Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A memorandum

To: All Christmas advertisers

From: Tone Deaf Company

Re: All of our souls

To whom it may concern,

For the love of God, please stop using the iconic images of our holiday celebrations, whether they be old or new, in your awful attempts to sell your stupid products. It just hurts. It hurts us, and it hurts you. So let's never do this or this again.

Thank you. And happy holidays.


PS: We're back.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pay Per Link

New Yorker article on attempts by big broadband companies to institute "tiered access" for online browsing

For too long, the internet has tried to get us to think that the sites offered by regular, non-paying entities (like people) are just as valuable as those offered by warm, loving corporations. Finally, Congress is going to step up and remind us of the important truism that AT&T Knows Best. We weren't that used to have to think of the internet as being a free-for-all of ideas that allows all different views to be exposed. And if we were, we'll get over it lickety-quick. I mean, who would want to go to Wikipedia when you could check out Microsoft's glorious Encarta online?

This just goes to prove what I've always said: the internet hates freedom.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Leonardo DiCaprio's Star Wars collection

It seems Leonardo DiCaprio has decided to liquidate his Star Wars collection. I realize this post is off topic, but I don' t care.

Check out this impressive collection.

Friday, March 10, 2006

"That was just a game, Centauri!"

Lara Craft: Tomb Raider. Resident Evil. Wing Commander. Doom. In the past few years, a whole cottage industry has developed in the movie business of turning video games into movies. And the results, pretty much entirely across the board, are awful. Sure, there have been bad video game movies for a while (Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, etc). But as executives realize that video games are here to stay, and that the people who grew up playing games in the 80s continue to engage them, companies have been pouring more time and money into video game movies.

The question is: why are they so goddamn stupid? People who play video games don't want to see the story that they played through in the game up on the big screen - we already saw that story, and it was more fun the first time when we had an active role in it. If these companies had any sort of sense, they would realize what gamers want to see: movies about people who play video games getting sucked up into real life variations on the action.

It seems so fucking simple. What was so awesome about the first Matrix movie? It made hackers, computer geeks, and anyone disaffected by modern society to think, "Holy crap...that could be me." Well, that's what gamers want to see. "Hey, that dude plays video games like me...and look, he's flying a spaceship now! He's actually doing spy missions! That's awesome. I'm seeing this movie at least ten times in the theaters." All you need to do is look back to the halcyon days of 1983-1984 and see three examples of movies that totally fucking worked because of this conceit:

WarGames - kid uses 8 inch floppy disks and pre-Prodigy dial-up connection to hack into the NORAD computer and almost starts World War III. Computer gamer playing war simulation --> real life war situation. Movie is awesome. Everyone aged 25-34 knows it. (Bonus: Pre-Ferris Broderick; in-her-prime Ally Sheedy; the two computer nerds who talk about "the back door"; "wouldn't you like to play a nice game of chess?"; the irrascible Dabney Coleman.)

Cloak & Dagger - kid plays Atari games all the time; ends up with an Atari cartridge that contains top-secret data; must navigate through perilous situations with his imaginary superspy friend to stop total disaster. Atari gamer playing spy games --> real life spy situation. Movie is awesome. Everyone aged 25-34 who remembers it loves it. (Bonus: Post-E.T. Henry Thomas; the three-fingered woman; the Alamo; the extremely depressing subplot of Davey's imaginary superspy friend being the same actor as his absentee dad; the irrascible Dabney Coleman, in TWO roles.)

The Last Starfighter - plotwise, probably the best of the bunch. Teenager in Trailer Park Town, Nowheresville, Midwest, is a master at a spaceship arcade game. Crazy alien in a car comes down, tells him game was a training simulator for actual space fighting. Teenager ends up flying an X-Wing knockoff in a huge space battle. Arcade gamer playing space fighting game --> real life space fighting situation. Movie is awesome. Everyone aged 25-34 who has seen the movie speaks of it with a gleam in their eye, remember when they wished they too could have been swept up into a giant space battle. (Bonus: The Music Man in the Obi-Wan role; the running subplot of the robot Alex who has to stay behind in the trailer park and pretend he's regular Alex; the sort-of-cheesy-but-still-sort-of-awesome Tron-esque special effects. Unfortunately, no Dabney Coleman.)

