Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Taming the Suburban Wilderness

Okay, so. If you've read last Sunday's post, it should make perfect sense to you why I think this commercial is worth sharing. If you haven't, I should hope you'll still appreciate it.

Allow me to walk you through the action.

The moment night falls and darkness envelops the space around his suburban house (that perfect encapsulation of the sacred space of civilization, the modern version of the frontier homestead), his perfectly flat, perfectly ordered lawn begins to rebel. Individual blades poke up in exaggeratedly rapid fashion; vines begin to creep up towards the warm light of the window; a tree's roots burst through the lawn, rending the ground as they expand outwards; perfectly pruned hedges burst forth from their invisible containers, their leaves assuming a wild three-dimensionality. In the last shot we see, leaves blow up over a neatly-demarcated dirt path and cover the camera.

Fade to black for a full two seconds, and we hear a heavy wooden door sliding open, as warm golden morning light reveals the silhouettes of a fully-outfitted wilderness control center -- the garden shed. Standing in the doorway, chainsaw in hand, stance wide and preparing for the day, is our hero from the night before. The door thuds to a halt, revealing a distinctly wild environment where the lawn used to be -- the dirt path has overrun its borders, there are chest-high grasses and man-high bushes everywhere, the trees are huge and have branches going every which way, and the sun shines through their leaves. Right as the door opens, the Husqvarna logo is overlayed:

The deep-voiced narrator announces the company name and tagline matter-of-factly, and the birds continue chirping for a moment more, until the commercial ends.

The implication, of course, is that Husqvarna equipment are the tools that a man needs to do the daily work of taming the wild -- and it is important that this work must be done constantly. At the beginning of the ad / cycle, the man comes inside long after the sun has set, and at the end, he begins anew as the sun is rising in the morning. The ad implies that the work of civilization is round-the-clock and contemporary; that it occurs even in the ostensibly civilized space of a town; that it is the work of a man; that it is un-accomplishable without the assistance of tools and technology (which I'll talk about more in next week's Sunday post)... and, being an advertisement, there's also a whole layer of economic/market/commodity/corporate/et cetera analysis that could be done. And I haven't even talked about the music...

This whole ad is such a wonderful encapsulation of what I've been talking about -- these relationships between people and nature, civilization and the wild, the sacred and the profane, et cetera -- that I was tempted to simply post it alone. Oh well.

That's it for now. I'd love to hear your comments.