There are plenty of things to celebrate about being American, but being possessed by a blind mania for working yourself into the ground, buying more stuff and mocking people in other countries just isn’t one of them.
So we wish we could say that Cadillac’s commercial for its 2014 ELR (suggested retail price: $75,000), which debuted during the Olympics, was a joke. But no, it seems to be dead serious — a completely shameless celebration of our work-hard-buy-more culture, with a blanket dismissal of “other countries” and their laziness tossed in for good measure.
The opening shot shows a middle-aged man, played by the actor Neal McDonough, looking out over his backyard pool, asking the question: “Why do we work so hard? For this? For stuff?”
As the ad continues, it becomes clear that the answer to this rhetorical question is actually a big fat YES. And it gets worse. “Other countries, they work,” he says. “They stroll home. They stop by the cafe. They take August off. Off.”
Then he reveals just what it is that makes Americans better than all those lazy, espresso-sipping foreigners.
“Why aren’t you like that?” he says. “Why aren’t we like that? Because we’re crazy, driven, hard-working believers, that’s why.”
By this point, the ad has already become little more than a parody of itself, but we had to ask: believers in what? The pursuit of “stuff.” The other reason for America’s superiority, according to Cadillac? Our unrivalled space exploration program (“We’re the only ones going back up there,” the ad boasts). Nevermind the fact that the U.S. government is now paying Russia $70 million a pop to shuttle NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.
Cadillacs have long been a quintessentially American symbol of wealth and status. But as this commercial proves, no amount of wealth or status is a guarantee of good taste. Now, the luxury car company is selling a vision of the American Dream at its worst: Work yourself into the ground, take as little time off as possible, and buy expensive sh*t (specifically, a 2014 Cadillac ELR).
“As for all the stuff,” says the actor, revving up his shiny new car, “that’s the upside of taking only two weeks off in August.”
As one YouTube commenter wrote, “I’d take more vacation any day over a Cadillac.” Amen to that.