film / tv / substack / social media / lists / web / celeb / pajiba love / misc / about / cbr
film / tv / substack / web / celeb


Stadium Not Included: 7 Traumatic Commercials Burned Into Our Brains As Kids

By Joe Starr | Lists | July 22, 2015 |

By Joe Starr | Lists | July 22, 2015 |

When I was in middle school, one day instead of doing work we watched a video (yay!) about the powers of marketing (boooo). They showed us all the tricks about how that cereal looks delicious because it’s not milk, it’s shiny glue in a bowl, or how that Mondo Gecko Ninja Turtle action figure looked cooler because he was floating around in a neat sewer set that you yourself would never have. I have always disagreed on that point: Mondo Gecko looked cool anytime, anyplace.

It wasn’t the coolest video I got to watch in middle school. The Voyage of the Mimi starring a young Ben Affleck and a really weird Terry Gilliamesque Spanish language video called “Me Gusta” take that award. But, it has been stuck in my head ever since — almost as much as most of the commercials it was trying to warn me about.

One in particular has never left my brain: It’s been like that summer that Modest Mouse released “Float On” except it’s been 30 years and instead of crashing cars into a cop car the other day, it’s a laser tag commercial.

Pretty sure you know the one.

WHAT THE HELL IS THIS COMMERCIAL? I didn’t even care that the stadium didn’t come with the guns and vest. I didn’t even want to play. I just wanted to see more about that cool 80’s hair chick fighting the bald twins. Who was that guy with the big weird eye piece? Is he the armorer? Is he keeping an eye on the combatants? Are they prisoners? I have to know! They all gave each other knowing looks before going into the arena … Is tonight the night they bust out of Laser Tag Jail? Is the cool guy that gives the little nostril flare going to go along with the plan? IS HE?

I used to get more excited about this commercial than the shows I was watching. I’m positive I gave them all names and backstories. Honestly, it would be weird if I hadn’t, because very few things have changed about me since I was 8.

Anyway, I decided to make Facebook useful the other day instead of my usual grumblings about how Ant-Man won’t be good and my inevitable acknowledgement that yeah it was pretty good but there’s no way they pull off so many characters in Civil War, and asked my friends if they had similar commercials seared into their central nervous system as children.

These are some of my favorites that came up.

I can’t think of a better place to start than CROSS FIYAH. The world of Crossfire seems weirdly linked to Laser Tag. Maybe these kids in their bad ass turtlenecks, fingerless gloves and leather jackets are training for the games, hoping to graduate from marbles to REAL ACTUAL LASERS.

I don’t think I actually owned this game, or ever played it. I doubt my parents would have let the kid that named the characters in a commercial near a thing where you leaned as close to a gun as you could while it shot marbles at your eyes. Was Crossfire even fun, or was it a stupid thing with a great song, like Thundercats?

You heard me.

Also please notice that those kids fly onto a giant Crossfire board on hoverboards shaped like Crossfire pieces and then play Crossfire inside of that giant Crossfire board. SOMEONE FIND ME AN XZIBIT MEME IMMEDIATELY.

Hey it’s that Ferris Bueller guy! I think he hosts Loveline now or something. Well, he sucks at teaching, so thank god Suspenders here has glowing party drugs in his desk. Look at the way his eyes roll into the back of his head. That girl won’t even break eye contact while they’re biting into those cookies. Popped a molly. They’re sweatin.’

This commercial honestly makes me so uncomfortable. I know it’s just fun guitar party music, but I can’t help but hear the Requiem soundtrack under it. “Can you explain that again?” FWA NAH! FWANA NANA! FWANA NANA WANNA NAH FWANA NANA WANNA NAH

I had zero recollection of this until Dracula sends Frank back for dip and then it all flooded back to me: kids rightfully screaming because Frankenstein’s monster has murdered a Pepsi truck driver and stolen his vehicle and an extra playing the Bride who is praying enough of her face gets on camera to get a union voucher.

Also I guess proper packaging really is a thing, because the idea of eating Doritos out of that gross looking bag just seems gross. I’d have to have at least two Sprinkled Chips Ahoy to be high enough. FWA NAH

Remember when Tim and Eric made Bubbletape commercials?

I wanted to put some space between this one and Laser Tag and Crossfire so we weren’t just hitting the same note but holy hell this commercial is stressful. We were being chased by NINJAS and there are electrodes attached to our head and then THEY MURDERED TIM holy hell were all 80’s commercials just weird plans to keep youth support for the Cold War strong?

“AND NOW IT’S JUST ME! I buried Tim there, in that forest of death. I can only hope his ghost gets deep into the roots of that hellscape and chokes the life out of it. Goodbye, old friend.”

What in the hell were they doing to us back then? No wonder I believe in chemtrails.

I wasn’t not going to get the Skip It theme in your head. And I’m not sorry, either.

I was planning on including the Encyclopedia Britannica kid that lives in a white room and talks to an omnipresent voice, but there’s enough weird stuff there that I kind of want to devote an entire article to him. So what weird marketing ploys from our youths did I miss? Share them in the comments and let’s all remember a better time when we were more easily brainwashed.

Joe Starr is a comedian in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter