King of the Nerds (I just realized this show title is sexist) by Crystal Curry

The ad I chose to evaluate is a trailer for the reality contest King of the Nerds. This minute-long commercial has no fewer than 64 cuts, incredibly dramatic music, butt slapping, and fire. It has all the qualities a good commercial should. It followed the general format of selling a television program. The typical job of a commercial is to entice the audience with the thrill of drama, the allure of sex, and the ability to watch one person beat a slew of others in a contest that has no relevance to real life. Job well done!
This otherwise effective trailer lacked in only one area: nerd symbolism. There’s a large 20-sided dice and a reference to The Lord of the Rings, but the true nerd would look though this charade as a shameless attempt for viewers. Almost all the contestants look to be acne-free and socially acceptable; those are not the qualities of a nerd. The nerd community will not find commonality with extroverts looking to win a contest on television.
An accurate snapshot of a house with eleven nerds in it would be incredibly dull to the audience. For example, a nerd house would be comprised of each member on their respective gaming/computer console being digitally entertained. One may be combing reddit, correcting random commenter’s grammar, while another would be on the Xbox attaining 100% completion in a video game in which they’ve logged over 400 hours. Every few hours one of them would get up to make a bowl of cereal/ramen/Easy Mac™. This does not make for interesting television. One can only assume from this that the contestants are therefore NOT real nerds.
Burke’s pentad shows us in this commercial the agent is be the narrator, the agency is the contestants, the purpose is to get viewers to watch, the act is competition, and the scene is the house where the competition is held. The relationship of priority in this scenario is the purpose-act ratio. While the narrator plays an important role in describing what the show is about, it’s no more important than the visual aspects of the piece. It would completely defeat the point of having the commercial at all without the need to get viewers (purpose). In opposition to that, the competition (act) of these anonymous “nerds” is the main ploy of the show (based on what we see from this trailer).
More interesting is the analysis of Burke’s use of identification in respects to the commercial, specifically how identification “may be used as a means to an end” (p. 192). The television program The Big Bang Theory (also shown on the same network) has caused many people to identify with the nerd community who otherwise would have shunned the same concept, but now that nerd-dom has hit the mainstream and got itself a hot, blonde girlfriend, everyone sees it as socially acceptable and wants to say they are a part of it.
Let’s postulate that the commercial was not trying to only gain the nerd audience, but also people who attempt to embody the antithesis of what a nerd stands for. These people would be intrigued to watch the show because they will be able to see a single nerd succeed where others have failed, a typical aspect of the American dream. This example joins the interests of the contestants and the viewer since the viewer believes his or herself to be better than a nerd in the first place, making that viewer more of a winner. This is a principal of Burke’s second type of identification.
Burke’s third type of identification works at the subconscious level. The type of viewer who identifies on this level may not realize that they are watching merely to prove themselves a friend to the nerds. Unknown circumstances may have created a stigma to being seen as a bully to nerds and therefore obligates them to watch the show. A good example would be a jock that used to break glasses, give the occasional swirly, and maybe even dreaded atomic wedgies to his unfortunate nerd classmates in high school. Entering adulthood and learning the error of this ways causes him to wish to make amends the only way he can, cheering through a television screen.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the absolute worst part of this commercial; the man at the end grating his forced laughter through my ears and into my brain. It leaves me wondering why this was necessary. The commercial is over and I won’t want to leave the volume (or television) on at all after that. In fact, I may rip the cable box from the wall and set it on fire. This is why I can’t have nice things (and why Verizon refuses to give me any more cable boxes).
Overall I felt the commercial was effective. While it did not win this nerds viewership, it did intrigue me enough to watch a few contestant introductions and to elicit my classmates on their opinion. I may even watch an episode or two in the future, but it’s doubtful since I feel that “reality” television eats one’s soul.

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