Monday, December 11, 2006

He Went to Jared? The Guy in the Subway Commercials? (part deux)

No Steelers game on Sunday, so let’s see … let’s take a look at other forms of entertainment like, say, cinema and television commercials.

The new film Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and the estimable Jennifer Connelly, is out and was reviewed in the local paper over the weekend.

A blood diamond is a diamond mined in a war zone and sold to finance war efforts, frequently those of warlord factions in places like Sierra Leone, Angola, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Kanye West has weighed in on this issue in his song, “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.”

Apparently, DeBeers Group, which controls the majority of the diamond trade, has expressed its unhappiness with Blood Diamond and Warner Bros.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls have yet to see Blood Diamond, but if you are one of the two or three people who have visited this site, you know one of our pet peeves is the incessant inundation of holiday-season jewelry store commercials.

The Christmas Ape from Kissing Suzy Kolber opined eloquently on this topic a few weeks ago, and we have ranted, as well. The timing of the release of Blood Diamond is in stark juxtaposition to the pre-Christmas airing of all the inane commercials from places like Zale’s, Kay Jewelers and Jared.

Jared? No, not the guy from the Subway commercials, but I always think of Subway when I see the commercials for Jared, the jewelers, which are probably the most annoying of any poisoning the airwaves.

They meretriciously pander to the basest level of audience idiocy; not to mention, the quality of diamonds you’ll be getting from these types of mass chain store, mall-based stores is subpar, as noted by The Christmas Ape.

So, diamonds are a girl’s best friends? Sure.

A long time ago in a land far, far away, Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls decided it was time.

We didn’t even own a car at the time, but off we went to Bailey Banks & Biddle to dutifully buy the engagement rock that cost about as much as a good used car. A really good used car.

Afterwards, on a work-related photo shoot, we mentioned the purchase to Harry the photographer and goofily said, “What have I got to lose?”

Harry got real quiet and pensive, and he paused before saying ominously, “Everything.”

We looked at each other, and he said earnestly, “Having been there, I can tell you this is not a step to be taken lightly. You can lose everything. Money, sure, but that’s the least of it. Peace of mind.

"And, the worst thing, time. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll never get back the time you put into it.”

You know what? He was right.

And if she hasn’t done so already, Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls hope she sells that damn diamond and buys herself a good used car.

Oh, and by the way: A recently published book, “Blood from Stones,” links al-Qaeda to diamonds. According to the book, al-Qaeda is likely using the hard-to-trace diamonds in place of cash, in various transactions to fund its activities around the world and to counter legislation on seizing terrorist-associated bank accounts.

Just something to think about, Jared.

NO, not the guy in the Subway commercials.


Unknown said...

With regard to the issues related to conflict or "blood" diamonds everyone has failed to mention the legacy of the colonialists and their insidious monopolies that continue to exploit Africa's and Asia's natural and human resources.

The DeBeers Monopoly continues to plague the industry, the political landscape and the progression of societies that promote good governance and human rights throughout the developing world. While it is true that the diamond industry provides jobs for millions of Africans and Asians they work for slave wages (sometimes only a cup of rice a day) and in very dangerous conditions that no one in the west would ever be expected to endure. Only the monopoly, corrupt politicians and business people in these countries truly benefit from the diamond industry as it is structured.

One of the ways that monopolies continues to exploit Africa and Asia's resources and peoples is by continuing to refuse them the right to add value to their resources like diamonds, coltan, gold, silver, timber, etc. You do not find cutting and polishing factories in sub-Saharan countries of Africa because the monopoly uses criminal adventurers and sabotage as a weapon against any one who tries to add value to diamonds by cutting and polishing them for sale directly to US and European markets prior to leaving their respective countries.

Monopolies are bad for everyone except monopolies. No one should buy diamonds until the day that African's and Asian's are allowed full participation in a free market atmosphere without the interference of criminal adventurers employed by the monopolies.

Good show Pit Bulls

The issue is not conflict or blood diamonds the issue is monopolies and their terrible legacy of greed, poverty, war, death, destruction all to maintain total control of the marketplace.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Thank you, Andrea, for your comment. Yours is an interesting take on this issue, and your observations are cogent and salient.

