Once again, we begin with a quick DISCLAIMER. I personally have never been diagnosed with any mental illness, nor have I ever been placed in a facility where said mental illness can be treated. The closest to it that I have is a mild case of Depression that only the miracle of Citalopram can tame, but otherwise I am largely unqualified to talk candidly about the subject despite the fact that there are several people in my family (including my parents) who are medical professionals. This is (largely) satirical, please keep the Thorazine to yourself.
That being said, if there’s any ONE thing in this world that I’m a fan of, it’s Classic Television. Since I work at night and I don’t have access to a DVR and/or Hulu account, and I only have Netflix for said “Classics”, the current Prime-Time landscape is virtually unknown to me–save for the few reports I read through various Trade publications (I.e. Variety, Deadline, etc.). So whenever I need a breather, I turn to the TV classics the same way a bibliophile turns to the works of Shakespeare. I especially enjoy the up-and-coming “Digital” channels that the networks have that plays classics 24/7; places like MeTV, NBC’s “COZI-TV”, CBS’ “Decades”, ABC’s “Laff”, FOX’s “Heroes & Icons” (among other Digitals they have…including for Game Shows), and so forth. What’s more; as much as I enjoy Classic TV, I’m a BIG fan of Classic Advertising. This was back in the day where all you had to do was either show a product, show a product with a catchy slogan, show a product with a catchy jingle, or something seemingly mundane by today’s standards that still convinced people to buy the product in question. You don’t see advertising like that anymore, partly because–as is the way in life back then–Steve Jobs had to make things difficult for us…but I digress.
I was recently going through a Youtube Binge of some of these Classic Commercials when I came across something I thought I had buried in my subconscious for years…and I’d like to share it with you here (sing along if you know the words):
Anyway, When you’re a kid and you watch this commercial, you think “Cool, a commercial for Candy!” And even when you get older and watch it again, you think “Wow! What a Nostalgia Grenade!” Unfortunately, given the age we live in–the “Youtube Generation”, if you will–more often than not, you will come across some inevitable cynicism…and on RARE occasions, you’ll even find the kind of cynicism that makes you say “Hey, wait a minute…I never thought of it this way before”. Upon looking at the comments for this video, and a bunch of other versions of it, I noticed that some people made the observation of just how ridiculous it would be if the Point Of View of the average man/woman/child would be nothing but Tootsie Rolls as far as the eye could see. But then, I actually LISTENED to the lyrics of the jingle again, and slowly I began to realize that this wasn’t just a commercial for candy……it was a subliminal PSA for having Dementia (or so the cynics would have me believe).
Don’t believe me/them? Let’s break down the lyrics and the visuals line by line…
“The World looks mighty good to me…’cause ‘Tootsie Rolls’ are ALL I see…”
Right at the beginning, it’s a declaration that all you’re seeing in your immediate surroundings are suddenly transforming into Tootsie Rolls. Off the bat, we see that Trees and the Roofs of random houses have gone through the sudden transformation, therefore marking a dark day for the Lumber & Masonry industry (forgot to mention that chimneys were replaced as well)…
“…Whatever it is I think I see, becomes a ‘Tootsie Roll’ to me…”
At this point, a speeding train and a skywriting plane make the transformation, confounding and baffling various mission control centers at the FAA & the NTSB who can only assume that the passengers got out safely from their respective vehicles by eating their way out…
“Tootsie Roll, how I want your Chocolaty Chew…”
A White whale has now taken the shape of a Tootsie Roll, and is Still able to Squirt out of its blowhole, clearly whoever is envisioning this is now pretending to play God. or has a God complex that’s trying to get out and wage a vengeful wrath in retaliation for being picked on as a kid for his/her lunch money.
“Tootsie Roll, I think I’m in Love with you!”
This line and the previous line exhibits a certain kind of lustfulness that’s reserved for people who suffer from Objectophilia (Oh yes, it’s REAL!). Just look at the kid of unspecific gender with Crazy hair on the beach eating it, his/her leg is up in the air as s/he is biting into it. WHO ACTS LIKE THAT WHEN THEY EAT SOMETHING (aside from This person)?!?! As the line is being said, a Girl hits a baseball with a Bat that transforms into…you guessed it…another Tootsie Roll. and if that girl is in love with Tootsie Roll as she’s using it to swing at a ball, it might as well be the same as saying “I’m Not Going to be IGNORED, Tootsie Roll!” (or so I would assume).
(REPEAT) “…Whatever it is I think I see, becomes a ‘Tootsie Roll’ to me…”
As the commercial ends, the “Ball” that the girl hits whizzes by and countless other items are quickly transformed into the chocolate flavored Lincoln logs (OK, that may be too cruel, they’ve always tasted good–even the seldom advertised fruit flavored ones–but when you get a Hard one that almost breaks your teeth, you have to wonder if John Lloyd Wright–Frank’s son–made that batch of candy instead). We then cut to a shot of the Tootsie Roll in its natural habitat and end on a rather condescending slogan “Umm…It’s From Tootsie Roll”. If you’re old enough to remember the movie/song “Valley Girl”, try to picture that same slogan being said in Moon Unit Zappa’s voice and the illusion will be complete.
So, after all of that, DOES the Tootsie Roll commercial double as a PSA for Mental Illness? Probably not, I highly doubt that’s what the intention was of both the Jingle Writers and the Animators of the ad and like some rational people do, I’m probably reading WAY too much into this. But considering just how cynical people can get these days whenever they feel the urge to take down something seemingly innocuous as an innocent TV commercial, it kinda makes you wonder what Other hidden messages are there in commercials? Was “Where’s the Beef” meant to be a Sexual innuendo? Is the “Maxwell House” perking coffee kettle meant to be morse code? Is “Don’t hate me Because I’m Beautiful” a form of Reverse Psychology? Who knows! Advertising is probably one of the most invasive branches of media; one way or another, the message will get out there…the question is really more of how the message is interpreted. If everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) you see in your point-of-view looks like a certain piece of candy, either you need to consider getting an MRI, or the advertising works a lot better than one could hope.