Week Eight: There’s More to Make from Lemons than Lemonade

March 15, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized)

I’m late because I don’t have any real solutions for this complaint, but the truth is for the past several weeks, the same phrase has been echoing in my head: “I was disappointed by “The Lemonade Movie.”

For months, I followed the hype around this documentary film thing. Its premise is that advertising creatives who got laid off in this economy really are better off because they can (and did, argues Eric Proulx of his several subjects) find their callings. You can find the thing for free all over the Web. Hulu has it. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. Why did they even make a film about advertising people being entrepreneurs? No duh, people. That’s what we are. BIG LEAP.

Now here’s the thing: This recession is a young little guy. He’s really only been around long enough to do some real damage, and he’s certainly not been around long enough to have people picking up the pieces, claiming left and right that they’ve been saved by the pink slip. No one recovers that quickly, and no one finds their calling in such a short damned period of time.

This movie pissed me off for the same reason ad agency models piss me off: It is greedy. It is not thoughtful. It seeks to fill the void of the superhero-in-the-recession movie — and it sure did its part to beat everyone else to the punch. But in the thirty-six minutes it takes to tell you that these advertising people are going to change the world by generally doing the same fucking things they did in ad agencies now that they are no longer inside of ad agencies, I could tell you about the seven people I ┬ámet this year under the age of 30 who have survived various types of cancer. Yeah — these people are worth writing about. These people, I believe, in 1.5 years of recession, have changed their lives and the lives of those around them. And when you encounter people like this, you realize that not only is 36 minutes not enough time in which to tell their stories, but also 1.5 years is not enough time to amass and tell the stories thoughtfully. That’s what happens when you have real life-changing content to work with. Ad people doing ad-like things… Who gives a fuck? The only man in this cast I wanted to know more about was the one who took the opportunity to become a woman. HE ACTUALLY CHANGED HIS LIFE! And by doing nothing that had anything to do with advertising, I might add. He deserved his own 36 minutes and then some.

What irked me more than anything was the sanctimony: the ultimate and obviously pandering desire of Eric Proulx to be quintessentially inspirational. Barf. From the constant after-school-movie-coming-of-age-like press, you could tell this movie wanted to be the thing the unemployed need most in this world. The thing we can all hold dear and feel warm and fuzzy about, like President Obama. Like donating to Haiti. The next feel-good trend: The recession. This fucking, painful recession that has advertising people acting like advertising people and not changing at all while the rest of the world changes tremendously. Well, shit. You know, inspiration rarely comes from an inauthentic place.

Passion is vital, so I agree Eric Proulx has got something there. He just didn’t choose subjects that capture this very well, or else he didn’t give them anywhere enough time on screen to express their passion, making the documentary more about him and the great thing _he_ is doing with “Lemonade.”

Finding yourself after a layoff is important, too. So good job, there, “Lemonade.” But it is my personal belief that knowing yourself before a layoff is the real key. That way, when the world falls apart and you lose your job, you’re already prepared.


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