BETTER DEAD THAN RED?
Rob Walker is, to put it somewhat mildly, not all that fond of Carrot Top or, most especially, has ads for AT&T:
The ads are never actually funny. Nor is Carrot Top, so far as I know. I’ve spent some time combing the Web looking for evidence of the Carrot Top fan base. Interviews suggest that he is popular on college campuses. He also works in Vegas. Although there’s no prop humor in the AT&T spots, much of what he does is prop-based. One example that comes up a lot is a plate for bulimics, which is attached to a miniature toilet. Another is a purse for prostitutes, which has a built in credit-card machine.
Is this really what the college students of America find funny? That group is supposedly a key market for collect calls; AT&T says its primary target is the 18- to 24-year-old age group, with 12- to 17-year-olds as the secondary target. (Another group that makes a lot of collect calls is prisoners, but that’s another story.) But I am too optimistic to believe that tomorrow’s leaders find authentic humor in Carrot Top’s act, so I can only conclude that something more subtle is going on. Spokespeople for collect-call services tend to be either babes (Jamie Pressly, Alyssa Milano) or absurd (Mr. T). Babes make sense (for about half the audience, anyway) for obvious reasons. The absurd choicesÃ¢€”and this would include Carrot TopÃ¢€”must appeal to the budding ironist.
The ironic part?
Perhaps the real message of his work, then, is a critique that makes a mockery not just of the entertainment industry, but of the very notion of meritocracy in AmericaÃ¢€”his success being the most damning evidence to date that the marketplace of talent is a sham. If so, the AT&T ads are the most irrefutable brief yet in this project to illuminate the maddening power of raw chance in the modern game of getting ahead because their star is not just singularly unfunny, but authentically grating. You want to take a stick to Carrot, but, truly, you cannot beat him.
Heh. Maybe Carrot Top is a partial refutation of last night’s post.
Update (2102): Apparently, Carrot Top has certain, um, extracurricular hobbies.