Pop Xulture Newsletter # 12
Focusing on Dr. Rick’s Progressive Ads. 3/1/23
Welcome to another amazing newsletter. Yesterday marks a year since I first started publishing this newsletter. Thanks for those who have been along since the beginning and those who have recently subscribed!
Since last we “spoke” my writing juices have been flowing (is that grey matter leaking from my ears?). I’ve been writing a ton lately, but as of now I don’t have a lot to show for it (so why mention it, you ask). Well, I’ll have an article on Good Night Oppy exclusively for you in a week or two.
Today Christ and Pop Culture (CAPC) published the first article in my thirtieth anniversary celebration of films from 1993. Yet another concisely titled piece called: “1993 Film Favorites, Part 1: The Technology and Ethics of Jurassic Park” starts off the series.
I reenacted a scene from Jurassic Park in my modestly comical Instagram video here. The video briefly explains the article is about how the technology of Jurassic Park influenced the future in two major ways. And how those technologies influenced areas of ethics. But the video doesn’t tell you there’s also some lighter fare with trivia, why Spielberg made some decisions, and a hat tip to John William’s epic score.
A couple weeks ago my wife was making breakfast as I washed the dishes and she randomly started rattling off spoken word poetry. She is an elementary school librarian and had been reading Yesterday I Had the Blues to her classes. I borrowed the book and loved it! It seemed fitting that I write about it for Black History Month (it’ll be published a little late) and as a cherry on top, this year marks the book’s twentieth anniversary. Look forward to my article tentatively titled: “Yesterday I Had the Blues: Colorful Emotions & The Black Community’s Hopeful Tomorrow.”
Lastly, my friend Kristin Saatzer just had her book Hear the Savior: Readings for Lent and Easter Based on the Words of Jesus published. I was honored to write an endorsement and highly recommend it. Although practical all year long, as the title states, the devotional is intended to be read around Lent and Resurrection Day. So now is the time to buy!
When CAPC crunched the numbers on most read articles of 2022 my piece titled “Why Are Dr. Rick's Progressive Ads Actually Traditional Comedy?” came in at number seven. I got the idea for the article after seeing a handful of the Progressive ads that I actually enjoyed and thought about how rare that is for commercials. Per the usual, the Exclusive below is from an early draft and I found it interesting that I mentioned writing this article in my very first newsletter (one year ago!) but said I was planning on using the biblical story of Jonah – which didn’t happen.
Normally I use this space to set up why this next portion was cut, but the article turned out to be tough to write so I have a lot of unused bits. Because of that I’m going to give explanations around what I wrote so you know the originally intended layout. I encourage you to read the published article so this mix of content and context helps you understand how it changed. Here it is:
Original Intro, Selling Greed, and Inappropriate Humor
The idea of “keeping you from becoming your parents,” could be offensive or condescending, but Progressive rides the line perfectly. It’s not that we dislike our parents, but every kid since Cain and Abel, has been embarrassed by their parents. The balance is that Dr. Rick has permission and expertise in telling our parents all the things we’ve told our parents (with absolutely no change) or wanted to tell them. We also don’t think to ask why “older” Dr. Rick is cool and self-aware or how he broke the mold of being an embarrassing parent. (Dad joke: maybe the company is just being Progressive).
[The first section was going to be about Dr. Rick’s writing, directing, and casting. Those topics ended up being broken out into their own sections. Next was going to be a section called “Why Other Ads Aren’t Funny” where I ranted on the failures of other insurance commercials. I’ll spare you. I wasn’t sure where to stick it but I speech-to-texted the following on a walk.]
[Selling Me Greed]
I don’t think I’m alone in despising a suave male voice telling me I want wealth and power and luxury (I really, really don’t) just to find I’m being sold a ridiculously expensive car that I really, really don’t want and can’t afford. Or being puzzled watching gaunt and gangly models meander through a zoo to learn I’m being sold perfume I can’t pronounce. These type of commercials aren’t meant to be hilarious but I cynically find them funnier than the ones attempting comedy.
[Lastly, I was going to talk about the different meanings behind “inappropriate humor,” and I had very loose idea to tie in history of the Christian religion subduing comedy.]
The biggest observation to be milked is that people with an “elderly mindset” are inappropriate. When we say “inappropriate humor” there is a large spectrum of what people are comfortable with, but discomfort usually stems from social norms or belief systems. Two people may enjoy “bathroom” humor and despise “raunchy, R-rated” jokes, but for a mixture of wildly different reasons. So, when a blue-haired guy walks by and Dr. Rick says, “We all see it,” the connotation is social etiquette demands that if you must judge, at least don’t verbalize it.
[This was going to lead into something around Jesus’ don’t judge unless you want to be judged quote and National Geographic’s “A Most Precise and Nuanced Look into the Life of the Man, Legend and Visionary Martin Luther,” among other things.]
[END EXCLUSIVE ARTICLE CONTENT]
I’ll start working on my next 1993 article shortly. The plan is to do So I Married an Axe Murderer and then probably Schindler’s List. But if you want me to start a different one sooner, just leave a comment. And I’d appreciate any insights you have on those or any other movies from that year. Thanks for reading through this newsletter and be sure to share it with friends!
Thanks, in Him,
-Chris (the Bearded Wonder) Fogle