Commercial Break: EAT THE HEAD
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 27, 2009
I thought maybe, maybe I could escape without writing a blog entry about this commercial–alas, it’s now so far under my skin that I have no way to exorcise it besides using this forum. I’ve long been obsessed with the Wade-Barkley MyFive series, which at their peak reached a scintillating, Mulder and Scully-like will-they-or-won’t they tension, but with those seeming to have run their course, it’s unsurprising that they looked for further support. What Yao Ming did to earn his place in this triad is unclear, but his good-guy charms, cultural displacement and awkward chemistry make him something of a natural fit for the gang. Now I am left with an even greater series of puzzles to unravel:
- OK, so we all know that this commercial is racist. But against who? Black people for being culturally ignorant? Chinese people for being barbaric, xenophobic assholes? White people for watching it at home? All of the above? It’s just about impossible to say for certain.
- Are there Chinese restaurants that really serve live shrimp? OK, so maybe not, and probably we’re just supposed to believe that this is a prank meant to humiliate Chuck and D-Wade. But still–it looks like this is a pretty fancy restaurant. Wouldn’t its customers be a little upset to see a bowl full of live shrimp freaking out a table of celebrities? How much business are they costing themselves with this little piece of fun?
- Why is Yao in an airport for his parts? It may seem like an insignificant detail–a world-traveler and professional athlete like Yao might very well be in an airport for much of his life. But think about how annoying it is just to check into an airport–now picture getting an entire camera crew, makeup people, personal assistants, everyone in there (plus equipment) for an important commercial shoot. They probably had to shut down an entire wing of DFW for one day just for these, like, three seconds of footage. Couldn’t he just have been chilling at home or something?
- Yao asks for Chuck to put the waitress on the phone, then tells her to tell them to eat the head. Fair enough–further their subterfuge and get the two All-Stars even more wigged out. Then why does the waitress say “Yao says eat the head”? Shouldn’t the waitress act like the directive is coming from her? Otherwise, Yao could’ve just as easily told them himself, and saved T-Mobile valuable seconds of ad space. Also, does she have to sound so nervously excited about the whole thing?
- Yao’s “EAT! THE! HEAD!” commands over Chuck’s T-Mobile phone should be the commercial punchline–and in a way I guess they are–but why is his enunciation so flat? Likely, it’s supposed to be a “USE! HIS! LEG!”-type chant of social pressure, but Yao makes it sound like “EAT…the-head!” It sounds more like he’s trying to use his powers of Chinese mysticism to hypnotize them into doing his bidding, rather than exhorting them into spontaneous action.
I can’t help wondering who’s going to be the next NBA star to be thrown into the pot here. Can we get Dirk Nowitzki to get the guys to attempt the boot at a beerfest or something? Take mushrooms with Steve Nash at a Rush concert? Get in a bullfighting ring with Pau Gasol? Hopefully T-Mobile just keeps adding and adding, making an ever richer broth to warm my heart while I’m watching TNT on cold Thursday nights.