Monday, September 3

Free pie and chips

From Entertainment Weekly: Joe Lawson, one of the ad writers who devised Geico's caveman commercials and the new ABC sitcom Caveman, recently acknowledged that he'd been inspired by the Neanderthal-themed title story in [George] Saunders' 2000 collection, Pastoralia. Far from being upset, Saunders tells EW he's pleased to get Lawson's shout-out. "Actually, I'm gonna write a novel now about a green lizard with a British accent," he jokes, referring to Geico's spokes-gecko, "and it'll even out."

This is wild. It turns out George Saunders, a writer who has expended a significant amount of ink jousting with commercialism, commodification and pop culture in his absurdist satires, actually inspired one of the undeniable low-points in American Culture. Layer upon layer of, dare I say, irony. Quite a puzzle.

By the way, I stumbled upon that tidbit adjacent to a review of Saunders' new essay collection, The Braindead Microphone. For what it's worth EW compared Saunders' journalistic talents to those of fellow fiction writers Norman Mailer and David Foster Wallace.


MJA said...

Ben, will you please translate the significance of your last remark? Saunders compared to Mailer and Wallace means...what exactly? I ask out of ignorance, not petulance.

Also, is Entertainment Weekly a legit culture magazine? I assumed it was just a tabloid with movie reviews. Am I wrong?

Ben said...

It is the highest of praise. Though Mailer became famous with his debut novel The Naked and the Dead he is more prolific as a non-fiction writer and was one of the progenitors of 'New Journalism.' That is to say, along with Joan Didion and others he helped popularize creative nonfiction. David Foster Wallace, a much younger fellow, has taken the baton in a sense. He is following a similar sort of career trajectory. Basically the two are famous novelists who are also supremely talented essayists and journalists.

No, of course Entertainment Weekly is not legitimate. Not a tabloid, but definitely more People than New Yorker. I parlayed some unused air miles into a free subscription. I generally skip the reviews, skim the features and take note of things like this week's DVD releases and their "Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer Movie Preview" which I swear they manage to do more than four times a year. It's a very, very broad jumping off point with very little to contribute in the way of ideas.

Bryan said...

Wait, undeniable low points in American culture? Excuse me? Roast Duck with Mango Salsa is for the elite.

Ben said...

I knew you would overreact like this, Bryan. I mean no disrespect to the advertisements themselves. As far as ads go they are (were) super. The television series is a disaster. An unrelenting assault on our nation's decency.