I believe I may have finally decoded the purpose behind the strangely sinister Dr Z’s somewhat sadist treatment of the reporter.
The subtext is that the reporter is kind of a weak nelly who can’t handle the sheer toughness of the brand. It’s just too much car for him, doing things he could never, in his pansy city life, really need it to do. It makes the car a manly challenge, but because Dr. Z is so unfazed, it also says hey, you don’t have to be a burly brute to be up to this challenge, you just have to be confident in the brand.
I like this ad, though I can’t assess how useful it is for selling cars. It’s the way Dr. Z so casually strides off, leaving the speechless reporter in the wrecked car, that gets me. I hear the ghost of Bill Hicks whispering “Man with big balls comin’ through”. Dr. Z does not care about your feelings. He is not going to cuddle you. You just have to trust him, and through him, the brand. The reporter is never in any danger, because Dr. Z is in control, and the car is just that good. But he is clearly being schooled, and the lesson is that he needs to make himself worthy of the car, not the other way around.
I know it’s controversal as art, but this recent trend of playing up the strangeness of advertising icons (as with another one of my favorites, the hilariously creepy Burger King) is okay by me. They’ve always been bizarre, and I think the joke is partly in (those of us who do laugh) laughing at ourselves, for being held captive by them.