Nathan blogs well about the response to Gap’s nauseating “Go Christmas! Go Hanukkah! Go Kwanzaa! Go solstice!” ad. As he says, the predictable “Stop-the-War-on-Christmas” shout of “boycott GAP!” is silly and futile. (In fact, the ad’s jaw-numbing PCness may well have been deliberately tailored to prompt an outcry from the self-appointed, and decidedly un-hip, bouncers of America’s Christmas Party. All publicity is good publicity, especially when you are a fashion label and the person attacking you is Sean Hannity.)
I should admit, however, that when I first saw the ad this weekend, I instinctively hurled some right-wing expletives at my TV set. What most annoyed me wasn’t just the right-on multi-culti message, though. That was part of it, sure, but not all. It was the intolerable smugness that really got me. Even if you changed the ad’s song to the words of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” GAP’s unbearable lightness of being would still burst on to senses — jingling, smiling, putridly happy.
It’s all part of that new well-balanced positive chic — something that seems increasingly attractive to ad-makers. Leading the way is Apple with its epically pleased-with-itself “I am a mac … I am a PC” meme, and its even more obnoxious Ipod campaigns. (You know the thing: kids of every color wearing Winter clothes of every color–presumably from GAP–dancing like loose-limbed lemmings before a white wall background.)
For these teenagers of Apple-Gap-scarf-gloves-IPhone land — if they actually exist anywhere outside ad-world — cool means the opposite what it was supposed to mean: sultry, ignore-the-system cynicism is being turned into up-beat, be-nice-to-everybody, enthusiasm. Maybe the latter is better, overall, but it makes me feel like having an adolescent tantrum.