Obligatory Victimization Lamentations

8 Comments
Culture, Miscellaneous, Politics

I hardly watch any television, maybe about 5 hours a week, which is usually not a thing to note. It’s relevant, though, when I talk about a particularly obnoxious commercial I’ve run across rather frequently in the past few weeks.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the exact commercial on YouTube, but a similar commercial from the same advertising line can be seen below… I found a YouTube clip of the commercial and linked to it below.

At this point you probably recognize the commercial, but I’ll elaborate for those who don’t.

-“Chad” representing Alltel, is confronted by the “Nerds” and instructed to get into the back of the van.
-Rather than containing the ridiculous and stupid pinching segment, that segment is cut from the commercial.
-The next segment has “Chad” asking, “So what level Dungeon Master are you guys?”
-The “Nerds” reply, “Dungeon Masters don’t have levels!” and high five.

Like a good victimized minority, I object to the characterization of D&D players/ Tabletop role-players in such a negative fashion. It’s long past time to stop sitting down and accepting pop culture characterizations of role-playing game enthusiasts as ugly, unhygienic, socially inept people. It’s rather ridiculous that any major corporation will play into such a tired and inaccurate stereotype as part of an ad campaign. What’ll we see next, a “Trail of Tears” ad campaign with Native Americans who aren’t on Alltel’s cell phone network being forced to leave their homes for “coverage reservations”?

Not only should Alltel be ashamed for negatively stereotyping gamers this way, but let’s face it, their attempt to portray themselves (using the proxy of “Chad”) as “hip” and “cool” in the face of those other “D&D nerds” falls flat on its face. Regurgitating thirty year old stereotypes isn’t “hip,” it’s passe as hell. Get your advertising team off of the quaaludes and force them to come up with something relevant to the new millenium. Videogames are the biggest entertainment medium period. Over six million people play World of Warcraft alone. Guess what? If you’re playing tabletop games in this day and age it’s precisely because of the social element of being able to interact with people, face to face.

Time to grow up, Alltel. This isn’t high school anymore, where you can be part of some cool clique just by virtue of insulting other people’s hobbies. A group of people sitting around a table telling stories isn’t some sort of activity that deserves scorn, though nor does it deserve praise. It’s just one of many things people do to entertain themselves.

Henceforth, I call for all humans and demi-humans to boycott Alltel products until such a time as hostilities cease and reparations are made for this injustice.

Update: Here’s a thread on the Wizards of the Coast forums which talks about this Alltel commercial as well.
Update 2: I also found this reaction to the Alltel commercial on someone’s Livejournal. All I have to say is that I agree entirely.

8 Responses

  1. “Henceforth, I call for all humans and demi-humans”

    Neeeeeeeeeerd

  2. Heh. No one uses Alltel anyways!

  3. Hmm, I have to admit that I hadn’t thought of it this way and even after reading your post, I don’t actually feel all that victimized. Certainly Alltel’s commercial is stupid and stereotypical and pretty low humor. But there are a lot more demeaning and stupid things in all types of advertising that we should be getting upset about.

    In truth, advertisers as a profession have a very very poor reputation of making fun of the people they are trying to sell their products to. It was common for many years that women were portrayed in a subservient, inferior or degrading way, but nowadays the hammer has swung a bit the other way just as much. Watch any commercial where there is a family unit including Dad, Mom and kids and I’ll bet my left nostril the father is the ‘stupid’ one or the comic relief. For instance, McDonalds has a Spiderman III promotion where the dad is practicing his spidey moves upside down in the backyard and gest attacked by a squirrel. Another cell phone company touts their free text/pix to anyone on any network and Dad tells the kids that they “can now afford for Mom to quit her second job” as a giant TACO.

    You are on the right track though. Advertising just annoys me most of the time, but I guess without it we’d all be Communists (and that whole concept worked out _so well_ in practice for the USSR).

  4. @ArcoJedi:

    I don’t really feel victimized either. Though I’ve employed (and attempted to subvert) a certain style of discourse in the post, for the most part I’m pretty apathetic to the whole thing. I do think it’d be nice if, for the first time in the history of the world, D&D wasn’t used as a synonym for dysfunctional people or actions, but I won’t be losing any sleep over it.

  5. I also dislike Alltel’s portrayal of D&D players as geeks. In the commercial they use the word Dungeon Master. That is a copyrighted phrase owned by WotC. WotC should sue Alltel for damages caused by their commercial.

  6. Well, while this article is old, it’s still satisfying to say that Alltel just got bought by VZW. That’s right. The little, nerdy Verizon guy just put a dog-collar on “Chad” that says, “Verizon”.

    He owns you now, Chad.

  7. %name said:

    Well, while this article is old, it’s still satisfying to say that Alltel just got bought by VZW. That’s right. The little, nerdy Verizon guy just put a dog-collar on “Chad” that says, “Verizon”.

    He owns you now, Chad.

    Ha, that’s a funny take on it Dave. I’m just hoping the buyout means I can stop having to see those Alltel commercials. All commercials are horrible, but at least Verizon’s tend to be corporately bland rather than somewhat offensive.

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