Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Yoke of the Horde

Some works are beyond criticism.

It's not necessarily significant of "greatness" -although it can be. And most great films have plenty of room for criticism.

In animation, I can only think of a handful of works that fit this category.

Priit Parn's "1895" is one:

Martha Colburn's "Evil of Dracula":

Of course, Hubley's "Moonbird":

Perhaps the "gesamkunstwerk" nature of animation allows for even greatness to have it flaws. J. J. Villard's "Son of Satan", for instance, amongst the most powerful films of the decade, still has a thing or two that stick out -the dad's voice, for instance. His "Chestnuts Icelolly" may be more refined, may still be great, but doesn't have near the impact of "Son of Satan".

My old high school pal David Prior has just published a book which, in my opinion, is beyond criticism.

"The Yoke of the Horde"

Here's an excerpt that's off the narrative track of the book, but humorously pertinent to our profession.

'Well, heck, I know it's my logo but I wonder if that's enough. I mean, I wonder if we could somehow get the logo in that little movie with the old man and the truck.'

'You don't need a logo during that part. People are going to identify you with the old man and the truck. You just said so yourself.'

'I know that and you know that, but crazy as it sounds there are a lot of people out there that don't know the first thing about BFT&H. They're likely to see this here commercial and not make the connection between BFT&H and wholesome goodness. I don't need Bobby Beercans sitting at home saying to himself... Well heck, I don't know those kinds of people will say about all of this. He might like the truck but... oh hell. Can't we just the logo or a voice in there, something beside the spiritual music, so people know what its all about?'

'Of course people are going to know what it's all about, Mr. Susskind. That's why we add your name to the end of the commercial. Believe me, we test run commercials all of the time in order to see what the most effective ways for a company to get their point across is, and this approach always does very well. It's a tried and true performer, and if you don't mind me saying so, from your reaction just a minute ago, you thought the bit about the farmer was very engaging, and it was a very good, very effective commercial.'

'No. It needs something more. It's my company, and it's my commercial, and I say it needs a little something more.'

'Okay, fine. Look, maybe I can have some of my people at CPS&D make it so the hat the old man is wearing is a BFT&H hat. How about that?'

'No, someone might miss that. Uh-uh. I want something big, something major, so not even the damnedest fool imaginable would be able to miss it.... You know what I want, Miss Borimmer? I want the old man, when his grandchildren come running to him, that part that you described the people at the agency liking the most, I want that part to be the BFT&H moment. Pinpoint it. Right at that moment, right at that moment you get your marketing stat people to sit around with a bunch of stop watches, and you tell them to watch for the reactions on peoples' faces, you know, these test tube guinea pig people you have watching the new commercials, the...'

'The focus group.'

'Right, those people. See I want those people monitored. You got that? Strictly monitored, that's how we're going to have to do this. Now bear with me, Ms. Borimmer, because we're all on the same team now, BFT&H, CPS&D, we're all going to have to work together now. So what you guys and gals over there at CPS&D are going to do now is watch those little people and once they get to the part you said they all liked, you- no, better yet. Tape them. Yes, tape them and slow down the tape, right. And right at the millionth of a second when they first smile, weep, whatever the hell they do to show we've made them happy, that's when we have the BFT&H appear, and I don't mean I want to see on some fellow's hat. I mean appear. We're talking a crash of thunder, a bolt of lightening, whammo bammo sis boom bah, and then across the sky BFT&H.'

If you don't buy the book, you'll regret it for the rest of your life.

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