Capital One

Capital One's Commercial Starring Jennifer Garner And Her Father Is An Affront To Humanity

Herewith: a measured, not-at-all hysterical plea to have everyone involved in this ad drawn and quartered.

One of the silver linings of my moving back home this year -- millennials with English degrees, amiright? -- is that I once again have cable in my life. My fellow twentysomethings may claim they're happy subsisting on borrowed HBO GO passwords and grainy torrents of The Walking Dead, but the vast majority are lying to you. Cable is the best. Cable's got your back. Cable knew we were too despondent on election night to decide which item in our Netflix queues to tackle next, so it presented us with A League of Their Own, fifteen minutes in, after Jon Lovitz's dumb recruiter character had already shuffled offscreen.

I appreciate cable enough that its primary disadvantage -- commercials -- typically does not irk me. In fact, as someone who's obnoxiously self-diagnosed myself with ADHD, I sometimes appreciate the forced break from focusing on the troubles of, say, whoever's getting molested on SVU this hour.

That said, these past couple of months, I've been regularly subjected to one commercial which sparks in me the desire to burn our TV to ashes, so tainted is it by this ad's awfulness that I question whether anything of value can be displayed on it again.

Please consider this Capital One Venture Card commercial, starring everyone's least-interesting second cousin, Jennifer Garner:

No matter how many times I've seen it, I've yet to become even remotely numb to its horrors. In fact, my white-hot rage is stoked more with each viewing, as every repetition arrives with a reminder that no one has yet felt the need to remove it from airplay and erase all evidence of its existence. I am not a crackpot.

The premise of this ad is that it's not an ad at all. There is no pitching the benefits of a Venture Card to be found. Instead, it's staged as a behind-the-scenes interview, as if Access Hollywood sent a reporter to film a puff piece to promote Garner's work in this commercial. Garner even refers to her relationship with Capital One as a "working" one, like she and the execs at C1 HQ are the advertising equivalent of Leo and Marty, merging their talents to sell as many credit cards as possible.

In the commercial BTS interview, Garner, seated in a director's chair, in front of a fictional airplane set -- presumably in which she filmed a real commercial -- tells a (not remotely) charming anecdote about her father's calling up Capital One's customer service line to request the "Jennifer Garner card." Bullshit he did.

I know I'm yelling into a void by bitching that the story Garner tells (which she's clearly reading off cue cards placed where the interviewer of this shitshow should be sitting) is an obvious fiction, but I can't help being insulted that the ad agency that cooked up this garbage stew thinks so little of us as a species they believe even a single human being would be convinced this tale is based in reality. I'm sure there was a point when some people in this country would smoke Camels because they wanted to be like John Wayne, but no one is that naïve anymore. (Naïve enough to believe an article forwarded by a woman in their regular bridge game describing how President Obama personally injects our avocados with gay pheromones? Sure. But not naïve enough to believe Shaq is promoting Icy Hot because he's particularly passionate about the way it eases his aches and pains after a long day of doing whatever the fuck it is Shaq occupies his time with these days.)

Upon hearing Mr. Garner's name, Jennifer tells us the customer service rep jokingly asked, "Are you related to Jennifer?" Again: BULL. SHIT. I count among my illustrative list of menial job experiences a four-month stint as a CS rep for Netflix. It is miserable, tedious work. No one is in the mood to crack wise with the endless collection of cranks calling us up. Once, an elderly woman bitched me out because she believed her account had been hacked. She came to this conclusion because saw a row of movies labeled "Films Enjoyed by Claire Underwood." Now that is a fun anecdote.

Back to Capital One. In response, Papa Garner ostensibly "proudly" replied, "In fact, she is my middle daughter." It's after this line reading, halfway through this already excruciating commercial, when I strongly consider chopping off a finger-tip to distract myself with the pain. It's not that Jennifer Garner is a bad actor. (She's not particularly great either. The primary descriptor that comes to mind when considering her skill level is "there." If anyone tells you they can't imagine Alias without Garner playing Sydney Bristow, it's only because they lack imagination.) It's just that her impression of her alleged father bragging about his spawn being Hollywood's eighty-fourth most notable Jennifer is so eminently punchable.

I know you can't punch an impression, but I will gladly donate what few funds I have to help bankroll the development of a technology that will allow me to pop that impression in its ugly, smarmy face.

To conclude this open, festering wound of a commercial, Jennifer's father walks into frame, stiffly places his arm around his daughter's shoulder, and asks if he can say Capital One's completely meaningless catchphrase. I won't reprint said catchphrase here, because I've already donated enough free content to the Beelzebubs at Capital One that allowed this commercial to happen, but it's the one you more likely associate with Samuel L. Jackson, not the bowl of room-temperature porridge that is Jennifer Garner.)

Jennifer -- again, with an almost unfathomable degree of obnoxiousness -- tells her dad, "Go ahead." He says it, they awkwardly side-hug, and Jennifer laughs unconvincingly, closes her eyes, and condescendingly says, "Nice job, dad," like he's an infirm elder presenting her with a scarf he spent a month knitting in Shady Pines. Offscreen, with guns pointed at them, the crew uproariously laughs and applauds.

Then it's over and I begin the hours-long process of regaining control of my extremities, which I lost during those thirty seconds, causing me to knock over every piece of furniture in my rage.

Look, times are tough. On top of everything else, it's been a shit year for pop culture. Seemingly every cool, influential musician died, The Big Bang Theory is still the highest-rated show on TV in its tenth season, and we just elected America's worst reality show host (and person) as leader of the free world. But I believe if there's any chance of achieving unity as a nation, it's through a collective repudiation of this utterly offensive excuse for a commercial. Take to the streets. Call your elected representatives. Organize public burnings of 13 Going On 30. Let's work together to make the airwaves safe for human consumption again.


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