…and the cruise that Disney sells you won’t do anything at all?
Have you seen this latest ad campaign from Celebrity Cruises? Sometimes you see this sort of misbegotten stab at corporate hucksterism, and you just have to give your head a shake, like the time Kathy and I were sitting there when out of nowhere comes a commercial for the new Head & Shoulders Hair Endurance Shampoo. Say that fast a couple of times. I said to Kathy, “well”, I said, “glad we caught it on the PVR, ‘cuz they’re never going to show that again”. Meanwhile, somewhere in some luxury penthouse a horrified Proctor and Gamble executive was screaming at some minion over the phone about what he just saw on his goddam TV.
As far as we could tell, they never did air another plug stressing the words Hair Endurance Shampoo, but the Celebrity Cruise people are obviously made of sterner stuff, and they’re sticking with it. I’ve seen this new ad about 30 times already. “Wonder Awaits”, they’re calling it. I’m trying to picture the group-thinking cabal noodling it over in some 67th floor boardroom, wonder awaits, sure, sure, like it, great pitch, and we need a snappy theme song, say – say what? – say, White Rabbit. Yeah, White Rabbit!
And then, apparently, nobody, nobody at all at any point in the process, said are you out of your fucking mind?
I dunno, maybe they’re trying to reel in the remaining Baby Boomers while there’s still an economically viable population of the old bastards left to fleece, or maybe they’re trying to leverage the average person’s abject inability to connect properly with the emotive aspects of music, but from where I sit a song with lyrics like this is not the sort of thing that makes me want to confine myself in a floating metal box and entrust my life to underpaid strangers in ill-fitting faux-naval uniforms:
When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head
Hear that, Captain Steubing? Fuckit! Feed your head, baby! Then bark orders at the helm, only backwards! Hard a’starboard, and make revolutions for 25 knots!
What’s next, Cathay Pacific using A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall? Cunard hawking trips on the QM II with Into You Like a Train? I mean, the tone of Jefferson Airplane’s druggy, counterculture masterpiece, which starts off sounding like an evil, twisted re-imagination of Ravel’s Bolero, and ends with Grace Slick practically screaming her nihilistic acid trip manifesto as the hallucination takes hold, is a little bit, you know, off for a light-hearted nautical romp around the various sunny tourist traps of the Caribbean, isn’t it? It’s just not a happy, boppy sort of tune, right? It’s not about brief, blissful relief from the quotidian humdrum, nor anything that ought to put you in mind of ersatz Cirque du Soleil on the heaving quarterdeck after putting out from Cozumel. White Rabbit is a tense, subterranean dirge evocative of darkened rooms in hidden places, where people who just can’t give a fuck anymore have decided to annihilate consciousness itself, fuck conformity, and fuck what the Man says is legal, ‘cuz nothing fucking matters anyway, but tell you what: we’ll pretend we’re communing with the infinite or something while the ocean waves crash against the ceiling, and worry about the flashbacks later.
OK, so all aboard! There’s rock climbing on C Deck, and next stop is Puerto Vallarta! The men on the chessboard will be happy to direct you to your undulating staterooms. Then we must frolic on the white-hot lava! Quickly Gopher, before the giant tortoise eats us!
Maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way. You could argue it’s a refreshing example of truth in advertising. After all, what they’re selling is the iffy prospect of a good time aboard a bedazzled seagoing prison upon which every exposed surface is liable to be lousy with Norwalk virus, with the deck slimy underfoot from vomiting landlubbers, the toilets already clogged and overflowing, the always-closed pool sloshing around in heavy seas, and 900 people already lined up for the slop they’re slinging in the chow line where the less affluent passengers like you have to fight for their grub, and don’t let the lifeboat drills put you off, nothing ever goes wrong on the mighty Costa Concordia. Look, gulp down a couple of dramamine, drink yourself stupid, and don’t worry, it’s Disco Night!! Ooooooh, the pretty lights! The shit-faced revellers losing their footing as the hull pitches and yaws in the 10 foot swells! It really is a sort of acid trip, when you think about it, on top of which, augmenting the experience with a couple of tabs of cosmic sunshine might just be the best way to get through the bulk of it.
I guess I stand corrected – all things considered, White Rabbit is actually pretty well suited to the sort of experience they’re peddling, and might, after all, be the perfect soundtrack for the scene on the bridge when Captain Schettino decides to take her in real close to the rocky shoals and give the rubes on Isola del Giglio something to gawk at.
Yeah, definitely. I take it all back. It’s perfect.