Thinking about Tony Scott’s last TV commercial and whether it was “too soon” to call it junk.
August 22, 2012
I took a fair amount of criticism for my curt dismissal of director Tony Scott’s last ad before killing himself. The trades posted the commercial for Mountain Dew and I linked it to Facebook and Twitter calling it an “ignominious end to a brilliant career.” Among other things, I was told it was “too soon” for such a negative commentary. One guy in England called me a “cunt.” Yikes.
Many reminded me of how great a person Tony Scott was and how fine a director. I don’t discount that. As a matter of fact, I count some of his films as all-time favorites. Not Top Gun by the way. But The Hunger and True Romance are badass and beautiful. Scott directed movies that pleased crowds and chewed up the screen. He also made a lot of TV commercials, many of them wonderful.
Yet, his last one wasn’t. A paint-by-numbers soft drink ad in a tired campaign, the Mountain Dew commercial is not a fitting epitaph. The last line of copy is “But I’m Mark Cuban!” Need I say more?
Getting back to the “too soon” theme. I wonder what does that mean anymore? I know what it used to mean: a grace period granted to the maimed and dead. Usually referring to the press. But the press ain’t what it used to be. Nowadays, a wily blogger or rogue cop will post a story long before the traditional news media. Why isn’t that “too soon?” Shouldn’t a story, especially one featuring terrible news, be verified and fact checked before getting told? Like it or not, the answer is “no.”
In my case I re-posted a film Mr. Scott made calling it mediocre. Yet, the commercial was already out there. Since the TV spot is what I said it was don’t you think the trades knew it too? Why didn’t they post one of the directors many, many better films? By deeming this lessor piece newsworthy they were passing commentary as well. Without sounding defensive, I was merely providing the caption.
Finally, I would suggest –we can never know- that Tony Scott would have agreed with my assessment. Despite all the pain he was likely going through, because his death was premeditated I’m wagering it crossed his mind that his last commercial outing was a dud. In the big picture, this means nothing. But as a creative guy, who will also die some day, I can’t help but wonder what my last creation will be? Likely some forlorn trade ad or random blog post. Sigh.
As always, I welcome your comments. Even if you agree with the Englishman.