Toward a Theory of the American TV Commercial, Vol. 3, Spuds

Ian Dreiblatt at The Believer:

For a concrete demonstration, consider comedian Yakov Smirnoff, careening at Spuds Factor 10. Today, Smirnoff’s cultural activities have largely been quarantined to the town of Branson, Missouri, but in the 1980s, he was everywhere, including in numerous TV commercials, all of them repellent. For Miller Lite, he cashed in his Russian origins to go full “party-finds-you.” His Amoco commercials are like a fart that makes you go to the doctor. In his Best Western spots, one can regularly see his soul exiting his body. A 1988 Plymouth commercial is a journey to the wavering edge of human comprehension. Throughout, Smirnoff glows with an exuberance so phony it practically melts the screen. It overwhelms the commercial’s sacramental function, if anything pushing us farther away from ecstatic symbological unity with Best Western. This is life at Spuds Factor 10.

more here.