Sunday, June 7, 2015

Homework! Homework! Give me a break!

This dude wears a vest just to study! That's fancy!

Memory's a funny thing. There are now long, long stretches of my life that are little more than a blur in my mind. But, come what may, I will in all likelihood never forget the opening line of a 1981 television commercial for an unsuccessful candy bar.

In the oft-replayed ad, a bespectacled, curly-haired young man sits at his desk, slaving over a stack of books, a pencil clutched in his hand. It must be fairly late, because he is working by lamplight, and the cluttered room is otherwise dark and shadowy. In frustration, unable to cope, the fatigued scholar sets down his pencil, takes off his glasses, and addresses the camera in an anguished fashion: "Homework! Homework! Give me a break!" The voice-of-God announcer then suggests that what the lad needs is a Summit candy bar. A few "candy porn" shots later, the young man takes, eats, and is satisfied.

This little-remembered confectionery was a product of the Mars candy bar company during the early years of the Reagan administration. Essentially Twix with peanuts, the ironically-lowly Summit bar lasted only a few years, including a half-assed 1983 makeover, before being yanked from store shelves.

But the iconic Summit TV commercial survives on YouTube, fortunately. That inimitable opening salvo -- "Homework! Homework! Give me a break!" -- became something of a catchphrase in the Blevins household. We'd say it well into the late 1980s, long after the Summit bar itself vanished from the American scene. The color has badly faded from this print, but the famous lament is intact.

In reviewing the 30-second spot, I realized I had forgotten the commercial's delirious second half, in which a young woman, also a student, finds herself utterly overwhelmed by hormone-crazed male suitors, all of whom accost her in the school hallway to ask her to "the game." She, too, begs to be given "a break," at which point the boys produce -- seemingly from thin air -- a barrage of Summit bars, all of which they point directly at her face. A greedy, ravenous look overtakes our heroine.

The moment fairly drips with sexual suggestion. The screenshot below looks like a behind-the-scenes shot from a porno film in which all the dicks had to be CGI'd in during post-production because the leading lady had a "no dicks near my face" clause in her contract.

And she grew up to be Lady Gaga... so that's interesting.