Some years ago, one of my clients was a company that makes safety equipment, including instrumentation and personal protective equipment for miners. Accordingly, I subscribed to various mining-related trade publications. One day, one of them arrived in the mail with a cover photo of an open-pit diamond mine in Africa. It showed scores and scores of black African miners working in the most appalling conditions ... conditions that can only be described as pre-Medieval.

They were shown scaling a series of rickety ladders with no personal safety equiment -- the hell -- many of them didn't even have shoes.

I remember staring at that photo and thinking, "As much as I routinely bitch and moan about my job, thank GOD I had the luck of the draw to have been born at the time and place that I was born. I could just as easily have been one of THOSE poor bastards."

I tore off the magazine cover and pinned it to my cubicle wall as a reminder.

During those times when I didn't like the way things were going at work, I would catch myself looking at that photo and thinking, "At least I get to work above ground; at least, I wasn't cursed to suffer THEIR fate. Unfortunate souls."

bitch and blog said...

Dr. Smac, professor of Marxist thinkology, approves of this blog entry and comments. The diamond trade and JARED commercials are intimately connected and points to how the modern woman falls prey to sexual alienation and the prostitution of herself for blood-tainted shiny objects. Women: think of the oppression you wear with that bling-bling. What ever happened to love?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Dr. M, but all I really have to appreciate is the oppression my boyfriend goes through at Wally World to earn enough money for it. Isn't that love too?

Dr. Paul Shemp said...

It's unfortunate that honesty isn't a girl's best friend. That would drastically cut down on unnecesary expenditures, false senses of security, and long-term mental disability.

Case in point - my ex-fiancee gave me a Tiffany's men's engagment ring for Christmas last year - 5 months after we'd met. This is silly shit to begin with because we didn't know each other, but God how interesting it was to be on that side of things for a change. 'Here, if I give you this, it will provide constant proof that I love you more than anything.' Ummm, no. bullshit, in fact. it provides a false sense of care that is a thin mask for possessiveness.

Diamonds are pretty. They are nice. They are expensive. So are houses and divorces.

If ANYBODY can provide a plausible argument that states that a diamond ring is going to guarantee ANYTHING other than a false sense of security, I'll eat my left foot.

mai wen said...

Really good post. I've been wanting to watch "Blood Diamond" and hope to before I leave for my trip to Africa (January 1st!) I'm ashamed to say I was one of those foolish girls who eagerly waited and coveted her diamond engagement ring, and it is gorgeous and I know that my husband worked hard to give it to me, but it's not worth the mistreatment of any human being.

Now I am more aware and am disgusted and annoyed by the continuous diamond commercials as well. Until Africa has fair trade opportunities, it will continue to be difficult for Africa to pull itself out of its extreme poverty. Taking advantage of Africa's trade opportunities cripples Africa and keeps it snuggly under the West's thumb, which I'm sure is the intent of many people.

It continues to surprise me how ignorant many Westerners choose to be. Why isn't there more outrage of this blatant abuse of people's rights? In the same way I've been outraged about the child soldiers in Uganda for years, most people I share information with on this subject matter are completely ignorant and Had No Idea that for 20 YEARS the Lord's Resistance Army has been kidnapping and torturing children to force them to fight in their crazy war. I know it's more comfortable living under a rock, but aren't people ashamed of themselves?

Baffling, completely baffling!

Thank you for drawing attention to this outrage. I'm always proud and happy to find other people who are willing to be aware of the world around them.

Anonymous said...

A diamond isn't forever? A tatoo is.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

We're still trying to figure out why they named a chain of jewelry stores after the guy in the Subway commercials.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

By the way, Debbie, what would happen if a guy proposing marriage -- instead of buying an actual diamond -- offered to pay for his fiancee's tatoo ... of a diamond.

The only trouble with that is, of course, while tatoos may be forever, over time they fade and become splotchy and blurry. So the nice sharp diamond tatoo might eventually resemble something closer to, oh I don't know, cubic zirconia?

Which reminds me of a couple I used to know: After a few years of marriage, his wife decided to get her engagement ring appraised for insurance purposes. Yup. You guessed it. The "stone" on the ring turned out to be cubic zirconia. That didn't go over well, to say the least. To make up for his deception (and his cheapness), he ended up having to over-pay for an exponentially bigger rock, which was the real thing. Turns out the marriage didn't last anyway, but she kept the diamond.

Anonymous said...

