Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh, (Levi's Jeans-Wearing) Pioneers!

No doubt in an attempt to sell more jeans, Levi's has decided to link its past with the future through a new digital scavenger hunt that blends the real and virtual worlds. Their site explains:

Although a total marketing ploy, I have to admit that as a young person, I find it pretty effective. A writer at the The Generativity Tribune screams an emphatic, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Within this 30 second advertisement I had become a young person ready to fight. For what I was unsure, but mesmerized I would do whatever Levi’s ‘Go Forth’ was telling me to do.” He or she was referring to the television ad seen here.

But is there something deeper to this commercial? thinks so. “‘Go Forth,’ present[s] an optimistic tone in a time of pessimism in the United States. The online, print, and television elements borrow words and concepts from American poet Walt Whitman to establish a pioneering tone for the ‘New Americans’”

Now here’s the interesting part for all you English teachers out there…

Can Levi’s jeans make Walt Whitman cool again? Can a Walt Whitman poem make
Levis jean fly off the shelves? And most importantly, would the Great Gray Poet approve of his poem being used for this crass commercialization — or did he write the poem to be heard and this is just a new medium for his original message?

Check out a downloadable version of the poem to share with your class — or get a good, old-fashioned hard copy like Uncle Walt would have done.

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