Ford uses a suicidal astronaut to sell cars

I forget what the heck Mrs. CD and I were watching last night when this add for the new Lincoln MKS came on. The reason I can’t remember is that the ad was so astoundingly wrong and tone-deaf that it melted those few memory cells I have left. Visually it was just the usual slow-motion showy pictures of a car but it was set to an incredibly down-beat cover of David Bowie’s Major Tom.

In case you don’t remember, here are the lyrics:

Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown, engines on
Check ignition and may God’s love be with you

This is Ground Control to Major Tom
You’ve really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare

“This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do

Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles
I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much (she knows!)”

Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear….

Other than the fact that Major Tom has a melody that everyone in the 40+ age group will recognize, I cannot fathom what in the world made this seem like a soundtrack to sell cars by. Maybe they really are that depressed in Detroit. This makes the ubiquitous use of Lust for Life, Iggy Pop’s upbeat ode to heroin, look smart. At least Lust for Life was an upbeat cult-hit that everyone didn’t already know the lyrics to. Major Tom is probably known word-for-word by most angsty people who were between 12 and 30 in the 1970s. We all know how the story ends on this one.

Not sure who to be more amazed by, the folks at Berlin Cameron Detroit who proposed it or the folks at Ford who approved it. Although Ford and the agency would like you to believe the message is “reach higher” (the link goes to the official website), in fact the message is far more disturbing: Lincoln … When You Want To Go Out In Style.

Wow. Now that’s collateral damage.


Facebook-causes-suicide story spreads even as facts recede

As noted earlier this week, Facebook and other social networking sites have been blamed for a wave of teen suicides in the UK. This was simply too good a story for the press to pass up — regardless of the facts in the matter.

Now comes word from Down Under that:

Psychologists in Australia have warned about the power of glamorising death through social networking sites in the wake of a spate of suicides in the UK

Translation: A reporter or editor saw the story and said “Localize it!” So someone called around to a bunch of local head shrinkers and asked for their opinions. To no one’s surprise the psychologists said this is a bad thing. No one seems to have told the mental health types the only fact contained in the entire story.

However, a police spokesman in Bridgend said there was no evidence to date of a suicide pact and that the theory did not come from police.

So the news  (a.k.a, the lead) is buried in the fourth paragraph and contradicts the basis for the rest of the article. Thus an accurate headline would read: Cops say suicide pact story is nonsense

What makes the article even better (better here meaning “an improved quality of stupidity) is the fact that the final paragraphs feature a medical person saying stories like this could exacerbate the problem.

Dr Jonathon Scourfield, a lecturer in social sciences, said cultural and social influences were influential in the decision to commit suicide.

“The more stories that appear about young people having killed themselves in your area, the more it might appear to you to be a reasonable response to a particular kind of crisis,” he said.

Sometimes it is difficult to remember that the only thing worse than having a free press is not having one.

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Not content with destroying the economy, Facebook is now causing suicides

It’s official: social networking and not the pursuit of money is now the source of all evil.

Previously Facebook et al., have been blamed for A) destroying the economy, B) supplying information to Cosa Nostra and C) ruining Christmas. (All those who think the state of the economy has something to do with absurd lending practices and oil flirting with the $100-a-barrel mark will be required to take a remedial class in sensational journalism.)

Now comes the latest word that a social networking site (that would be the et al. mentioned above) are driving teens to kill themselves.

The deaths of seven young people from the same town in South Wales could be linked to a suicide craze sweeping a social networking internet site.

According to reports detectives believe the goal of the suicides isn’t actually death but to have one’s friends set up an online cenotaph and thus gain some postmortem coolth.

“They may think it’s cool to have a memorial website,” one officer told The Times newspaper. “It may even be a way of achieving prestige among their peer group.”

Now I’ve heard more absurd theories — something about Iraq and WMDs comes to mind — but not many. All the reading I’ve done suggests that the key ingredient to suicide is mental illness not internet access.

Sadly this is not the first time I have encountered reports of teens making a fad of killing themselves. When I was in college there was a report of a wave of teens hanging themselves on Long Island. If memory serves experts offered theories ranging from the then-nascent MTV to the ever popular alienation. However further review of the evidence revealed that in fact these were all botched attempts at what the NY Times genteelly referred to as “auto-erotic asphyxiation.”

I could be wrong of course. Perhaps the world has changed even more radically than I realize since I was a teen. That was, after all, back when mastodons and manual typewriters roamed the earth. At the time I was as angst-y as they came — the amount of time I spent listening to Jackson Browne records and reading Yeats could be measured in years. But even I wouldn’t have considered killing myself to get my friends to say nice things about me when I was gone.

Paul Smith also takes a skeptical view of this on his blog here.
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