Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Paris Journal XIII: Voix Douce

American radio and television commercials have a rendezvous with reality. It’s as if they’re stuck in the Ashcan School of art. Even advertisements for Charmin toilet paper or feminine hygiene products designed to prevent embarrassment on heavy days, or Cialis for men, created to prevent embarrassment on soft ones, have a guttural appeal. It’s as if the advertising were based solely on the principal of identification. Naturally, all advertising also functions as idealization, but how do you idealize the adult diaper or the ambulance-chasing law firm that will win you millions after a neuro-surgeon operates on the wrong side of your brain? But  if American advertising is marooned in the world of stark reality—with lingerie ads for plus-size women that make them look like paratroopers about to make a jump—then the Twilight Zone of French advertising is a combination of the romantic pre-Raphaelite world of Millais and the painting of academics like Poussin, with their classic figures in sylvan settings. There is nothing like the female voix on a French voiceover. Listen carefully and you will fall in love with her, or at least the Trojans she is trying to sell. No one has ever talked to you this way, in or out of a commercial. Listening to this voix douce féminine, or even its strong, all-knowing male counterpart, you begin to question your own existence. You are in love and you wonder why you have wasted a lifetime using Charmin when you could have moved to Paris and wiped your ass with an infinitely more desirable French product. Driving from the airport in a taxi and hearing a female voice intoning mangez un sac de nos cacahuètes is like listening to Mata Hari. You will gladly forswear your nuts. 

1 comment:

  1. I think you got it wrong, the secret to French advertising is simple, boobs, boobs and more boobs.


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