While it may be a horrible industry, and while the fact that so many women value these rocks may prove depressing, there is nothing really anyone can do about. For hundreds of years now people have died and thrived off of things such as diamonds, and this is probably how it will continue to be. Also, when it comes down to it, the diamond is not just any other rock: it is the hardest natural material. It is something that will not beak anytime in the near future. Why is it so wrong to recieve one as a gift? It can be used to symbolize the relationship between two people, not just how much money one can spend. So in the end, it is unfortunate that this rock has caused so much of what you guys say it has, but its symbolism is still there and will continue to be for a very long time.

Wheres my point?!

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

"Where's my point?!"

Matt: I'm not even sure what MY point was when I wrote the original post that prompted this whole discussion.

I just thought the timing of the release of the movie was worth noting for its stark juxtaposition with the onslaught of jewelry store commercials, which annoy me to no end. I simply used the movie's release as an opportunity to take another shot at those commercials.

All that, along with the fact that apparently the movie's release struck a nerve with DeBeers.

Plus ... all of this is against the backdrop of my personal experience buying an engagement ring and what happened subsequent to THAT. Not to be bitter or anything.

In any case, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls didn't anticipate so much impassioned discussion of this particular entry.

It's been fun, and thanks to all for contributing to the discussion!

bitch and blog said...

Walter, you need to do some mining for your point...but you get a point anyway...

dr. smac

Dr. Paul Shemp said...

'For hundreds of years now people have died and thrived off of things such as diamonds, and this is probably how it will continue to be.'

Are we playing a game of state the obvious? So, because something has been a cetain way for a set period of time, we shouldn't question it? Hmmm, we could play a game of 'Poke Holes in the Theory' for hours, but I'll just point out, say, slavery as something that persisted for many years with many taking an 'Aww shucks, what can we do?' attitude until somebody made a stand and made a difference.

Also, when it comes down to it, the diamond is not just any other rock: it is the hardest natural material. It is something that will not beak anytime in the near future."

So on this theory, it's the resilience of a gift that makes it appropriate? Would this mean a gift of my liver - damaged as it is - be more or less valuable given its current condition and its inability to prove viable once removed and untreated from the human body. Once again the focus is on the gift and not the intention, or gesture behind it.

Bottom line: an accepted practice and the material don't make for a logical gift. Or let me turn it around - do you want to spend your life because you are what you do or because you were what you bought?

The point isn't the gift, it's the expectation. Remember being a little kid? And wanting a flexible flyer / red ryder / Doors LP / Nintendo before anybody else had it? And no matter what gift you were given - and no matter the circumstances surrounding that gift - you were dissapointed if it wasn't the flexible flyer / red ryder / Doors LP / Nintendo system. Didn't matter that the parents were poor or they had better uses for money than some token gift, like saving up for an education.

The sad fact is that the emphasis is no longer on the gesture, but on the box and the expected outcome. I've gotten more genuine reactions with an evening in and a 4 course meal (pistachio crusted Chillean sea bass, grilled asparagus with old bay roasted potates and home made pear ice cream - that one worked this evening) than I have with some silly horseshit pretense at using a gem or anything else as a ruse for my undying love. Blah. I'd rather ride a seatless bicycle than expect a gem - or anything other than my word - would serve as a barometer of my love.

A diamond says I love you? Bullshit. A diamond (see Exhibit A, Kobe Bryant) often says I'm sorry. Which is why the jewelers only advertise once a year. You think people only fall in love at one time a year, OR is it more plausible that we only have this one time per year to make up for the stupid shit we do the rest of the year.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, somebody is feeling a bit tense. Its funny how this one little blog post brings out so much hatred towards diamonds. Come on, who are you kidding? Diamonds may say 'Im sorry' in some cases, but people still love them for what they are! In the past, you got a diamond on your engagement ring and it meant forever, and back then, it usually turned out that way. The fact that so many people get divorced these days doesnt mean we should turn our noses up at a diamond, we should rather try and fix whats wrong with marriage in the first place.

Also, if you consider it irrational for the emphasis to be on the item itself and not the gesture, then I guess you may have a lot more problems with the world in addition to this one. So if I take some horseshit from your post, get my hands dirty on it, throw it on a plate, and give it to my lover, I should expect a genuine thank you? I mean I got my hands dirty, right? Im willing to do that for her as a nice gesture, but for some reason I dont think shed like it. You cant sit here and say that the only thing that makes a gift is the gesture, the item itself does as well. People like diamonds. They are beautiful, they are forever, and unfortunatly they are expensive. Its too bad that the gesture of giving a diamond as a gift has become perverted according to you, But not everybody sees it this way.

