Friday, March 15, 2019

Grimy Sell Out

Do you remember when Michael Winner started doing those TV ads for insurance, (toy know the ones: 'Calm down fear, it's only an advert, etc')?  As I recall, they were initially and briefly shown in the late night schedules, before temporarily vanishing, leaving those who first saw them suspecting that we had dreamed them.  After all, we asked ourselves, why on earth would bombastic film director and restaurant critic Michael Winner be doing a series of ads where, essentially, sends up his own image?  Yet, as it turned out, he was doing them, as we realised when they finally hit prime time and began to multiply, with numerous variations on the basic theme.  I suppose that they were the Gio Compario adverts of their day.  Anyway, to get to the point, I had this suspicion that I'd dreamed a TV commercial again the other week, when I thought that I had seen an advert for Ladbrokes betting shops featuring celebrated grime artist Dizee Rascal in a time machine shaped like a red phone box.  I know, ridiculous, eh?  As if someone like Dizee Rascal would throw away his credibility by promoting gambling!  Yet, it seems, he has done just that.  I've now seen the advert several more times.  It seems to be part of a new series of ads put out by Ladbrokes, featuring various 'celebrities', plugging the joys of throwing your money down the drain.

None of the other ads, however, have left me feeling as depressed as the Dizee Rascal one.  He had so much street cred, with his history in pirate radio, a pioneer of UK grime, he just seemed the last music celebrity likely to sell out.  And to do it by advertising gambling really does seem like a kick in the teeth to that section of British youth he was supposed to be inspiring.  It just seems to be saying 'Hey lookk, even if you have been an incredibly successful and critically acclaimed artist, if you are black and working class, then you still can't escape the class stereotypes of small time gambling addiction and seedy betting shops.  Still, I suppose that he hasn't been in the charts for a while now, so has to find some way of maintaining his profile and making a quick buck.  I just wish that he had chosen something more innocuous to advertise.  Because his isn't the on;y incongruous celebrity endorsement out there, (Harvey Keitel in character as Winston Wolf shilling for Direct Line Insurance comes to mind, or Jeff Goldblum advertising PC World, for that matter), but they at least tend to plump for relatively harmless products to endorse.  The whole world's turning to shit, I tell you.

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