Super Bowl Ad Watch: Cool Kids in Action

Fenster writes:

Parts 1 and 2 of Super Bowl Ad Watch here and here.

“Who are the cool kids” is one of the defining themes of the ads.  Here is an example.  It is the short video “Going Away Party” featuring this generation’s coolest duo: John Legend and Chrissie Teigen.  It is maybe not the most interesting of the ads we will see but it is in some ways the clearest and most direct in terms of the themes I outlined at the close of the last post.


Whites have a hard time being cool.

Blacks and mixed race are almost always cool.

The rules above are applied more rigidly to men than they are women.

Old may be respected if clearly earned but they are seldom cool and they may be made fun of by the young and cool if deemed uncool.

On to the ad.

John has asked Chrissie to accompany him to a swank get together.  John is black, though he could pass as mixed race.  Chrissie is mixed race: Thai and Norwegian.


Chrissie, while dresssed to the nines as though she would fit right in, doesn’t seem pleased to be going.  She asks in slight irritation  “John, why did you bring me here?”

John, who unlike his wife dressed casually,


responds “I think it’s time we throw Old Luxury a going away party.”

Chrissie seems to get right into it. We cut to Chrissie on the stairs


where she calls for the crowd’s attention.

The crowd is, being Old Luxury, overwhelmingly white.  Mind you this is not intended as a slam on white but rather Old Luxury, which can’t help being white.


The crowd is mostly an even sprinkling of white women and white men, with the women dressed, like Chrissie, to stun, but with the men dressed in those stuffy formal tuxedos.  So right here we see something of a difference relative to how males and females adapt to the new rules.  Casual preferred for men but stunning is never out of fashion for the women.

Chrissie begins to call one by one out various uncool people out in the crowd individually, and does so in a condescending manner.  These people who may think they are cool but Chrissie reminds them, quite cruelly, that they are not.

The Asian guy, the only other guy not in a tux.  Nice try chump!  He doesn’t even know he’s been called out.


The white woman, probably getting on in years.  Chrissie calls her out for trying to hide her age with obvious face lifts.


Another white woman a bit past her prime who is into the whole Eastern thing, which is so uncool.


A swingin’ younger white guy, tuxedoed but with tie undone and tux jacket slung over his shoulder.  Stop leaning on people!  Uncool.


The crowd was no doubt pleased at Chrissie’s celebrity attendance and was surely happy to accommodate her desire to address them from the stairs.  But she makes mincemeat of them, tossing in only at the end of her speech a grace note to Old Luxury, personified by yet another mature white woman.  She toasts and acknowledges “you had a good run.”  Finally, a small gesture of respect!


Chrissie then directs the attention of the crowd to the entrance, where Legend was supposed to drive up grandly in a new Genesis, exemplifying the New Luxury that would replace the Old.  Here, the writers had the good sense to back off lest the two come off as completely insufferable.  Legend drives up late, embarrassing poor Chrissie in the face of her inferiors.  Chrissie admonishes him, saying “it was supposed to be a thing and you made it not a thing!”

Legend playfully raises the window, appearing to shut her out.  But then he makes his wishes clear: just call me by my People Magazine name–the Sexiest Man Alive.

legend sex

She consents, they drive off and all is well.

Clever, no?  It is only Old Luxury, old privilege, that is being called out.  Not the individuals.  So there can be no offense taken.

What, you are offended?  Ah, you thereby reveal your inner privilege and defensiveness.

Better to just let it go by.  After all they are both perfectly charming people, and it was all done in a playful spirit, without real malice. And it’s just an advertisement for heaven’s sake!


About Fenster

Gainfully employed for thirty years, including as one of those high paid college administrators faculty complain about. Earned Ph.D. late in life and converted to the faculty side. Those damn administrators are ruining everything.
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5 Responses to Super Bowl Ad Watch: Cool Kids in Action

  1. flulrich says:

    Aren’t the “cool kids” not also on the downswing, once marketing has discovered them? do 12 – 18 year old kids see Teigen and Legend and think they are still “cool”?


  2. Fenster says:

    that is beyond my pay grade. i know who legend and teigen are as celebs and i think i heard legend sing a few times but i don’t know either well. i had to google teigen’s ethnicity and i am still not sure what she does. i have to work like crazy to not know more about a lot of celebs. so if they are on the outs in favor of a still younger set i would not be surprised. among other things the new luxury aesthetic they seem to favor is an awful lot like the old luxury aesthetic they make fun of. there’s not much new there and if i were an enterprising young culture warrior i’d be happy to dethrone them.


  3. Pingback: Super Bowl Ad Watch: Half-time, Pause and Digression | Uncouth Reflections

  4. Brian Gardam says:

    I think the TV ads we absorbed in our youth also pushed a social agenda that was part of the ethos of the day. If we (or our kids) watched them now we would be at least amused and probably appalled by how women were portrayed. All races but white did not appear at all, which was certainly intentional and reaffirming the belief that only white people mattered. You seem to be saying that there is something newly suspect in advertising reflecting and even cheering for attitudes of our more enlightened times. I agree that they are still agonizing to watch.



    • Fenster says:

      Whether ads “pushed a social agenda” or not in the Mad Men era is debatable. I mean, I just don’t know whether Dan Draper and pals sat around tweaking portrayals according to a predetermined scheme aimed to do more than sell soap. Maybe they did but my guess is the tilt we all experienced was mostly a matter of a particular breed of person expressing the values that came naturally to them. That does not make it good, and there is always a role for reason as a double-check against bias.

      Whether all that the current ad regime is doing is “cheering our enlightened times” is an interesting question. That seems to me a little disingenuous– “hey. all we are doing is pointing out progress.” It seems to me more than that. But let me finish my write ups! I said at the outset that anecdotes are not enough, and the little case studies presented to date are mostly anecdotal, a way of pointing out the details of the approach. I expect to continue (after vacation) and will suggest that things go a little deeper. It is one thing to say we should always portray women as strong and empowered, and that negative imagery is out of bounds for minorities. But if, say, white men appear to be systematically denied those benefits does that not say something? Is it simply “cheering our progress” if white men tend to be shown as inept or without traditional male virtues?


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