Also your entire liver example is rediculous. Quit trying to be so sensational. You cant look at the practice if giving gifts and be so one-sided. Nothing is as black and white as that. Some people may do it for all the wrong reasons, but a lot of others dont.

Why dont we start talking about the irrationality of racism, religion, war, and anything else that causes pain in this world for no reason whatsoever. For some odd reason, I think spending any of our time complaining about diamonds when there are real problems out there is as irrational as anything can get... besides numbers.

bitch and blog said...

Here here honkxytonx. You get an A.

Dr. Paul Shemp said...

Tense, yes. It's two weeks until Christmas and I've yet to find that perfect diamond to show my true Christmas cheer.

I'm not asking anybody to turn their nose up at diamond, and yes, 50 years ago it meant a hell of a lot more and usually lead to a long lasting marriage. Of course, 'back then', men also used to beat the piss out of their wives - wives who had little recourse and remained mute throughout the 50+ year marriage. Good example!

How does my consideration of emphasis on the gesture mean that I have a lot more problems with the world? Where's the connection there? There is absolutely no logic to tie my interest in the gesture of a gift to having 'a lot more problems' with the world. It also has nothing to do with getting your hands dirty - I NEVER said that the only thing that makes a gift is the gesture. I simply said that a spectacular gift given with little thought is of more harm to the person receiving the gift. It's false, be it a diamond, a car, or flowers. I don't expect everybody sees it my way - that would make life fairly boring if everybody saw things the way I do.

You may think my liver example is sensational, but I think your comment that 'nothing is as black and white as that' is specious. Either way, does it matter? Somebody here indicated that the longevity (or material hardness) should be a sign of the true value, and that's simply not so, otherwise people would only be happy with gifts of diamond and/or titanium.

This is a BLOG, designed by a moderator - not a bulletin board for world peace. If you are looking for a place to discuss racism, religion, war and anything else that causes pain in this world for 'no reason whatsoever', I suggest you may find common company on a college campus or in a class room. Those areas seem to be the best places to endlessly discuss how things should be instead of making changes to how things are. Yes, these are certainly huge issues that we could discuss for years, but it's also not the point of this blog.

bitch and blog said...

To be a good mediator, the diamond trade was and is built upon and within systems of racism (remember apartheid) and war. That's what is at issue. See the movie.

Anonymous said...

As is the oil industry, and Im sure everyone here uses oil or its products almost every day. A lot of what clothing we wear or items we buy are made in in countries where the workers are not paid what their labor is worth as well. Im just saying that if your going to talk of diamonds the way you are, then talk of everything else that is in the same boat. Also, dont knock the item itself or why people like it, knock what its trade was 'built upon'.

A movie like this came out not too long ago called Syrianna (Im sure you all know) and it was about the oil industry. Same with Al Gore's Inconveniant Truth. I dont think anything happened after those movies came out, just like I dont think Blood Diamond will trip the diamond trade up a single step.

Whatever Im done posting. :P

Dr. Paul Shemp said...

To be a good critic, Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby was based on Nascar, but I can discuss the arguments of one (diamonds as gifts) without the other (the diamond trade is an inherently racist and enslaving empire). I wasn't commenting on the diamond trade - just the insulting and pervasive diamond commercials that only seem to pop up around the holidays.

I'm no intellectual and my college degrees are in creative writing, professional writing and technical communications. I have no business commenting on the socio political issues behind the diamond trade. I don't know nearly enough to speak intelligently on it - but I also am able to discuss giving diamonds as a gift without involving the history of racism and enslavement that produced diamonds.

Dr. Paul Shemp said...

'Also, dont knock the item itself or why people like it, knock what its trade was 'built upon'.'

WTF?! So we should question why people like something but we should question the foundation that caused it? Jerry Springer. How can't you question why people like Jerry Springer without questioning his catering to the lowest common denominator? Which leads us back to the people themselves that like that sill shit.

It's tough to factor out the product and focus on the trade or cause when the product is purchased or driven by people that fund the trade. It's cyclic. Or am I wrong?