(Reposted by permission of author Gina Barreca. This humorous essay first ran in the Hartford Courant on Nov. 29.)
Forget the Mayan calendar: Brad Pitt’s commercial for Chanel No. 5 is a sign of the impending apocalypse. Have you seen it? Pitt looks like Gen. George Custer right before his last stand.
Reportedly paid around $7 million to gaze into the camera and intone “every journey ends,” “plans disappear” and “wherever I go, there you are,” Pitt says the kind of things my father used to yell at us kids when we were annoying him on a long car ride.
My dad, of course, didn’t sound like Hamlet saying these things and Pitt does, so that’s part of the difference.
The other difference was that my dad, who would have been driving a ’67 Buick Skylark with a faulty muffler, had take-home pay of about 78 bucks a week. So when Pitt says “My luck, my fate,” he makes it sound very different from the way my father would have said it.
Pitt speaks so bewitchingly, however, you sort of don’t realize that what he’s saying the rest of the time is nuts. “The world turns and we turn with it,” Pitt declares. Well, Brad, until the end of the world was placed on this year’s calendar, we really didn’t have much of a choice, did we?
What’s the catch-line for Pitt’s Chanel campaign? “Inevitable.”
Yeah, right. Brad Pitt is a lot of things to a lot of women, but one thing he is not is “inevitable.”
Bunions, menopause and an increased need for periodontal care are inevitable; Brad Pitt is not.
Pitt’s shilling for Chanel as its first-ever male celebrity, therefore, shows that the apocalypse is heading our way. But the fact that he earned a fee in the high seven-figures without even needing to part his hair is only one indication that the world is drawing to a close even faster than a Kathie Lee Gifford Broadway show.
(That a musical written by Kathie Lee Gifford celebrating the life of a discredited evangelical preacher made it to Broadway could, in and of itself, be a heavy End Times indicator.)
Look, between the Mayan calendar’s prediction that life on earth will stop mid-afternoon on Dec. 21, Maya MacGuiness’ prediction that Americans will step off the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1 and My Little Pony’s declaration that “Princess Cadance can’t wait to marry prince Shining Armor,” after which “When you press her button, she’ll talk and her amazing wings will move and light up!” you know December 2012 is going to be a whole apocaly-lotta laughs.
Yes, My Little Pony’s magic unicorn horn has, by some, seemed to point increasingly to universal destruction.
I’m not cynical by nature, but the combination of these untoward events are enough to make even an unusually sanguine person such as me start watching “Doomsday Preppers” instead of watching QVC, HGTV or “Project Runway.”
After all, if it’s the end of the world, will I really care if my trousers are wondrously slimming, if my window treatments offer sufficient morning light or if tar as a fashion accouterment is the new bleached leather?
If the meteor hits, if dollars as we know them are entirely debased and we are all using socks instead of stocks for currency, and if Princess Cadance reigns over international politics once Shining Armor installs her as part of his “puppet” regime, will I care about whether my sister-in-law’s gravy is less lumpy than mine? Or whether her thighs are, for that matter?
No, I won’t. I’ll have new priorities, like trying to build shelter out of empty CD cases (I knew they’d come in handy), learning to forage for food (“forage” being a Brooklyn word for “steal”) and making fine wine from transmission fluid (it’s all about the horsepower).
Sure, if I’m going to survive the apocalypse, I’ll need to get used to some changes. Like Princess Cadance, I will be probably be all “shiny” as well as “glowy” given the pernicious effect of fallout. If the end of the world happens, I just hope I’m holding a martini made with Chanel No. 5 and just a hint of Valvoline.
But please, Lord: Before the world ends, if it must, can you make sure that comedian Gilbert Gottfried does a parody of Pitt’s commercial?
— Gina Barreca
Gina Barreca, one of the keynote speakers for the 2012 EBWW, is an English professor at the University of Connecticut and a feminist scholar who has written eight books.