Think about it. If Hollywood remade any of these movies (or at least lifted the concept from them), they'd make a fucking killing. Maybe they could do a movie about a MMORPG player who gets sucked into a fantasy world like Norrath or Azeroth. Or how about someone who loves Splinter Cell-type games, and ends up being recruited by the miltiary to run covert-ops on a top-secret mission? Maybe a criminal organization starts recruiting gamers who are stellar at causing mayhem in Grand Theft Auto. If done well, a movie like this could become the new Matrix. And if it's just some little piece of still has a better chance of capturing the imagination of the gamer audience than some shitty Uwe Boll movie.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

From the annals of Tone Deaf history: Johnny Turbo

Do you know about Johnny Turbo? If not, it's time to educate yourself boy. Johnny Turbo is among the most shittiest tone deafiest ad capaigns ever targeted at a video-game playing public. Basically, it's a rediculous attempt by the Turbografix 16 people to discredit Sega's vastly more successful Genesis system through the use of an obese, mal-adjusted cartoon character and his ambiguously gay Tucker-Carson-Lookalike sidekick. Yeah. For real.

You can read the original comic strips, as they appeared in gaming magazines in the early 90s, here, along with a profane, and highly amusing running commentary.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Finger lickin' stupid

There's a new KFC ad out on TV. Thankfully, it does not involve an animated, jive-talkin', hip-hop (or "hip and happening" as USA Today apparently described it) Col. Sanders. Those days are gone. But I couldn't find an image of the new ad, so you get to be reminded of those. Call it the ghost of stupid ads past.

Anyway, this new ad goes something like this: a mother brings home a bucket of greasy, poorly prepared "chicken" from a KFC. She puts it on the table as the husband hovers around, probably waiting to talk about his golf game or how she never shows him enough physical affection anymore. The mother calls up to the kids that they need to come downstairs for dinner. The kids bomb downstairs, out the door, and into the car. The mother looks at the father and says something like, "Well, they'll have to get used to eating in," as they show one of the kids (who looks to be around 8 and already 30 pounds overweight) scrambling to get his seatbelt on.

So...apparently...this family only eats out. All the time. To the degree that their mindless children have the Pavlovian response of running out to the car for dinner. It isn't even like they say, "Get ready for KFC"...which still wouldn't make sense, because, correct me if I'm wrong, KFC has been a take-out place for its entire existence. And I love that the kid they emphasize is fat. Are they trying to corner the market on fat kids? That's probably a good move...they eat a lot and there's a hell of a lot of them in America.

What exactly are they trying to advertise here? That you can bring KFC food home now? Or are we to believe that this family used to go out to regular restaurants every night, and now they're cutting costs and staying classy by getting KFC instead? Why don't you buy a fucking breast of chicken and drop it in the oven? Maybe your butterball of a kid won't need an angioplasty before he's twenty.

(And, in honor of Mr. Shannon, here's a page about KFC wrongdoings that go beyond being utterly tone deaf.)

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Loyal Readers:

Now that I've lured you in with this picture of an adorable baby, let us get down to brass tacks. I heareby invite you all to nominate you're own:


Here's your chance to pretent you're one of the SELECT FEW who get to contribute to this HIGHLY SELECTIVE news service. One such entry will be SELECTED and be deemed a winner of the TONE DEAF COMPANY ("TDC") Reader Contribution Award. You're prize will be a free lifetime subscription to this web service. This entitlement will become increasingly valuable (as the subscription costs for TDC are projected to rise exponentially over the next few years). This prize could be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars, assuming certain variables align in the proper manner and etc. etc.

Thank you.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Sports figures can be very effective spokespeople in ads. They're well known and lots of people like them just because of the laundry they wear a few times a week. And of course when you sign an athlete up to be in your ads, you, as a company, have to recognize that the audience's reaction to said ads will vary depending on the ups and downs of any given athlete's season.

But for the love of God...can someone stay awake at the switch and use their common sense when booking broadcasting time for such ads? If something traumatic has happened to a team's fanbase, using a spokesman from said team can just lead to resentment and hatred. How do you think Philadelphia Eagles fans felt when they spent the last eight weeks of the season watching Campbell's Chunky Soup ads with Donovon McNabb over and over and over again during every football telecast, knowing that he was chilling somewhere recuperating from season ending surgery. I bet that people from Philly never found the "It's from New England? Well I like it anyway" line to be that funny; after their season went down the tubes, it was about 30 million times less funny. Do you think they're running right out to get some Vegetarian Vegetable to go with their hoagies tonight? Probably not.

