Completely by chance, the only bit of the entire Superbowl I happened to see was the Bob Dylan car commercial. I used to be a Dylan fan, but I found it instantly laughable and annoying. I did not bother watching the rest of the game, or the advertising blitz it was a platform for. I tried to content myself with a brief Facebook vent: "I walk in the room long enough to see Bob Dylan selling cars. I walk out."
But today, I find this defense of the commercial as laughable and annoying as the commercial itself:
Let’s be clear: Dylan’s greatest asset over the course of his long and still-going-strong career is precisely his willingness to disappoint and shock his fans and force them to reconsider their relationship to their singing savior.
Come on. Aside from the fact that a commercial is not an album (does the former really have to be counted as part of Dylan's "career"?), and aside from the fact that Gillespie's celebration of Dylan's "willingness to disappoint and shock" is really just a disingenuous swipe at Sixties liberalism, his argument is pretty weak on aesthetics too. Lauding an artist's desire to go against the grain for its own sake (Dylan "changes identities as often as most of us change our socks," and so on) is as tiresome as lauding an artist for being predictable -- indeed, it is a kind of predictability. Anyone who really cares about art (and has graduated from high school) knows that there is good art that lives up to expectations and is comforting, and there is bad art that is disappointing and shocking. It takes a special kind of speciousness to assume that only the opposite can be true.
My own reaction to the commercial had less to do with shock or disappointment -- no plaintive cries "oh no, they got Bob Dylan!" here -- than with an overwhelming sense of frustrated rage at the sheer tedium of what I was witnessing. Of course they got Bob Dylan. Someday they will get Springsteen. Hell, someday they may even get Woody. That's just the way Capitalism works. But why the fuck should I spend my valuable time on it? I'm not even in the market for a car.