Macy’s Ad Dissonance -or- How Rent Sold Out
Have you seen the latest Macy’s commercial?
It is absolutely touching. Sweet imagery married to a lovely song about remembering the past year. How could they go wrong?
The song in the commercial, “Seasons of Love”, is from the musical Rent, based on the opera La Boheme, about the lives of starving artists in New York fighting the good fight for art over profit (and the horror of AIDS). The way the song works in that context is by first questioning if you can quantitatively measure the true worth of a year (daylight, sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee) but ultimately settles on the qualitative (love). It is not a matter of things but feelings.
When I think of Macy’s, I think of things rather than feelings. It is perhaps the epitome of materialism. I think Jonathan Larson, if he truly believed in his message, would turn in his grave if he knew his family turned him into a sellout by allowing the song to be used this way.