Groupon And A Greater Good

by Zoe Pollock

Via Alexis, Aaron Bady nails why people are up in arms about Groupon's Super Bowl whale and Tibet ads:

Reading people's complaints about Super Bowl commercials, I'm struck by the feeling that what people are really upset by is the basic fact that the capitalist profit motive is an amoral drive. Yet since that can't register as a scandal -- capitalism, you see, is good! -- we instead use vague, almost meaningless sentences like "in poor taste." The joke of the Groupon commercials, after all, is the foolishness of people who think commerce can be a form of social good. The joke makes no sense unless you accept the disconnect between selfish-desire (purchasing) and social good (charity).

Side note, Christopher Guest directed them! Monika Bartyze explains the ad concept:

[T]he ads didn't reveal that the site was hoping to help these causes. They're raising money for each cause in their "PSA Parodies," and will match donations up to $100,000 for the three featured charities -- Rainforest Action Network, buildOn and the Tibet Fund. On top of that, the site is prepared to offer credits up to $100,000 for those who contribute to Greenpeace.

The AV Club wonders:

If a joke has to be explained, it's not that great of a joke. But does it make a difference if, once the joke is explained, it's pretty funny?