Bob Dylan's Super Bowl Ad: Selling Out, or Sign of the Times?

Categories: WTF

DylanSuperBowlMain.jpg
By Erik Thompson

The decades-old debate about what constitutes "selling out" in music has grown to become a tired one. The music industry itself has irrevocably changed. Music has become so ubiquitous in advertising, movies, TV, and video games, that drawing any type of line in the taste-making sand over what selling out truly means in this day and age is ultimately a futile and foolish endeavor.

Yet Bob Dylan's appearance in a Chrysler ad during the Super Bowl last night proves that there are still plenty of fans with their pitchforks (and clever hashtags) ready to skewer any musician that they believe has crossed over that illusory line from respectable artist to corporate shill.

Now, the message that Dylan delivers during the expensive ($16 million) two-minute ad is ultimately a good one, especially for anyone interested in American commerce and the revitalization of the U.S. auto industry. Sure, the image of one of the most iconic songwriters in American history blandly repeating advertising copy is initially a shocking one. But Dylan has appeared in commercials before -- in a Cadillac Escalade advert from 2007, his recent Pepsi spot with Will i.am., and who can forget Bob creepily cavorting around with Victoria's Secret models seven years ago. (And, even his hero Woody Guthrie was the host of Model Tobacco Company's radio program, Pipe Smoking Time, back in the the 1940s.)

Advertising clearly isn't new territory for Dylan, and he's made a career out of brazenly flouting the expectations of his fans by doing exactly the opposite of what people predict. Quite frankly, he doesn't really care what we think, and never really has. That is part of what makes him Bob Dylan, and one of the many reasons why we love him so.

My issue with Dylan's Chrysler spot doesn't have anything to do with him actually appearing in an advertisement at all. I just wanted the ad itself to be better, and to come close to being worthy of the iconic legend who is starring in it. Now, for a man not accustomed to delivering many messages that don't come in song form, perhaps it remains out of Dylan's realm to breathe much life into any lengthy monologue, especially rather trite ad copy.

Continue to page two for more.


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27 comments
Pat Cannon
Pat Cannon

Liked it! Long ago Dylan refused to be predictable! He still rocks!

Chris Reimer
Chris Reimer

it's possible Dylan believes in America. i'm sure there was a paycheck too, but he might really believe the things he was saying

Alexander Wilson
Alexander Wilson

He is still fighting for the underdog... an American car company.

Andrew Pirk
Andrew Pirk

There is no such thing as a musician selling out anymore

Brian Lewis
Brian Lewis

It still raises my eyebrows how overrated Dylan is.

Epic Coffeetime
Epic Coffeetime

Except they didn't have any murdered women in the commercial.

John Bailey
John Bailey

Bob Dylan's playing an electric guitar at Newport raised a number of eyebrows among purists -- but should it have? What do you think?

David Biernbaum
David Biernbaum

He is at a time of his life where the ad was very appropriate.

Adam Lange
Adam Lange

That was one of my favorite in a time when we don't support our country's manufacturing as much as we should I thought it was a good commercial

Ann Stillwell
Ann Stillwell

I thought is was way to long and boring. Dylan looked great though for his age.

Kevin Dill
Kevin Dill

I was more interested in saying let the Germans make your beer. Good beer comes from all over the world thankfully and I am happy so many good people make good beer. Cheers!

Kristina Cheeseman
Kristina Cheeseman

Did we already forget about that crap Victoria's Secret commercial he did some odd years ago?

Norma Cole Sosko
Norma Cole Sosko

I am glad so many people know what is best for others and how they should do things. Whatever. He can do a commercial for anything. Its his choice his money.

Norm Sheble
Norm Sheble

my only bitch with the commercial is he notes made in America but frankly the Chrysler Plant here in Fenton was closed down and moved to Mexico. It was ranked one of the top 5 facilities and quality producers and they put everyone on the streets, locked it up and moved. So much for American Built & Dreams.

John Hindes
John Hindes

I don't have an opinion about his participation in the commercial, but what's with all the sloppy voice-overs these days? It's painful to watch.

Fred Beelman
Fred Beelman

The man deserves, and has earned the right to do any DAMN thing he wants to....

Lin Staum
Lin Staum

If they put a dress on him, I would have swore it was Blanche Devaroe

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