Nostalgia and Parody: Advertising’s Finest

By: Laura

Commercials often draw our attention with catchy music. These days there are songs from all time periods being played along with these commercials for things from video games to the newest Chevy truck. Using music to go along with an advertisement is a very good strategy for companies because that catchy tune will get stuck in the viewer’s head, then whenever they hear it they will associate it with the product. This is a great idea, until the original meaning of the music has completely disappeared. The advertising companies still win when targeting a younger audience, but people who grew up listening to this music find some of the most iconic songs of their time being stripped of meaning. One ironic example of this is a commercial for the video game Dante’s Inferno that I found featuring Bill Withers’ song “Ain’t no Sunshine”.

One ad in particular that was brought up in our book was the Nike commercial featuring the Beatles song “Revolution”. This caused a huge stir, because a song that was once known to represent ending a war was given a new meaning: Sell Nike shoes!! Here’s that ad…

I don’t think it is the best idea for ad companies to take one of the most iconic songs of a decade and use it to sell their product. For one thing it will probably piss people off more than anything, and definitely make the product less appealing. This strips the song of its original meaning. This loss of nostalgia is not occurring in commercials alone. Many famous photographs and paintings have been reproduced over the years to try to sell something or represent something that was not a part of the original meaning. For example, the classic painting titled American Gothic has been re-done and parodied in so many ways I have no idea what the original picture was even supposed to represent. Here are a few interesting parodies I found…

Parody is a very large part of popular culture today. Pretty much every show has some kind of reference to a culture or idea of the past. Some are more out there than others. Take South Park and Family Guy for example; most of these shows are devoted to making fun of something from prominent political characters to serial killers. There is nothing these shows won’t touch for the sake of laughter. These two are examples of parody that may have gotten a little out of control over the years. And then there are those like Saturday Night Live and Mad TV who specialize in parody, devoting a whole hour to making fun of many different pop culture fads of years past. I think parody is one of the largest parts of popular culture today. If it’s popular, it has probably been remade and or made fun of over the years. People love to be a part of an “inside joke”, and this is what parody is all about.

Popular culture is ever changing, and with the help of characteristics like parody, and using songs from our past it will continue to become more and more interesting over the years. I can only imagine what parodies will feature ten years from now.

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