Saturday, February 3, 2007


The Idiot's Delight Digest is an email group that's centered around legendary free-form radio deejay Vin Scelsa and his show. (But it's not slavishly adherent only to that topic.)

The IDD is the reason I wanted to get into the world of the Internet a dozen years ago and it's one of two groups I joined as soon as I got a computer. (The other was an "ElfQuest" fan fiction email listing holt called "Sky's Cradle".)

I've met well over 100 of my fellow "Iddiots" from all over the world, become good friends with many, even took on the responsibility of god-father to the daughter of one, and was... involved with a handful of them (not all at the same time).

That's what keeps me in the IDD - the people. Because I don't necessarily need it to read the posts. And yet I do - still after twelve years, I haven't become bored like I would in other e-list discussion groups which don't let you venture outside the topic. That's the great thing about the IDD, it still remains interesting to read because the Iddiots harp on an ever-expanding array of topics.

And that includes the Geico cavemen.

The Honorable Rich Metter Rich Metter (Yep, it's not redundant!) kicked off the topic:

Aren't those Geico commercials with the aggrieved caveman the cleverestcommercials you've seen in your life?

It's not always clear whether he's just being sarcastic though, but that's all that was needed for the other Iddiots to run with the subject:

What I want to know is this - is the decidedly gay undercurrent meant to be ironic and culturally subversive or deceptively not-so-subtle in an ostensibly *anti-gay* manner, all the while silently smiling with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge nod to the knowing?


listener neil:

Jesus! I thought he was Jewish . . .

Fred continued:

Of course he's Jewish! He's a friggin' caveman . . . ya know, like B.C. and all. In those days, *everybody* was Jewish! God, Neil, I thought you knew all this stuff . . .

But just because he's Jewish doesn't make him *automatically* gay - that seems to be the extra ingredient I am sensing . . . particularly the ad where they order food at the restaurant and the newer one when they are talking on a balcony patio at some party. There are at least 2, if not more, of the characters. The guy in the airport is *not* the guy at the therapist - at least not in my reading of the caveman universe. I think the airport guy is the one who doesn't order any food because he says he doesn't have much of an appetite. The guy at the therapist is the guy who orders the duck with the orange mango salsa, I believe.

I am unsure which character appeared in the 15-second spot of the annoyed caveman TV production guy storming of the set during the shooting of a Geico commercial . . . but I think he was wearing something vaguely reminiscent of Village People shorts . . .

All of which is very clever, as RMRM noted. Or "shmart", as a gay Jewish caveman might say . . .

As did Listener Neil:

That sounds a little like Edward G. Robinson. Who was Jewish. But not gay. Although he did collect art. But what you're also saying is that the B.C. guy is DC, not AC. Which is not PC.

Carrying on was Dr. Bobt:

Carrying the stereotype a bit further, the one that is in the therapist's office, after he answers his phone, says, "it's my mother....I'll put her on speakerphone."

running for cover,

This put a burr in JKeefe's Trash Mavericks saddle:

(How can all you) people could interpret a cave man as being Jewish.Will fucking wonders ever cease? Nope, guess not.

So don't try to lay this Boogie Woogie trash talkin' on the King of Asbury Twang & Roll...

More on this later.
Coach J.

As usual with the Digest, certain topics and threads of discussion become "entwined", as was the case with the Geico Cavemen and a thread about Ten Years After:

From he who is known as "Kiddrane":

Al Kooper is Jewish?
I Thought he was the guy who played the organ on Like A Rolling Stone?
Is he related to the caveman?

Then our resident Mademoiselle Francaise had this to parlezvou:

Where are the days of gekko commercials. Ever since the gekko left, these commercials have been unbearably racist.

Having started it all, RMRM of course had to follow up on that one:

Colette writes, in reference to the Geico commercials featuring a modern-daycaveman:

"Ever since the gekko left, these commercials have been unbearably racist."

Can you please elucidate? I'm especially interested since I was the one whofirst posted about my affection for these commercials, and I'd be shocked tofind out I'm endorsing racism. For the record, although I don't have anycaveman friends, I don't care what stage of the evolutionary cycle a personis from, as long as they are a nice person.

I know you have been victimized in your life for being a member of number ofminority groups. If I remember correctly, you are Jewish, a woman, French,an Intellectual, an Artiste, and (although this is conjecture on my part) a lady from outer space. Is it possible you are also a cavewoman?

And Big Dan brought it all down to MY level:

Rich Metter wrote: Can you please elucidate?
My mom aways said too much of that could make you go blind.

Adjusting my glasses,
Big Dan

And we heard from Karla as well:

I'll start by saying that I lovelovelove the Geico caveman commercials. I don't get how they sell car insurance, but they entertain me.

I never thought the cavemen seemed gay or Jewish. I just thought they seemed very L.A.
Which I suppose is kinda gayish, kinda Jewishish.

