When Jeff Bridges' tweeted a brief video teasing the return of his beloved character Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, the internet was abuzz with rumors. Were we getting a sequel to The Big Lebowski? A Netflix series? A podcast where The Dude solves grisly cold case murders? Most people's hopes were deflated upon noticing that the date listed at the end of the video was Super Bowl Sunday, meaning it was probably promoting some dumb commercial. Which it was.
It turns out that The Dude is merely making an appearance in a beer commercial, like some common sunglasses-clad bull terrier. Even odder, the commercial finds him running into Carrie Bradshaw from Sex And The City, which isn't even the best Coen Brothers / HBO crossover we can think of. Wouldn't you rather see Larry David meet Anton Chigurh? Or some White Walkers show up in Fargo?
Does anybody enjoy seeing these beloved characters brought back only to awkwardly hock some middling beer? It's not just The Dude. Let us not forget the time Doc Brown used the DeLorean to kidnap himself as a child, or when Kevin McCallister seemingly murdered his entire family to claim their house once and for all. Most frustratingly, though, the makers of these commercials want consumers to believe that they're getting an actual sequel. That way, they get to wring as much publicity and hype as possible out of their investment.
Remember that Crocodile Dundee ad with Danny McBride? Even before the commercial aired, we got a fake trailer for the fake reboot, complete with a fake release date, even a website with production stills. It all turned out to be in service of a spot for Australian tourism -- which is weird, because the original Crocodile Dundee made the country seem like a snake-filled nightmare.
But in doing so, they drummed up a bunch of free publicity. This strategy seems to date back to 2012. A ten-second video of Matthew Broderick complaining about work ended with that bum-bum ... chicka-chicka tune, which caused folks to wonder if he was filming a sequel to Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Of course, it turned out to be a prelude to a goddamn car commercial in which Broderick calls in sick, goes to a baseball game, and sings on parade float, all while driving a decidedly not super-cool SUV.
The problem with this formula is it inevitably breeds disappointment and resentment. It's hard to imagine that the fans posting excited GIFs in response to Bridges' initial Tweet were super thrilled to see him understudy for Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha. Modern life is just "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine" ad nauseam.
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