Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX Commercials: 1st Half Roundup

There's pretty much only one guarantee in the Super Bowl - there will be winners and there will be losers. The same holds true for the commercials.

The Winners:
1) Chevy Colorado  - Do we need 4G LTE WiFi in our cars? Probably not. But, I bet you panicked for a second when you watched this commercial and then thought it might not be a bad backup plan. Well played.

2) BMW i3 with Katie Couric & Bryant Gumbel - The tag on this one (big ideas take a little getting used to) is brilliant. PS - Remember when these two were on TODAY and it was actually good? Sadly, the TODAY show hasn't aged as well as Katie.

3) Nationwide with Mindy Kaling & Matt Damon - Mindy Kaling & Matt Damon. Enough said.

4) FIAT's 500x Crossover - proof that a little blue pill really can make things more exciting.

The Losers:

1) esurance with Lindsay Lohan - yawn. Show this one to your kids as a reminder of the consequences of drug use.

2) Snickers Brady Bunch - even Danny Trejo and Steve Buscemi can't save this commercial from its lame attempt at humor.

3) T-Mobile with Kim Kardashian - This is one case where the product (Data Stash) is actually better than the commercial. Kim's selfie jokes are about as current as 3G.

Special shoutouts to the best heartwarmers: Budweiser's #bestbuds and McDonald's #paywithlovin. Both had pretty flawless execution.

Overall, no surprise here, but my FAVORITE commercial of the night goes to Always #likeagirl. Creative, poignant, and such a strong/necessary message.

Key takeaways: Celeb cameos were a common theme so far. But some clearly fell short. A famous face won't compensate for bad creative. Also, did anyone else take a power nap during GoDaddy's brief appearance? 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I pledge allegiance...to which flag?

I received a Facebook message today from an old college classmate, with whom I had several heated debates in the course of a semester of foreign policy. There was no subject and the text of the message read as follows:

How do you feel about your beloved Israel NOW?!?!

This message appeared alongside several invitations to rallys and groups calling for the vocal support of the IDF’s actions over the weekend. It accompanied the dozens of emails I received from various newsletters and friends on both sides of the issue containing “talking points” and attempts to expose the “truth” of this weekend’s events. I even listened to the chatter on the metro as newly minted DC summer interns discussed Israel’s violations of both human rights and international law as authoritatively as I imagine the Palestinian Authority’s own foreign policy advisors would.

A typical Tuesday working in marketing usually provides a cocoon of sorts where I can wait until I’ve had the chance, at my leisure, to thoroughly read and process current events before forming and sharing my opinions. However, with all of today’s Middle East banter, I was forced to confront my own feelings right away. As I am no international legal scholar, I will try to keep my analysis of the matter somewhat brief.

It seems as follows: Israel implemented a blockade, which by the way, is legal. Intruders tried to break said blockade and Israel responded. As a result, force and violence were used and casualties ensued. Of course, this is an undoubtedly simplified account of events, but it is, in a nutshell, what happened. Following the break of this story, the international community proceeded in an uproar calling for a full investigation and condemnation of Israel’s actions. Such an investigation, as with all seemingly crucial matters of international law, is still pending.

After all of this reading, listening, discussing, and observing, I find myself compelled to address my classmate’s question: how DO I feel about Israel now? Well, the truth is I feel that Israel has been put, quite literally, in a position between a rock and a hard place; in a position between morality and survival. It is important to keep in mind that according to the Free Gaza Movement, the members of this “humanitarian flotilla” embarked on their journey with the intent of breaking Israel’s blockade. If you attempt to disguise militant intent as humanitarian aid and expect no proportionate militant response, you are foolish. It is amazing how some will cry “humanitarian” when their ulterior militant plots are exposed and foiled. As the international community explodes with rage and the world awaits a stance from the Obama administration on the events, Israel is left as it always is: apologizing for legal actions of self-defense and facing the judgment and hatred of a community that denies her very right to exist.

