Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett deconstructs the Go Daddy ad with the nerd kissing the supermodel.
Not that it should come as any big surprise, but I didn't watch the Super Bowl last Sunday night. I was at work but let us not kid ourselves, even if I had happened to have been home there wasn't much of a chance I would have watched even a moment of it. Not even the all-important commercials (see "Super Bowl Movie Ads") not when I, along with everyone else in America, can watch the new spots for Lone Ranger, G.I. Joe, Oz, World War Z, Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness over and over again to my heart's content the next day.
Which of course is what I did, and after I did read the reviews I came across another Super Bowl ad that nobody in our little world seems to have deemed worthy of mention; it was a 30-second spot titled "Perfect Match" for GoDaddy.com, the Internet domain name company. To demonstrate how "small businesses can boom when sexy meets smart" Jesse Heiman is shown kissing Bar Rafaeli. Or, as the overcomplicated headline which ran with a piece by Don Kaplan in the New York Daily News put it: "'It was like kissing paradise,' says luckiest nerd in the world after getting paid to kiss supermodel Bar Rafaeli for Super Bowl spot." It went on to report:
"That's how Hollywood extra Jesse Heiman, 34, described a daylong shoot sucking face with supermodel Bar Refaeli for what has become the most talked about Super Bowl commercial of the year. He said the gorgeous Israeli-born stunner needed about 60 tongue-filled kisses with him to get it just right for the GoDaddy.com spot."
The mainstream reactions to the ad have been visceral to say the least. The "super slo-mo make-out session" has been called "the worst part of the Super Bowl" and being full of "cringe-inducing slurpy sound effects." The Opposing Views website had a story on it called "Bar Refaeli Made Out With a Nerd 65 Times" (as if the point of the story was how she managed to survive the experience) that described the ad "the one that killed your sex drive for the next two weeks." My favorite headline though is probably from the UK's The Sun "Bar-limey! Model Refaeli’s passionate snog with porky nerd," which was followed up by the subtitled "Refaeli hungrily snogs young geek in a jaw-dropping new TV ad."
Cheap and attention-grabbing, "Perfect Match" has proven to be a winner for both GoDaddy and Heiman. Prior to appearing in an ad shown during one of the highest rated television programs of the year the self-proclaimed "king of the extras" greatest claim to fame has been making occasional background appearances in episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Then there's the ego boost: while he's had to endure a lot of snide online comments about his looks, a lot of them end with backslapping "thatta boy" sentiment. As Heiman himself explained to one writer, kissing Bar has left him feeling as if he had "won the championship of men."
"Walter," the character Heiman plays, isn't specifically a comic book nerd. So maybe this doesn't have anything to do us with us after all, but I do think there might be something more behind all of the outrage over "Perfect Match." It's about something more than just an (admittedly) clumsy wet liplock. Perhaps the idea that a beautiful person becoming physically involved with one of us (a regular person) is a lot more transgressive to mainstream America than "tongue-filled kisses" and "slurpy sound effects."
We sometimes like to think that "nerd culture" has taken over mainstream America, that we're the ones who are really running things, but this ad clearly proves that's just not the case. I recently wrote (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Christmas at Ground Zero") that nerds weren’t going to allow themselves to become housewives or hillbillies, the next visually distinctive demographic that cable reality shows can exploit at will. But that was just wishful thinking on my way; if "Perfect Match" is any indication, the nerd will be exploited as a source of cheap amusement for decades to come.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.