Minneapolis, oh kitten, you work so hard cultivating your image as cultural center of the Midwest (or apparently of “the North” now as Minnesota pride and prejudice scolds are yelling of late). I’ve heard proud residents declare Minneapolis the Chicago of the Midwest (uh, the Midwest already has…nevermind) or even the Paris of the Midwest (although an acquaintance of ours will fight to the utter death defending Des Moines as the Midwest’s Paris; you think we’re kidding). Can we all just agree that Minneapolis is the Minneapolis of Minnesota and leave it at that? As the Minneapolis of Minnesota, sometimes good things happen here or are birthed here. One of those good things birthed here is the Walker Art Center, at which a really excellent thing happens annually – the British Arrow Awards aka British Television Advertising Awards. Oh British Arrow Awards, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways.
Thing 1: the British are delightful. For many reasons, none of which have anything at all to do with their food.
Or maybe it has everything to do with their food – specifically how odd British food is. Mince pies? No one knows what on Earth those are, except Brits, certainly no one wants to eat those except Brits. Brits also have things like beans on toast, black pudding, and Marmite. Most of us wouldn’t know a Marmite from a Vegemite from the dark side of the moon, with the glaring and notable exception of one of our Editrices who hails from Australia and you’d better damn well never either confuse Marmite and Vegemite, or disparage Vegemite by referring to it as Marmite; this age-old Brit versus Aussie-style nutritional yeast dispute is the stuff of legend, people. But true fact, an ad – or advert, just to be more Britly about it – for Marmite won the coveted British Arrow Commercial of the Year, but we didn’t think the ad was all that, so let’s move on.
For us, a not insubstantial portion of British awesomeness is due to their being just so, well British. They don’t have trash cans – they have dust bins and wheelie bins; things aren’t messed up – they’re totally cocked up; people aren’t fired – they’re sacked. Listening recently to a public radio debate where we vociferously disagreed with the debate team that happened to be comprised of Brits, we found ourselves fighting to stand strong on our principles simply on account of their nefariously pleasant Queen’s English. But, we digress.
Thing 2: The Brits prodigiously feature oldsters in their ads (and we mean that in the most loving, cuddly fashion – knowing we’re chronologically well on our own way to Red-Rovering over to Team Oldsters, and already Olympic contenders on Team Get Off Our Lawn). And we don’t mean ads limited to featuring Betty White (although frankly she’s a national damn treasure), Fred Thompson, Wilford Brimley, Sam Waterson (see also, a national treasure) or a parade of older folks whose hawking is centered primarily on pharmaceuticals, the supposed constitutional criminality of Obamacare, and term life insurance. No – the Brits unabashedly and delightfully feature sexa-, septua- and octogenarians in regular ads for run of the mill products that aren’t just Stuff Marketed to the Olds: sportsball, dogfood, yogurt, cell phones, beer, running shoes, we could go on.
Case in point:
And this gem – we’re unable to embed it, but trust us you want to click through for it:
If you didn’t just weep all over your damn self with that last one – a commercial for dogfood, for fucks sake – well, you’re a cold monster of a human. This brings us to our next point of why the British Arrow Awards are the greatest:
Thing 3: the British Arrow Awards is an emotional roller coaster. An hours’ worth of adverts, run one after the other with no commentary or context other than bookmarking Honorable Mentions, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Commercial of the Year, had us alternately laughing, weeping, feeling hella uncomfortable, “awwwww”-ing, thinking humanity is awesome, thinking humanity is the worst. Some lulz for your consideration:
Thing 4: let’s talk about how delightfully understated Brits can be while somehow kicking you right in the knickers – aka “British public service announcements are not fucking around:”
I don’t know when we Americans’ sensibilities went the way of utter pearl-clutching. We can create and abide the most gratuitously violent and sexually explicit film and teevee content on the planet, but run something like any of the above during Family Guy or Modern Family in prime time here in the States and there would be no end to the boycotts, Congressional hearings, tears, recriminations and general gnashing of teeth.
Thing 5: Brits do fantastically British adverts with bears, hares, stumpy dwarf ponies, and chickens:
See? The British are just so appealingly British. We’re not saying that Benedict Cumberbatch or Emma Thompson or really any average Anglo bloke on the street could incite us to rob a bank or purloin a car, but we’re not NOT saying that either.
If you happen to find yourself in the Chicago of Minnesota, er the Paris of the Midwest, er Minneapolis – tickets are still available for the 2014 British Arrow Awards at the Walker Art Center.