Airbrushed 80s celebrities lipsynching on a virtual beach? Yes: it’s the best worst ad ever
The history of the above video – which I think you’ll agree is astoundingly wonderful in many ways – is surprisingly banal. It was created as a promotional tool for the fourth season of Golden Times, a Norwegian television show in which the youngish hosts visit stars they liked as kids.
Now, that may factually explain the presence of a disturbingly huge number of famous people starring in what looks like a VHS recruitment tape for Scientology circa 1987. But what makes the video truly awesome goes deeper. It’s not just because it puts Katarina Witt on the same virtual beach with a chavved-up Tonya Harding – watch out, Katarina! – or because of the sad spectacle of Glenn Close, Judd Nelson and Kathleen Turner trying not to look like they want to die. Not even because of the co-presence of Steve Guttenberg, Right Said Fred, Daryl Hannah, Mickey Rourke or my personal favourite (well, except for Tonya Harding), the one and only Dolph “Drago He-Man Scorpion” Lundgren. Nor, finally, is it the Ozymandian moral that you can be on top of the world drinking champagne from actresses’ slippers one heady day, and clasping your hands in phony expressiveness (I’m looking at you, Jason Alexander) on an airbrushed seashore with Boyzone, Theo Cosby, part of Twisted Sister and Bud from Married With Children the next.
No, the real icing on the cake for me is that this is actually an ad. Can you imagine the amount of money an agency would have to spend to hire all 60-odd of these actors and singers to promote a product? Their combined cultural cachet for a generation that grew up steeped in irony would have been pretty much off the scale even BEFORE you slapped them on a greenscreen and had them lipsynch along to a truly awful rendition of Let It Be, already the worst karaoke song known to human history. I mean, Milli Vanilli lipsynching! You couldn’t make this up! It’s the yacht rock of advertising. You could immediately make a zillion dollars if you turned it into an ad for a clothing company, or a restaurant chain, or pretty much anything. Instead, it’s for a Norwegian talkshow, and it was stupid enough to use a Beatles song, thus predictably attracting the lawyers at Sony/ATV, who cut it short before it could go viral. Meaning its authenticity quotient for early thirtysomethings is even HIGHER.
The best ad in the world, in other words, is also the worst ad in the world. Look on this work, ye mighty, and despair.