As a typical yuppie American, I often write about crises of identity, both professional and social. Yet following the weekend’s events, I am faced with a much deeper, much more consequential crisis of identity:

I am a Jewish American. Or am I an American Jew? I stand with Israel AND America. Or do I have to stand with Israel OR America? Thankfully, there have been relatively few times in my life that have forced me to ask these difficult questions or choose between the two components of my existence that are nearest and dearest to my heart. My stance on American relations with Israel has always been a more theoretical, esoteric discussion because I had the underlying belief that no matter what, America would always stand with Israel. Yet now, under a new administration, I have reason to question that underlying belief and contemplate the horrifying fear that my allegiances with both Israel and America might not always align.

I ultimately chose not to respond directly to the troubling Facebook message I received because I believe the discussion would be futile. After much introspection, I can confidently say that my feelings remain as they always have: I [proudly] stand with Israel. I can only hope America and the international community will do the same.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Times They Are A-Changin'

OK, so I probably couldn't have picked a more cliche title for this post. But honestly, what could be better than using a song known for its role in liberal propaganda to celebrate a conservative victory? And in Massachusetts, no less! While Obama may have promised change well over a year ago, I think it's finally here (although it may be slightly different from what he had in mind). I can't help but chuckle when I think of the fact that Ted Kennedy's vacant seat is going to be filled by a Republican. A real, live, anti-government run health care Republican. It's almost too good to be true.

I'm usually [not ALWAYS] thrilled to see a Republican win. This time, however, I am over the moon. Why? Because Scott Brown's victory tonight not only preserves the conservative values I hold dear, but more importantly, it preserves the bipartisan values this country holds dearer. How so? One word- filibuster. While many see the filibuster as a stall tactic that hinders Senate accomplishment and progress, it is a time-honored political practice that prevents some of the most potentially dangerous legislation from being passed.

A filibuster-proof Senate majority by either party is a very scary thing. The two-party political system, while certainly flawed, is an integral part of the preservation of certain inalienable American rights. Our freedom of speech and right to hold dissenting views are infinitely more valuable when those views can have an audible voice in government. The 60-seat majority in many ways silences those alternative voices. What Brown's election will ensure, above all, is a more level playing field and viable forum for political debate. That is the kind of change I can believe in.

I hope tonight's outcome was humbling for Martha "Chokeley" and for Obama- a last ditch media blitz can't compensate for a poorly run campaign or a poorly run executive branch. There are plenty of lessons to be learned.

Tonight was truly a victory for our entire country. We are now afforded the opportunity to closely examine the best way to tackle issues like health care rather than rushing to pass bills to meet artificial deadlines. We should celebrate the preservation of our legislative process and the opportunity that lies ahead.

Oh, and Demcorats? Watch Out- We're Baaccckkk!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tragedy, Legacy, & Memory

I recently returned from a trip to Egypt. As I wandered the Valley of the Kings, took pictures in front of the pyramids of Giza, and admired the Sphinx, I found myself breathless- amazed at the beauty and magnificence of what stood before me. However, what shocked me the most was that I felt no anger or resentment towards what I was seeing. It was hard to remember that my ancestors had been slaves in this very area for so many years. Their forced labor likely contributed to the phenomenal structures that stood before me and the prosperity of the greatest ancient civilization ever known. Each year at Passover, I faithfully utter words and participate in rituals designed to make me feel as if I personally was enslaved and redeemed. After approximately 44 seders in my lifetime, why did I find it so impossible to identify with this plight once I was actually there?

After much discussion with my family, we concluded that the reason we didn’t feel any anger or resentment was that we were simply too many generations removed from the slaves that it became so difficult to remember the vicious nature of this time of enslavement. I know the sight of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work Will Make You Free”) sign that guards Auschwitz would likely evoke a very different response.

This evening, the world lost Miep Gies, the office receptionist who hid Anne Frank and her family for over 25 months during World War II. Miep’s story became widely publicized with the publication of Anne Frank’s diary, but she represents a group of many heroic gentiles who risked their lives to save persecuted minorities during Hitler’s vicious reign. Many of these courageous stories still remain unknown. Following the end of the war, Gies continued to serve as an anti-genocide activist, who often confronted Holocaust deniers.

