Posts Tagged ‘Will Anderson’

I look forward to Wednesday night¬†on the ABC¬†– in fact, it’s the only night I¬†plan¬†on watching actual broadcast content. The Young Inventors, Spicks and Specks, The IT Crowd and The Armstrong and Miller¬†Show are all great fun, and given the premise of going backstage with advertising experts, The Gruen¬†Transfer seemed like a promising addition to the line-up.

In hindsight, Will Anderson should have set alarm bells ringing. As much as I loved The Glass House, Dave Hughes and a series of witty guests carried that show, because Young Master¬†Billy, as his abysmal performance at this year’s Melbourne Comedy Festival made apparent, is ratshit without an autocue and¬†some interesting sidekicks.

Which leads us to¬†the advertising representatives who, it seems, will make up the weekly panel.¬†It’s worth noting the apparent effort at diversity in their ranks: Dee, the¬†sole woman, comes off as creative-by-nature, cynical-by-necessity, and¬†easily the most intelligent and well-adjusted participant. Granted, however, this is not tricky when compared to her fellow marketeers. Russell has the self-contradicting, overly-enthusiastic sheen of a man suddenly forced to rationalise¬†ethical issues he hasn’t actually thought about. Todd appeared¬†genuinely interested in the¬†psychology and studies behind why advertising works, but¬†took a credibility hit from being paired with Dan,¬†the vile, sleazy epitome of corporate selling, whose¬†cringeworthy humour¬†left the audience wincing and Will Anderson with a glazed, almost manic desperation to¬†change topic.

The humour of The Gruen¬†Transfer¬† was hard to pinpoint: watching advertising high-flyers hold forth on how to market beer (or, at one point, whale meat) held an awful fascination, because none¬†of the panel seemed to realise that their willingness to do so, rather than any jokes they might make, was what people had¬†shown up¬†to laugh at.¬†Anderson himself was uncertain of which side to take, alternately egging on the advertisers and asking¬†sharp questions of them.¬†But this only achieved awkwardness:¬†laughing with the panel alienated the audience, while laughing at them provoked unease. Having tuned in to watch marketing practices exposed as immoral wank and their practitioners called scum, I maintain the latter tactic is the most viable means of success, but it’s undoubtably difficult¬†to¬†make four professionals¬†show up for¬†a weekly ridiculing of their chosen industry.

Ultimately, The Gruen Transfer seems like an insupportable concept.¬†As long as it remains unable to strike a working balance between self-pity,¬†mockery and flagellation, it will¬†act as a discomforting metaphor¬†for society’s relationship¬†with advertising:¬†hate-love, with¬†lashings of smug immorality, ignorance and guilt.¬†¬†¬†