Similar instances:

-The day after the Patriots crash out of the playoffs against the Broncos, there were repeated airings of the incredibly lame and moronic Diet Pepsi Machine ads (featuring random members of the Patriots) and the actually-pretty-humorous-but-still-ill-timed Tom Brady Visa ad. We'd be much more receptive to your pitch about the different levels of Visa protection if you hadn't spent the night before skipping passes and lobbing INTs.

-The painful, daily drilling of the locally produced Kevin Millar KFC ads during the stretch of the 2004 Red Sox season when he couldn't buy a hit if he was a millionaire at a Cheech 'n Chong film fest. I'd watch Millar ground out weakly to the shortstop and then be subjected to him in a dingy KFC wearing a shirt that made him look like a date rapist talking about how his fast food fried chicken needed red socks. If there weren't already a thousand reasons to hate KFC, I would have grown to hate it just by having to deal with the agony of these ads every single game.

-After Peyton Manning choked huge time Saturday, Colts fans were treated with this little gem from MasterCard: Not Perfect. Yeah, that's a good way of shoring up the customer loyalty of the Manning fanbase...openly mock a dude for falling apart in the playoffs yet again.

(Unless...unless this was meant to shore up the anti-Manning audience, which might be bigger than the pro-Manning one. The jury is still out, but this may be my first example of a Perfect Pitch Company.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Screwed-You-Again Edition

If you're like me, you tend to conduct your holiday shopping by buying things for other people that you yourself would like. Some call this selfish and/or self-centered...I prefer to think of it as making informed purchases. If you are further like me, you tend to lean heavily on DVDs as a staple, a solid foundation on which you can build your gift edifice. While doing so, you may have noticed a disturbing trend in DVDs. Note:

Tommy Boy - Holy Schnike Edition

Airplane - The "Don't Call Me Shirley" Edition

Office Space - Special Edition with Flair!

What the hell is this crap? Why does every DVD release have to have a stupid "edition" name that refers to one of the lines of the movie attached to it? Are we supposed to look at the box and say, "Oh, yeah, I remember when that guy said 'Don't call me Shirley'...sure, I'll buy this"? I can't wait for this trend to continue. The "Offer He Can't Refuse" Edition of The Godfather. The "Here's Johnny!" Edition of The Shining. Chinatown: The "She's My Sister AND My Daughter!" Edition. Raging Bull: Special 30th Anniversary "You Fuck My Wife?" Edition.

Or, wait, maybe they have to put stupid names on these to let you know that these are new releases of these movies, tacking on some unnecessary and likely hastily put together extras to make up for the fact that in the nascent days of the medium they rushed out crappy transfers of these movies. It's almost as if the studios are drawing attention to the fact that, just as record companies botched the initial pressings of CDs, they screwed over consumers with the first run of DVDs. They may as well call any of these The "Remember When You Paid $25 For A Shitty Version? Well Pony Up Again, Sucker" Edition.

Friday, January 06, 2006


I was amused by McDonald's new ads for their arch card. The ad goes something like this:

"Buy our overpriced Chicken Selects, and you get a McDonald's ARCH CARD! LOADED with A DOLLAR!" This card, apparently, is not only good for purchasing McDonlds, but it's also, somehow, important to having good times.

Well, anyway, I wasn't too impressed with the prospect of getting an arch card LOADED!, with A DOLLAR!, and I was a little put off by the whole ad campaign, so I went on Micky Dee's website. What I found there is funnier than any TV ad. This company, my friends, is the epitome of Tone Deaf.

They've established separate web pages for black people called "365 Black." There's also a web-site with the catchy name "i am asian." To round out the minority baiting, they've got "Lomxomo" to appeal to the hispanic crowd. Companies need to learn that people see right through this sort of targeted marketing. It's clearly comittee-driven, focus-grouped slop that doesn't resonate with anyone. Looking at these web pages, it's all I can do to imagine the boardroom meeting of portly, cynical white men that precipitated these sites.