2010 marks 65 years since the end of the worst act of genocide ever known to man. The population of survivors, heroes, and eyewitnesses is rapidly decreasing. When I was in high school, each year on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) we would have a survivor come speak to us. During each assembly, my principal would remind us that we are the last generation that will ever meet survivors in person and with that, comes a tremendous obligation to serve as the next generation of testimony.

I feel connected in many ways to the Jews and other groups persecuted during the Holocaust. However, I can’t help but wonder: if we don’t take steps to preserve the legacy of what happened, will generations three thousand years from now forget? Will they feel about the Anne Frank’s of the world the way I feel about the Jewish slaves in ancient Egypt? Furthermore, even while we still have firsthand evidence and testimony before us, you can see signs of the world starting to repeat the tragedies of World War II. These signs can be found in the graves of the slaughtered Tutsis in Rwanda and deep in the Marrah Mountains in Darfur. If we are beginning to repeat our mistakes only 65 years later, one can only shudder when he thinks about where we will go from here.

We are, in many ways, a privileged generation- one who has been able to learn about a massive historical tragedy from those who unfortunately lived it. The primary sources we have before us, particularly in the form of firsthand accounts, are invaluable. It is our obligation to carry on the work of Miep Gies and others like her, lest we become so disconnected that our grandchildren will be unable relate to this atrocity.

I’d like to close this post with the words of Miep Gies in hopes that they will serve as a testament to her memory and an inspiration to us all.

I am not a hero. More than twenty thousand Dutch people helped to hide Jews and others in need of hiding during those years. I willingly did what I could to help. My husband did as well. It was not enough. There is nothing special about me. I have never wanted special attention. I was only willing to do what was asked of me and what seemed necessary at the time.”
- Prologue of Anne Frank Remembered. The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family

Monday, December 21, 2009

Older and Wiser...

As I sit down to write this, it dawns on me that tomorrow I will have been 23 for one full week (yes, this means you are late on your birthday wishes). Now, given my age, my quarterlife-crisis-meltdown might seem premature and quite frankly, unnecessary. Why was this birthday so much harder to accept than other birthdays?

I guess I’m beginning to wonder: where have the years gone? The number 23 scares me a bit- when you’re 21, or even 22, you’re classified as “college-age”. Certain things are acceptable: the weekday morning hangover(s), impulse concert ticket purchases or impromptu getaways, “drama” with friends, and watching reality shows like the Jersey Shore. But, for some reason in my mind, 23 seems different. You aren’t a student anymore; you’re a young adult.

Certain things seem to remind me of my new adult status:
1. You don’t qualify for student rates anymore (it’s not the money that matters, it’s the principal)
2. You’re not going “home” for the weekend; you’re going to “visit your parents”.
3. Most of the latest Real World cast is younger than you are.
4. You could date someone 5+ years younger than you, without breaking any laws.
5. People have switched to just putting the number-shaped candles on your birthday cake- it’s too expensive to buy enough candles to have one per year (and it’s probably a fire hazard too).

I know I’m not “old” by any means and I still have plenty I want to accomplish in life and hopefully plenty of time to do it. However, you spend your teens dreaming of what might be in the future. Now rather than goal-setting, my priorities are shifting towards goal-achieving. Turning 23 definitely marks the beginning of a new phase- a daunting assumption of responsibility in which I am no longer a “wide-eyed wanderer” (bonus points if you can identify the reference), but now expected to meticulously begin my trek down the path I have dreamed of forging for so many years. That revelation, in and of itself, might just be the source of my quarterlife crisis. However cliché it may sound, I need to remember that 23 is not an end- it is a mere addition to a long list of beginnings.

As I get ready to visit my parents, I find myself pondering childhood and all the years that led up to this one. In looking for a way to sum up my thoughts, I find that I keep coming back to some solid words from Kevin Arnold. While The Wonder Years is probably considered vintage at this point, and the fact that I quote it should probably be added to my list above, I still believe his words are nonetheless quite fitting.

“Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're in diapers, the next day you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place, a town, a house, like a lot of houses. A yard like a lot of other yards. On a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is, after all these years, I still look back...with wonder.”