A Copywriter’s Blog
VIRUS Ben Levy 21, August

When I was 12, I wrote a comic book. I don’t think I finished it until I was 14, and I know I bugged the shit out of everyone with it for those two years.

I found the comic, scanned it, and spent entirely too much time retyping dialogue. Then I added commentary to nearly every page. Partially so you could all enjoy reading my inner voice, and partially to ensure that no one would ever come across this and think I did it yesterday.

Screen Shot 2012-08-21 at 10.37.34 PM

From the forward:

When I was 12, I started a comic book.

When I was 29, I wrote a 1,000-word critique of it.

This is VIRUS. A comic drawn by 12-year old me, about 12-year old me getting struck by lighting, zapped into my computer, and fighting a digitized villain through a series of games.

I’m the hero of the story. The room, hairstyle, and games are all accurate to my life in ‘95. If you keep this in mind while reading, everything is roughly 400x funnier.

Thank you, Joe, for reminding me this existed. Thank you, Mom, for making sure I kept all my old art.

Click here to download.


Comments Off
Satan needs a space heater Ben Levy 2, February

This post may have kicked off an entire category on BrokenJPG that’s produced some of my most popular rants. But make no mistake- I was using humor as a defense against the horrible, mind-searing agony of the monumental fuck-fest that was the first live-action GI Joe movie.

It still stands as one of the shittiest piles of excrement to ever get squeezed out of Hollywood. It didn’t have to be the greatest film of all time. It just had to be campy. Or have over-the-top action. Or avoid putting an entire generation’s beloved childhood heroes into fucking mech suits like some kind of anime fan-fiction.

But the live-action GI Joe film failed all these things. It failed them so badly that even though I didn’t ever see this crapfest, when the trailer for the second came around, I called it shit again. My friends told me I was wrong, that ninja’s fighting on the side of a cliff was pretty damn awesome. But my eyes were blinded by the stinging remains of the feces from years past. I would not- nay, I could not- take a chance. Some trauma is too deep.

But then, this morning, I saw this.

That is a trailer that starts out with Dwayne The Rock/Roadblock Johnson quoting Jay Z. And then using the song that was just quoted as the soundtrack. Which includes ninjas shooting bullets at shuriken, ninjas stabbing other ninjas on the side of a cliff, and Bruce Willis shooting a machine gun out the back of a pickup.

Do you hear that, dear readers? That’s the sound of my cold, blackened heart beginning to beat once more. Am I scared? Terrified. Would I have thought it possible that I would even consider seeing the sequel of the cinematic sin that launched a thousand (or, like, ten) angry posts? No, I would not.

But that looks like a great “bad” movie. And that’s all we ever needed it to be.

Comments Off
Universal Appeal Ben Levy 25, July

You heard about these Zhu Zhu pets? They’re robotic hamsters that make all sorts of sounds when you touch them and roll around on motorized wheels. A few years ago they were the “it” toy on black friday, although I don’t recall them sparking the same murderous zeal that Tickle Me Elmo inspired. You’ve probably seen them around:

The guys responsible for these toys are brilliant. To start with, they chose a creature whose mental faculties are about the same as a half-eaten box of cheez-its. Which means that since Zhu Zhu’s can move under their own power and communicate through a variety of noises, they’re actually slightly smarter than their biological counterparts. Then the creators were savvy enough to sell cages and tunnels for the little bastards. By the time a kid is done wringing money out of their parents, they’ve managed to construct a hamster dream home for a pet that isn’t even alive.

You’d think the parents would be pissed, but I bet they love the autonomous bastards. They’ll never shit anywhere, and you never have to bury them in the backyard after a long and tear-filled conversation about life, death, and hamster heaven with your five year old.

Seriously, the people behind these things were mad geniuses. The only hole in their plan is that no guy will ever buy one. Because a full-blooded male raised on a steady diet of G.I. Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is never gonna be seen playing with the same hamster toy that Susie from down the street owns.

Oh you brilliant, diabolical, BASTARDS.

