During the Oscars, I joked that Neal McDonough is better in the ad below than most actors are in anything, ever. I cheered it several times during the evening’s broadcast. I did so because this ad is awesome.
McDonough is, of course, perfect in it. But I love everything about it. I love the framing. I love the pacing. I love the casual dismissal of the moon.* Most of all, I love the unironic “America, Fuck Yeah” attitude that oozes from every frame. Europe takes whole months off because Europe doesn’t care enough. America works all the time as hard as she can. And that’s why America wins.
I do think it’s worth clearing up one small thing: A few people have suggested that the ad is a celebration of material accumulation, of America’s own domestic form of decadence. This strikes me as an inaccurate reading. As McDonough says at the beginning of the ad, standing in a massive backyard before an opulent pool: “Why do we work so hard? For what? For this? For stuff?” The answer, it seems to me, is a resounding “No!” “We’re crazy driven hard working believers!” he says. We went to the moon and got bored so we came home. We might go back—if we’re bored at home. We’re Americans: We do things hard and fast and best.
The stuff? That’s just the natural result of our hard work. We don’t do it hard and fast and best for “stuff.” The stuff is a byproduct. And if that “stuff” happens to be pretty fantastic?
Well, to the winner goes the spoils.
*It reminds me of my favorite 30 Rock line: Buzz Aldrin screaming up at the moon, “I walked on your face!”