We vastly despise it.
When we first saw it-instructing us "I will find something good in someone I don't like" and "I will never take my wife for granted" and "spend more time with my kids" and so forth-we sort of liked it, because we thought it was the Mormons telling us the ethical, positive, compassionate way to live life. Then we realized who the sponsor was.
Dear Toyota: Mind your own truckin' business.
We said this to General Motors two weeks ago and we'll repeat it now: There is no day we require ethical and spiritual guidance from a car manufacturer. If we need someone to flog us with lame pieties, we're sure Jerry Springer is available. Plus, we'll get to watch a tattooed- lesbian catfight beforehand.
It's true that this Japanese corporation has achieved remarkable prominence on the American cultural landscape. To even consider positioning itself as a standard-bearer of family values bespeaks an amazing penetration into our way of life. On the other hand, its English stinks. "Every day" is two words-except as an adjective meaning "ordinary."
What is not at all ordinary (Readers: Please note facile segue, ending a seven-paragraph preambular digression) is the Lexus GS work from Team One, El Segundo, Calif.
In chilling, ghastly imagery that suggests Edward Gorey meets William Shakespeare meets Charles Addams meets Tim Burton, director Sam Baer gives us four vivid interpretations of haunting "Macbeth"-like couplets. One is set on a roiling body of water, one in a post-apocalyptic desert, one at a grotesque Jazz Age steeplechase and one in a macabre woods, where the leaves fall in a deciduous blizzard, eerily reflecting white light.
"Ill winds mark its fearsome flight, and autumn branches creak with fright," says the female voice-over, an actress named Flo DiRe sounding for all the world like Linda Hunt. "The landscape turns to ashen crumbs, when something wicked this way comes.
"Introducing the 300-horsepower V-8 Lexus GS. The fastest automatic sedan in the world."
Never mind that last line; the insurance people will have it off the air in short order. But pay close attention to the Shakespearean "when something wicked this way comes." The line, embellished by lines of Mock-beth, appears in every spot, announcing for a dubious audience a Lexus sport sedan that for once is not predictable, insulating, sluggish and tame. This one is not only fast, these ads suggest, it has a touch of evil.
The organ music in the minor key does nothing to undermine that impression, nor do the image of the fallen leaves igniting and the Lexus GS 300 speeding through the woods leaving a conflagration in its wake.
The car is nearly as striking as the ads. The claim of monstrous performance is communicated to a fare-thee-well, and the listless, vanilla Lexus is finally imbued with a fearsome character with which to battle the brawny German competition.
And how particularly satisfying to see the parent company, which on its main brand purveys such self-righteous platitudes, here trade unabashedly on the