Comments Off
Shut-up, Younger Me Ben Levy 16, May

The Wife is officially on vacation. She saves baby’s lives for a living, and therefore is about a trillion times more useful to humanity than I am, so I think she’s earned it. I wanted to mark the occasion by surprising her with dinner.

Before you get all excited about how I burned down the kitchen, succumbed to smoke inhalation, and had my unconscious form dragged to safety by the dog, let me tell you that everything went off without a hitch. (Well, the fire alarm went off once, but that happens if you shut the door too strongly, so it doesn’t count.)

No, what I wanted to share was part of the conversation that occurred with a friend of mine before I started cooking. We’ve known each other since we were four, or some similarly preposterous small number. Growing up, he was the friend I told everything to. Not my best friend, but my Best Friend.

Incidentally, he also has an excellent recipe for salmon, which he gave me over the phone.

“Oh and by the way” he told me afterward “we’ve now just officially had a phone conversation to exchange dinner recipes. Our 8-year old selves are laughing at us right now.”

I stood there for a second with my mouth open, fighting a sudden urge to make fart jokes and dig up some G.I. Joes to play with. I quickly tried to come up with some rationale for why 8-year old me would think knowing how to cook salmon was cool. But I’m not even sure 8-year old me liked salmon that much. Shit. I bet I would totally think I was a loser.

Then I realized that guy hadn’t even kissed a girl yet. So who cares what he thinks?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go play Lego Star Wars before I get any more mature.

Comments Off

But it won’t work. I’m on to you. After this, this, and this, I can spot your attempts to skullfuck the last remaining vestiges of my happy childhood memories from a mile away.

I’ll give you some credit, though. When I first heard you insidious franchise-fucking money whores had started filming an A-Team movie, I thought I knew what to expect. I was ready for the post to practically write itself.


But then I found an photo of Liam Neeson in costume, and he was the spitting image of Hannibal. And then I read it was being directed by Joe Carnahan, of Smoking Aces fame. How proud you must have been, Hollywood. I can see you steepling your fingers in a dark room and laughing to yourself. “He’ll totally buy it,” you cackle, as you chew on newborn children while their mothers watch, and think up new ways to ruin the Transformers franchise, “he’ll be too intrigued to hate the film. He’ll see too much potential.”


It almost worked too. I was ready to believe. I was fresh off Inglorious Basterds and District 9, and I told myself that maybe, just maybe, the A-Team movie wouldn’t be that bad.

Then I woke the hell up.

Smoking Aces was a thing of beauty. And Liam Neeson can be funny if you’re a little drunk and he’s not playing a dad. But neither of them are A-Team material. You’re not making the A-Team. You’re making a cinematic sin.

Your mistake, Hollywood, the thing that really proved to me that you were going to beat to death one more of my childhood loves with a phallus-shaped baseball bat, was this: UFC fighter “Rampage” Jackson as B.A. Barracus.


Mr. T isn’t dead, you sniveling, spineless, slack-jawed, mouth-breathing, twats. I defy you to tell me what the hell is wrong with casting him as (essentially) himself. Not a damn thing, that’s what. I know this movie isn’t really about the A-Team. It’s about some fuckwit who wasn’t smart enough to craft an original premise, so you just bought the rights to an old TV show and prayed that enough people would love the franchise to see it no matter how horribly you mangled the plot. But if you really want to bring in the hordes, why didn’t you morons at least get the single most memorable person from the original show? This could have been the Return of the Teletubbies in 3-D, but if it had Mr. T, being Mr. T, I’d have gone to see it. Twice. Now? You have nothing but my unrequited rage.

The only thing that would save this movie now is if the whole thing was a publicity stunt. Halfway through the advertising campaign, we discover that this movie is a plot to discredit the original A-Team, and they all reunite, jump in the van, and start busting the heads of every Hollywood dipshit responsible for this mess. That movie I would see (along with Mr. T and the Teletubbies).

But then, that was my fevered prayer for the GI Joe movie as well, and look how that turned out.

