• Hank Melluish

The Real Musical Travesty of Sunday's Big Game


Here’s the thing… here’s the thing… I should be doing homework right now, and this is going to upset a lot of people. As I’m writing this it’s one in the AM, and I told myself this could wait until tomorrow, but the past few days I have been blinded with confusion and anger and for what? I’ll tell you what, that’s what.


So, The Weeknd played the Big Game this Sunday, and it was a big event, right? People in the music sphere as well as the sports sphere were talking about the Weeknd. The older folks were like “Who’s the Weeknd?” and his fans were like “How is he going to do a family-friendly halftime show?” and I’m sitting there like, “People were mad he was snubbed at the Grammys... it’s a publicity stunt,” you know? But anyway, I was at work, and because I work in a restaurant I was able to catch the halftime show in the bar. Missed everything else.


Now, my opinion on The Weeknd is very much from the perspective of an outsider looking in. I like some of his music--namely “Blinding Lights,” “The Hills”--but he seems like a pompous ass to me. I liked him in Uncut Gems too… but that movie just ruled across the board. What I’m saying is that if anyone is able to deliver an unbiased opinion on this show, it’s humble old me.


Here’s the fact, fella: that was a killer show. You’re high, baked and stoned to say otherwise.


Now, sure… he’s clearly channeling Michael Jackson on the heavy-side… but to say that this show was worse than Madonna’s, or that awful Maroon 5 one a few years back, that’s just a blatant falsehood and you know it! This dude monopolized the stage, the cameras, the field, and it was something I’d never seen before. The guy is a showman.


But I wasn’t surprised to see all the hate the next morning. People complain, I know that, but I was surprised to see how much of it there was--and more so than that, the love of the true musical travesty of the Big Game. One horrible... horrible Cheetos advertisement.


I caught up the next morning on these ads. I like to do that. See the great misfires of the night. I saw the full Jason-Alexander-Hoodie one which somehow made less sense in context… that bizarre Oatly commercial… Flat-Matthew McConaughey--all totally weird. Companies are at their weirdest that night and for the most part I dig it. But this ad with Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Shaggy is truly one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Here’s the premise: Ashton Kutcher asks Mila Kunis if she ate his Cheetos. Shaggy--perhaps some figment of her imagination--tells her to tell Ashton Kutcher “wasn’t me.” You know. Like the song. And then Ashton Kutcher starts singing the whole thing and Mila Kunis is singing the other part of the song, you get it, and then Shaggy is revealed to be real and he does the voice, and this goes on for a full minute before Ashton Kutcher finally decides to trust her and Shaggy says something to the effect of “Wowzers! I Can’t be-lieve that worked!”


Now, first thing’s first: it’s not funny. I mean, it’s really, objectively, insultingly unfunny. Frankly, it’s not funny to the point I’d tell you that if you think it’s funny... you’re clinically dumb. But people I know--people I respect--thought this ad was funny. After I saw it I talked to them about it, and there’s where my real crisis of self began.


And it started as a “could I be wrong?” sort of deal. “Am I really just not understanding the nuance of this visionary work?” I mean, it’s happened before… I didn’t like Birdman the first time I saw it… but as I thought harder--and again, I have been for days--I was able to get to the root of just what it is that rubbed me so wrong. And here’s where I get really bitter.


Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis got their starts on the slightly-above-average, cult-classic sitcom, That 70’s Show in the late nineties. Topher Grace did as well, as well as Laura Prepon and the disgraced Danny Masterson... but these two have staying power because in the show they were a couple and in real life they became a couple. And because they’re such a famous couple and have never done anything egregiously horrible, people now love them and see them as, and I quote, “relationship goals.”


But it wasn’t always this way. This is just every ad on the Big Game now. Every single ad has to have a celebrity in it doing things any old person could do--now Matthew McConaughey is doing Doritos when just years prior some everyman was Dan the Dorito samurai, and now Bud Light has hired out Post Malone because he’s got tattoos on his face. Ashton Kutcher has now been proven a horrible singer, and from what I could tell, that was not the intention. Why not get some actors who need work? Actors who can actually deliver a joke? Because in theory, Shaggy singing “It Wasn’t Me” about Cheetos instead of cheating on your girl isn’t a bad joke! Not a great joke, mind you, but it’s good for a chuckle--but they took it and botched the delivery to such a magnitude that it makes that Grubhub trash look like Citizen Kane! Because what people can’t seem to understand… what people aren’t even thinking about is that just last year--not even last year--there was this celebrity reckoning, right? This moment where all of these celebrities were outing themselves as these insecure people who thrived on attention and the knowledge that they were so much better than the rest of the country. Every. Single. Ad had a cameo. The vast majority, anyway. They seemed to miss the attention so much that they shilled out and jumped onto anything. They don’t need the money! I know they don’t! I see how these people live while I eat Dinty Moore and a banana every. Day. I miss the days of being ashamed of Will Ferrell for that “Imagine” video while his electric car ad is lauded. We can’t afford it, Will! Don’t you think we’d all be driving them if we could?! I miss when DoorDash didn’t have the money to play at my emotions to support local restaurants while they profit off their backs. And boy, do I miss mocking celebrities who ignored the world around them while they sit pretty in their million-dollar mansions like the one we get a tour of in that heinous Cheetos ad--and it’s not Cheetos’ fault! Not really! It’s what you have to do to compete. A nostalgia-play is great, but a nostalgia-play with everyone’s favorite squeaky-clean celebrity couple… that’s a touchdown, baby.


Here’s another example. I was in a store a month or so ago and their radio was on and--watch out, this is going to come off as very callous--the DJ was talking about the late Larry King while he was still in the hospital. “Please keep Larry King in your prayers,” she had the audacity to say. My prayers?! Just a week ago you were all scoffing at the man for flying private! Sure, he may have been a sweet guy, but never in a million years would he have thought about any one of us! At best, he’d throw your GoFundMe a Benjamin for clout, but never would God hear your name from his mouth.


So, the celebrities are winning. They always will and it just bugs me. I don’t even know what to say anymore, because it’s such a rock and a hard place situation. I don’t hate Ashton Kutcher. I don’t hate Mila Kunis--and the commercial wouldn’t have made sense without Shaggy... but what if it was a couple the public arbitrarily doesn’t like? Kim and Kanye, say? Would it have worked? Of course not. It only works if it isn’t a celebrity couple, or if it was one that everyone wants to think would be friends with them. Obviously, Cheetos opted for the latter.


And for that... I will never forgive them.

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