Monday, August 25, 2008

Really? Are You Really FOR New York?

Something’s been bothering me for the last year. Actually it’s been bothering a lot of people. I speak, of course, of Taxi TV, the little flat screen Mayor Bloomberg installed in the back of New York City taxis because – well, I really don’t know why. I guess the map feature is handy enough though it only feeds men’s obsession with seeing where they are at all times from an aerial view. (Since my boyfriend discovered Google Maps GPS service on his Blackberry I’ve seen more of the top of his head than I have his face. He’s been bent over that thing for weeks.)

Taxi TV automatically comes on when the driver starts the meter launching into whatever mini-mercial it’s been preprogrammed with, so this is my routine when I get into taxis: I tell the cab driver where I’m going. Then I lean over and immediately jab at the Off button, a preemptive strike in which I try to shut off the TV before it can get out the first notes of the kicky theme music. I poke it with my knuckle, figuring that it’s a better receptacle for germs than the fingertip I’m going to later use to rub my eye or pop a lifesaver into my mouth. (I’ve been paranoid of touching communal objects ever since I went to dial a New York pay phone back in 2000 and my friend said, “What are you thinking?” he said. “Don’t you know that people pee on those for fun?”

“No, I don’t know that,” I answered. “And now I'm wondering how you do.”)

Of all the taxi-sodes the one that really gets me is the “I’m 4 New York” campaign advertising the local NBC Channel 4 affiliate. Isn’t it a little counterintuitive to be advertising for regular TV on Taxi TV? And why are they advertising for New York in a New York cab? Clearly you’re already there. It’s not like you’re going to be on your way to the airport, see the ad and say, “Well, I was going to leave but now I think I’ll stay a couple of days. You’ve convinced me!” Are they trying to urge tourists to move here permanently because the girls playing soccer indoors aren’t helping our cause. “Move to New York, where there’s so little recreational space your kids will be forced to practice organized sports in your apartment building hallway!”

From the mother and daughter bizarrely lolling around in a flowing sheet, to the startling (and frankly off-key) aria at the 36-second mark, to the faux Halle Berry at the end, the whole thing just grates on me for some reason. “And what’s with the mariachis?” I ask my friend Chris, who has blogged about Taxi TV for New York magazine’s Daily Intel. “I have never seen a mariachi in New York, except for the subway mariachis and those are against the law. It's like they're saying, 'Check it out: We have Mexicans!'”

He adds: “And we have altar boys! They are available for touching!”

I will say that I could become a Taxi TV supporter if they expanded anchor Sue Simmons' cameo in the commercial to a speaking role in which she says, "I'm for New York. What the fuck are you for?" Something to think about for next time, Bloomberg.


BCA said...

i confess, i use my knuckles on every atm.

Anonymous said...

While I don't love taxi TV, I did love the Diane and Sade commercials.

Chris said...

There is also a random pretty lady in those ads (short brown hair, white dress, if I recall correctly) who I can't identify. There's wind blowing on her, though. It's like, "We have generic model-types! Take that, Toronto!"

Anonymous said...

We get an NBC "I'm 4..." ad here in LA as well.