My tele-fanatic frind Nora Lee found this link:

This is the closest I could find to an article I read or story I heard on the radio that explained the entirety of the Geico campaign. That each series, the Gekko, the cavemen, the celebrity repeaters, etc. (at least I think I'm remembering right that they are all Geico), each appeals to a different type of insurance or way of getting insurance or different niche of the market that isn't getting insurance, or specifically Geico insurance, for a specific reason. And I wasn't vs. having the Gekko on the tunnel or bridge entrances in NJ.

Adweek in a bunch of articles says that the cavemen are specifically intended to be from L.A. There's a new commercial coming, or may be on but I haven't seen it yet, that has a caveman in LAX seeing an "offensive" ad. The articles also say that because the ads now have "a following" they'll continue to make new ones.

The discussion about the ethnic or whatever implications of the very funny ads makes me wonder what kind of "rehab" is Isiah Washington in? One that takes one's foot out of one's mouth?

Colette finally responded to Rich Metter Rich Metter:

Hi Rich,

Yes I am from outer space, and I look just like the gekko replacement.

So add this one to the list. I remember telling IDD that some of our first ancestors, after leaving Africa for India, decided to stop on an island near the Indian coast, and still today some of them refuse to live modern life. Some say it's because some of their brothers started smoking and doing drugs when "civilization" was brought to them..I quote an article here, I never went there to verify if these more modern islanders are in a desperate state of addiction.

As for the ones that still refuse modernity, they had to be forcibly rescued from the tsunami. Then they asked to be kept separated from the general population of the Indian hospital where they were being brought back to health by their rescuers.

When I come across one of these commercials, I always think of these island people's reaction to "civilization". It makes me uneasy, and of course, it brings back memories of the older movies where "negroes" had unglamourous roles (servants, vaudevillians...)

It is possible that the commercials' makers have very good intentions. They might be evolutionists, recognize who our ancestors really are, and feel brotherly ties to their cats, dogs, fish, and also the tiny living cells in the magma that Earth once was. Why not make a real movie about the topic, instead of clumsy commercials.

fred tried to bring a peacable end to the topic:

Karla writes:
I never thought the cavemen seemed gay or Jewish. I just thought they seemed very L.A.
Which I suppose is kinda gayish, kinda Jewishish.

I think Karla wins.

Particularly on the objective, "factual" basis, if the source Nora Lee cited about the cavemen being designed to represent the West Coast persona is accurate and correct.

But I also think that the ads, like anything else we perceive in the media, serve also as a Rorschach test when we actually stop to think about our reactions to them, what they seem to be saying to us individually and how we interpret what the meaning may suggest about the companies or agencies behind them. And, in the case of tv commercials, when we actually go that l-o-n-g extra step and discuss them as anything more than ephemeral video mental floss.

In any case - I have been contracted by Geico to do both a semiotic analysis of the entire cavemen ad series from *my* initial perspective on the implications of "risky" gay lifestyles and the associated psychological need for the sense of security that insurance, writ large, can have for said market. Phase two of the paper will deal with the secondary and tertiary cultural readings involving ethnic and geographic stereotypes (having addressed already the primary sexual-orientation reading) and it's affect on both the effectiveness (positive/negative, short-term/long-term, etc) of the branding of Geico and also the new media and new technology platforms that represent possible and logical character extension opportunities for the cavemen.

"Professor" kidd:
I have conducted a poll of my children and their friends -- I have three children ranging in age from 17 to 27 (Yes a wide gap). Including their friends the poll includes approximately 30 individuals from this age group.

When asked about the Geico commercial -- All 100% responded that it is amusing and they have no concept or idea related to any thing being racially motivated. Several commented that MY (our) age group tend to over think things.

In part I learned during my poll that most from the 17 to 27 year old generation feel MY (our) age group spend too much time analyzing what is just another form of entertainment.

Everyone from this demographic as in 100% have little or no concerns about what religion some one may be. They furthermore do not care at all what sexual orientation one may be.

And finally, Cousin Steve provides the blipvert campaign analysis:

What I don't get about these Geico campaigns is why they are all over the place thematically.

You've been discussing the Caveman theme.

They had that little green Gekko going for a while.

They still have the celebrity interpretive campaign, that's where Burt Bacharach, Little Richard, or that that from the movie promo reels interprets the customer's experience with the company.

Pretty soon, they will realize that the cost of advertising is going to have to be passed on to their customers. Then, Zoom, there go the insurance rates.

Out of sequence, but Walr@ had this comment, which gives it a nice bit o' closure:

Thanks. I'll go put on some tangerine lip gloss and read the article......


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Toby,
How can there be no comment at all on this joyous topic?!
Well done my friend, and congratulations about the big news.
Take care,