s.
We told you exactly what was going to happen, and half of you still need a change of underwear anyway.
If you watch the video, you can hear that the last word -- you know, the one that startles him awake -- is clearly dubbed over by another person. This is because Warhol couldn't pronounce the Japanese word for "beautiful," kirei, instead pronouncing it like kirai, which means "hate." Or maybe it was his way of being subversive. Who knows? If Warhol had ever done anything that made the slightest bit of sense, he probably would have vanished back to whatever mad pixie realm he came from.
Salvador Dali Sells Out As Confusingly As Possible
Surrealist artist Salvador Dali (aka the melting clocks guy) was something of a marketing powerhouse. For example, he designed the logo for Chupa Chup lollipops. And in his later years, Dali turned his business savvy to advertising and created a number of commercials, charging a whopping $10,000 per minute of film. First there was this chocolate ad, in which Dali decided to perform as the world's craziest haberdasher endorsing a bar of chocolate's run for political office.
He really should have stopped after those first three words.
It gets creepier from there. His attempts at selling Alka-Seltzer, in which he reenacts what he'd look like dissecting a corpse, are no less insane.
If you need an explanation (philistine), Dali is obviously artistically interpreting how Alka-Seltzer acts on the body. It might seem unlikely that a 20-second short about filling a woman's crevices with flour would boost sales, but genius is often misunderstood. Goddammit, what is it about advertising Alka-Seltzer that turns people into lunatics?
David Lynch's Anti-Littering PSA Is A Fucking Nightmare
Public service announcements are basically a license for governments to scare people straight, so if you want a famous director for yours, David Lynch makes a fair amount of sense. But the guy behind Twin Peaks likes a challenge. That's why he didn't make a PSA on drunk driving or checking yourself for suspicious lumps. No, that would have been too easy. Instead, Lynch chose to lend his particular set of skills to the 1991 New York City anti-littering campaign. And the results? Terrifying.
The video starts off quite normal by Lynchian standards, with some typical paranoia-inducing black and white images of New Yorkers littering. Suddenly, a careless meat vessel drops his trash on the street.
He would do the same with script pages for Twin Peaks season two.
Then Lynch summons THE RATS ...
... THE RATS ...
... THE RATS ...
... THE RAAAAAAATS.
They are the price we pay for our careless littering. Filth breeds filth, which was probably also Lynch's high school yearbook quote. Yet from the way he portrays the actual littering New Yorkers as disgusting and ignorant, it becomes clear that we should be rooting for these rat butts. In Lynch's world, the people are the true rodents. New Yorkers walk around spitting, sneezing, and throwing around garbage like their city isn't filling its yearly cesspool quote on its own. The advert's titled "We Care About New York," but who's the "they" in that scenario?
We're pretty sure Lynch is siding with the rats on this one.
Better question: Who's the torch dude on the right? What's his story? Why is he waving around a lit torch at a biker hoedown? Does he have an audition for an off-Broadway musical about the Statue of Liberty after this? We'll never know. They all got eaten alive by rat butts.
Manna has a Twitter or something.
Zoroastrianism used to be one of the biggest religions in the world, but their idea of heaven had a slight twist on it: To get there you'd have to cross a bridge, sometimes rickety, sometimes wide and sturdy. If you fell off, you'd go to the House of Lies for eternity. Fun! Not terrifying at all! This month, Jack, Dan, and Michael, along with comedians Casey Jane Ellison and Ramin Nazer discuss their favorite afterlife scenarios from movies, sci-fi, and lesser-known religions. Get your tickets here, and we'll see you on the other side of the bridge!
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