Intellectual Curiosities and Provocations

Brothers in Underpants

By Caryn Thurman on Thursday, March 16, 2006 05:44 pm
No, they're not the Baldwins ... they're not even and . I'm talking about Mopekey and Humkin, the two underwear clad, cereal-loving brothers who make up the central imaginary characters of Lincoln-Mercury's new viral marketing campaign of "webisodes" known as "The Neverything".

Say what?

Have I lost my mind, you ask? Possibly, but before I cross over into the hyperreality of absurdist fiction and car commercials, perhaps you'd like to come along?

Quite simply, "" is a tightly crafted, well-produced mini-film series (and associated interactive website, of course) with the ultimate goal of getting people to talk about the sheer bizarre-kooky-Napoleon Dynamitesque approach ... and Lincoln-Mercury products. But it's not just the oddball factor that makes this so appealing (and it is appealing). There are dark elements, humor and real intelligence driving the concept behind the story.

"The Neverything" revolves mostly around two brothers living on a ship in the middle of a field. They have no outside contact with anyone but the milkman who brings their "sustenance". They survive on cereal (which looks an awful lot like Kix) and run around in their underwear all day. Sounds a lot like college, I know. The trick is -- they don't actually exist -- they're fictional characters created by a struggling novelist named Marian Walker (who is also, for our purposes, fictional). While we learn about the strange world of Humkin and Mopekey out in their field of nothing, we also find out that Marian has started to blur the lines of what is real life and what is happening in her developing novel. Which makes sense as she intentionally creates one of the characters to have an awareness that she's writing about him ... Are you starting to catch the /Calvino-style drift here?

As if that weren't enough to pull you in and make your head spin at the same time, there's a movie and corresponding site that focuses on the perspective of the author, called , brought to you by Lincoln (while "The Neverything" is specifically attributed to Mercury.)

What does all this mean? What does it have to do with selling a car and furthermore what does it have to do with literature? I'll leave it to you to come up with your own answers, but the whole phenomenon has already started to generate some buzz, mainly by ad industry types and perplexed onlookers. I'm not sure what more to say ... and perhaps I've said too much already; however the convoluted, intriguing, highly addictive storyline and motivation behind it may just possibly be the most clever bit of writing and creativity I've seen in a long while.

And I'm not even in the market for a new car.
4 Responses to "Brothers in Underpants"

by Mila on

How surreal but how generousThank you for pointing this out. I liked it. It has the candeur of childish games and has its tender moments. Mlla

by panta rhei on

Playing with IdentityInteresting concept, playing with the notion of identity.Both metafiction and advertising play with our collective, individual and cultural understandings of who we are. Metafiction destabilizes traditional notions of identity by illuminating the multiple and fragmented facets of the self, using particular forms of language to produce perspectives on questions of identity, while advertising in all its current and culturally popular forms of media addresses, challenges, satirizes, or illuminates the culturally saturated notion of identity by using distinctive messages in form of images or language to create perspectives on identity.This campaign is a combination of both of these ways to play with the idea of human subjectivity, and I think that this is a very clever concept.

by Billectric on

Cool.Before I ever heard the term "metafiction" I was always drawn to things like that. They are like games played with plot and characters. Like going to another level.Sponsorship can be good. If the fat cats pay you to create art, make sure it's good art. That's what I always say. This is an extension of the quote I read by some director, but I can't remember who it was. He said he went into TV commercials because it was most challenging to put across an entire little story plot with a beginning, middle, & end, all in 20 or 30 seconds.