The Worst Commercial Ever Made: Chevy Silverado

In this commercial, a man is asked which house is his. He says, "The one with the Silverado out front." So far, there's no real problem here. A Silverado is a pretty singular marker -- I don't see a lot of people driving them, and can't imagine why anyone would -- and a good way to identify something as distinct from other things, like "the woman with the hairy goiter" or "the dog with the huge balls, you know the one I mean."

Then, friendlily enough, the interrogator asks, "What do you do?" The man -- our hero -- says, "Well," and seems on the verge of answering the question like not-an-asshole. At which point, the commercial smash-cuts to a montage of the man doing the following things: Swimming; pulling dirt bikes with his truck; driving his family and singing; playing paintball; wearing a hardhat and throwing lumber in the back of the truck; fishing; chopping a log; washing his hands with a hose; loading the back of his truck with hay; playing chess with an old guy; pulling a boat; lighting a barbecue; and having dinner with his wife, who is giving him the googly-eyes. Then, he says, "Ayyyyye," trails off, furrows his brows, and looks down, discouraged, overwhelmed by the glut of possibilities. Then, Tim Allen tells us something about how manly and efficient the Chevy Silverado is, and then the anti-actor who plays the jock on Numb3rs gives you some specifics about a sale because his rate per hour in the recording booth is way more reasonable than Tim Allen's, and finally Tim Allen comes back and there's something about "From work site to home front, Chevy runs deep," which if you think about it doesn't make any sense at all. Does Chevy burrow under the ground to get from one of those things to the other? Is Chevy an underground river, and is the entire neighborhood going to collapse into it when it erodes the cave ceiling?

Ok, so ultimately the message the commercial is trying to convey is the ol' 'Merkin corporate standby, "If you buy our product you're a rugged individual who, like Thoreau, cannot be bound up by definitions or constrained by the strictures of society. And like Whitman, you contain multitudes. You're not like everybody else, everybody else being sheep and ciphers." In this, the commercial is only as egregiously awful as just about every other commercial ever made. It becomes uniquely terrible in trying to be specific about the unique multiplicity of the asshole -- our hero -- in question.

A couple of points. First, the two men are at a children's party. The interrogator is drinking out of a clear kitchen cup; the Silverado doucher is drinking out of a blue flippie-cup. So he's probably wasted in the middle of the afternoon at a kid's birthday party, so fuck that guy.

Second, no American of average-or-better intelligence doesn't know that when someone asks "What do you do?" the question is actually shorthand for "how do you make money, what do you do for a living, please don't walk me through a list of all the things you actually do with your life like walk, eat, breathe, drink water, and smirk at your own cleverness." This last, you will have noticed, is exactly the function of the montage.

It seems to me there are three options here: First, the man is unemployed, and so he's trying to come up with a way to answer the question that doesn't cause him public humiliation, exacerbated by the fact that he's just moved into a bougey new suburb and owns a brand new truck; second, he doesn't understand the utilitarian function of the question "what do you do" and thinks it is an open, metaphysical question -- "what do you really do, y'know?" -- and is therefore the kind of person I can't imagine anyone enjoying to be around; and third, that he understands perfectly well what the question implies, but smugly thinks that his job, his career, the source of his income, doesn't encompass his identity, so the question insults his personal special-snowflakeness, and he is therefore the kind of person I can't imagine anyone enjoying to be around.

For the sake of argument, we'll assume he has a job, and are left with options 2 and 3. Based on the list of options presented by the montage, there are two new options: 1) he is a construction worker (loading lumber), or 2) he works in some agro-business or livestock capacity (loading hay). He is not, that is to say, in all likelihood a professional swimmer, a professional dirt bike rider, professional chauffer for his own family, a professional paintball player, a professional fisherman, a professional lumberjack who specializes in splitting a single log at a time by hand, a professional hand-washer, a chess grandmaster, a barbecue chef, or a kept man. Why, then, he doesn't simply answer that he is either a) a construction worker or b) in agro-business in some capacity isn't easy to say without making him look like a terrible, terrible person.

Let's also remember that the man is new to the neighborhood -- his house still has the "sold" sign out front. He's making a first impression at somebody else's party in this back-and-forth. And it actually flashes through his mind to say, "Well, sometimes I eat dinner with my wife and then I probably fuck her based on the look she's giving me," and, "I play chess with an old guy," and, "Me and my asshole friends won a paintball tournament and then we got all rowdy about it, it was sweet." He thinks about saying "I own a boat and some dirt bikes and I pull them with my truck." This is an infant who, when you ask him his name, tells you that he's Adam and he's five-and-a-half and he has 112 Pokemon cards exactly wrapped up in a rubber band want to see them? This is the waitress-who-says-she-is-an-actress elevated to the nth degree, and made even worse by the fact that this guy doesn't define himself by an aspiration, a goal to someday reach, but by perfectly trivial day-to-day activities that nobody outside of his little clan of mouth-breathers could possibly give a shit about.

But the worst part about this commercial, to me, is the implication that this guy, who does all this trivial shit, is inherently deeper than the other guy, who is a fucking schlub, too, obviously. The other guy probably drives, like, a Honda Camry or a Ford Accord or something, and is just as entrenched in the breeding, nose-wiping middle-class as Silverado Man. He has enough disposable income to have a cute little montage of his own where he, I dunno, sits in an expensive La-Z-Boy and drinks brandy out of a crystal snifter and hits an expensive golf ball with an expensive golf club and goes to a jazz concert and slaps his daughter for back-talking and blindfolds his wife after they come up with a safe-word. All of this is possible. But it's not necessary. You know why? Because as awful as this man no doubt is -- the commercial invites us to disdain him, so we might as well play by its rules -- he doesn't need this montage. Because when somebody asks him what he does, he says "I'm an accountant" or "I'm a pharmacist" or "I run numbers for the mafia." And he does this because he is, against all odds, the less awful man in this awful, awful commercial: The Worst Commercial Ever Made.