Elen sila lumenn omentielvo!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ahhh, Buffalo...time has ravaged your once youthful looks.

I have a hard time taking this video, made ostensibly by the Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitor's Bureau to market the city, seriously in any way.



The photography is excellent, I'll admit: the video really makes Buffalo look beautiful. And really, Buffalo has a lot of beauty going for it. (Trouble is, it's often hidden and hard to find because it's behind some ugly stuff.) And I really like the logo they've come up with for Buffalo, which comes onscreen at the very end.

But everything else about this is crap.

Mostly, it's because of the tone of the damned thing. There's no hint of any excitement, and future, about Buffalo in this video. This is "Hey, have you ever wanted to live in a Ken Burns documentary? Move to Buffalo!" It's Buffalo as the Land of Wilford Brimley, where every day starts with a big bowl of Quaker Oats before we slowly walk off to slowly work at our jobs before going home slowly to live our slow lives. Buffalo: where everybody always knows when Matlock is on.

I just hate the approach here -- the constant drumbeat of "Buffalo is awesome because we've got loads of old stuff" that one listens to around here, for one thing, which is Exhibit A in this video. Look, when you're Athens, Greece, you can play the "Come here for our awesome old stuff!" card. But when you're a two-hundred-year old city in America, well...there's old stuff everywhere.

I also hate hate hate hate this whole "Real America" business. To be fair, I hate "Real America" stuff in any context, whether it's trying to sell a city or trying to sell a Republican candidate for something. I really dislike the attempt to sell the city on the basis that we appeal to the white-picket-fences mindset (with the only nod to non-white America being "Oh, and there's a really old jazz club here, too").

Someday Buffalo's going to get it right. It has to. No losing streak lasts forever...right?

UPDATE: Oh, by the way, the Convention and Visitor's Bureau has a really bad website. What an awful mishmash of stuff they have there. Wow.

5 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

You know what word I hate? "Heartland" as in the "heartland of America", the "real" America" as opposed to those folks on the coasts.

And it sounds as though Buffalo is trying, in its ham-fisted way, to say to America, "Hey, we're not NYC, we're hundreds of miles away. we're just like you." To be fair, most Americans west of Cleveland think all of NYS IS NYC.

Jaquandor said...

Yeah, "heartland" sucks. Not a big fan of that one, either. Ditto "flyover country", which also has a chip-on-the-shoulder thing going on.

Funny observation about people west of Cleveland. I ran into that when I went to college in Iowa and had to explain to more than a few people that Buffalo really isn't close to New York City. They'd ask me if I go there on weekends, and I'd say, "Do you go to the Twin Cities every weekend?" And they'd say, "No, that's 200 miles away." And I'd reply, well, it's twice that from Buffalo to NYC.

But then, it went the other way, too; I'd tell people from here that I was going to school in Iowa and I'd get one of two responses: "Wow, that's the state that's corn from one border to the other!", or they'd confuse Iowa and Idaho and ask me why I was going to where they grow all the potatoes.

blue girl said...

"No losing streak lasts forever...right?"

Well, I'm from Cleveland, so, you know....

Jaquandor, you should email your critique of the promo to the people who did this. It's very well written and right on the money.

Quince said...

Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland, Gary, Millwaukee all seemed to be experiencing an end to the natural growth cycle of a 20th century city.

Detroit has lost a quarter of its pop in the last 10 years alone.
Cleveland has a pop of just 400k down from over a million.

The problem for us is that we have never witnessed "city death" on such a large scale before, so it is going to be difficult to process.

I mean when you have the infrastructure for a million people how do cope with half that? How do you ration fire, police etc?

Detroit is starting an initiative to litterally shrink the outerrings by demolishing entire wards forcing the few remaining residents to flee or live in isolation. Things like this are hard to process.

Problem with these cities is they are doughnuts: peripheries that are often vibrant but dead city centers.

Doug said...

It reminds me of a UPMC (Un. of Pittsburgh Medical Center) TV ad, which sounds like a video for showing at a corporate board of directors meeting, Trying to be uplifting, but coming across as stuffy.