'Green Police': Green Theft Comedy

My favorite Super Bowl commercial had to be the "Green Police" ad. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy half naked women, anthropomorphic animals, and flatulence just as much as the next guy; but the "Green Police" ad struck me hard, right in the satire-bone.

It’s what us “deniers” have been warning about for at least twenty years: those who will sacrifice a little Liberty for a cleaner environment will eventually live in a dirty prison. It might defy Leftist logic, but private property is incompatible with environmental laws; Socialist Utopias aren't known for their sparkling environmental records; and some of the filthiest places in America begin with the word, “public.”

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So it is with great delight that I watched a German automaker, poke fun at the environmental fascism that America is embracing without trepidation. I thought to myself that only German experience could write such an ad.

Unfortunately, my humor was tempered a little, because I could have sworn I had seen it all before. Sure enough, there was a short film, with a remarkably similar premise made by American filmmaker Adam McKay a few years back. Co-starrring in the piece was Will Ferell, in a clip so funny, that you could almost forget “Land of the Lost.” Rounding out the trio is "Stepbrother’s" and "Talladega Nights" co-star John C. Reilly.

The message is clear: Environmentalism can be dangerous. I remember, this came as a surprise to me, since Adam is an unapologetic liberal, who was one of the first proud Prius drivers in Hollywood. Of course, living in a culture where Green is treated more seriously than religion, should chafe the consciousness of any truly committed liberal.

The McKay piece is edgier and funnier, and didn’t have the budget to buy Cheap Trick, a pollution sniffing aardvark, or some white Segways; but it is obviously the inspiration for the spot. According to McKay’s Twitter feed (in a discussion with Big Hollywood blogger Mike Wilson) he knows they ripped him off, and like a pro who understands the compliment of imitation, he is completely nonplussed.

In comedy we have a rule, that jokes are personal property, and “borrowing” from other comics is more rightfully called “thievery.” Those who borrow promiscuously are unaffectionately referred to as a "hack.” In many cases a comic’s material is the only asset he ever owns, so it is often guarded with the preciosity of a homeless shopping cart.

Yet in advertizing, no such stigma exists It is not uncommon for a group of copywriters to visit a comedy club together, notepads in tow, for a brainstorming session. Advertisers also borrow liberally from each other. When one client uses a talking dog to pitch a taco, every other copywriter starts working on a talking dog ad.

This is how a meme is introduced into the national Zeitgeist. I doubt that anybody receives a necktie for Father’s Day anymore, but I’m sure it’s still the number-one answer on "Family Feud." Thousands of Father’s Day commercials show Dad dreaming of a chainsaw or motorcycle as he opens his tie, and now everyone assumes it is the worst possible gift.

I can only hope that someday, the warning in “Green Police,” becomes just as stale.

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