Comments Off
No Jury Will Convict Me Ben Levy 16, August

All of us had at least one moment in our childhood where we made a mistake. No, not a mistake. A critical, life-threatening error in judgement. We didn’t know it at the time. As soon as our parents discovered that we had given the family pet a haircut, turned the house into a swimming pool, or lit our sibling on fire, we figured it out. Their eyes grew impossibly wide before vanishing into slits. We heard the intake of breath as they swelled up and towered above us. And from the depths of this thing- our lifelong protector turned embodiment of rage- came forth a roar that rivaled the thunder of Zeuss himself:


Remember that moment. Close your eyes and return to it. Do you recall the timbre of those damning tones? Do you shiver in remembered terror? Good. Now read on.


death of decency

You have spit upon not only my childhood memories but my adult profession as well. You created this bastardization of nostalgia and marketing. A twisted horror that mocks all that I have lived for in my 26 years on this planet. This is not an error in judgement. This is not an ill-advised experiment. This is a mutation, a blight, a physical scar upon the very concept of decency itself.

I hope the sniveling, idiotic, fool responsible for this has already changed their name, address, and gender. It won’t stop me from finding them. But it will draw out my revenge.

Because I am coming for you. And when I find you, I will perpetrate such horrors upon you as to cause a Guantanamo Inquisitor to shudder and reach for his “idea journal”. Your end will not be swift. It will not be silent. It will not be clean.

I don’t know how you sleep at night. I hope it is with the fevered nightmares of a man who knows he has murdered the memories of children, and the waning respectability of an entire profession. I suggest you pray for a crushing death beneath a falling pallet of the very horrors you helped create. It will be kinder than what I do to you.


Q: What’s the worst joke you can tell someone, only it’s not a joke and when they realize you’re serious the laughter dies in their throat almost as quickly as their will to live?
A: Will Smith is re-making the Karate Kid.


This is not the first time the entertainment industry has tried to murder me via coronary by retroactively destroying my childhood. There was that Shite Rider crap. And the GI Joe movie (more on that in a few days). But this may be their master stroke.

This time they’re not content to simply exhume and anally violate one of the cornerstones of my childhood. No, this time they’ve conned one of the few actors I respect(ed) into doing it. They’ve discovered how to sodomize both my past and present simultaneously. If we’re lucky the resulting black hole from bending the space/time continuum this way will destroy us all before their plans are complete. If that doesn’t work, I’ll just smother myself in honey and hit bears with a baseball bat. Anything to lessen the pain.

I’m going to be honest here. This was not a bad idea because Jackie Chan is on board, and he’s old. It’s not a bad idea because supposedly the kid travels to China and learns Kung Fu, which isn’t fucking Karate you damned ignorant fucktards. It’s a horrible, flawed, embarrassingly bad idea because the entire premise behind Karate Kid is simply retarded.


I loved the Karate Kid. We all did. We all really, really wanted to believe that we could learn martial arts from some diminutive foreigner who was probably in the country illegally and start kicking bully’s asses left and right. I don’t know about you, but when I was ten, that was the American Dream.

And back then, it worked. It was a good movie. But -and I’m serious here- it only worked because we were idiots.

Listen to me Will Smith, or whoever is controlling the Will Smith robot suit that’s giving the orders- that was a simpler time. We all believed that painting fences and sanding floors might actually turn us into deadly fighting machines. It’s because we were stupid.

We’ve got the internet now. We’ve got the UFC. We know what real fighting looks like. And we know the truth is that if Daniel-son had gone into a real tournament, he would have been choking down his own excrement inside of 30 seconds. If repetitive motion automatically granted martial prowess, every right-handed male from the age of 11 and up would be kicking ass like Bruce Lee. (The lefties would be doing it mirrored) But that’s just not the way it works.


At the time, it was great. But we’re talking about a generation of kids who- and I’m including myself in this- honestly went home after seeing the movie and practiced the Crane Kick in the mirror. I mean we really fucking considered it for a minute. I have a tiny bit of experience in the martial arts, and I can promise if you tried to pull that shit in a fight the only reason it would work is because your opponent might laugh so hard that they rupture something. My point is that the film was great for it’s time. Leave it as a warm, fuzzy memory of a simpler time in our lives. You really can’t make this one cool again.

And as for you, Will Smith- No. NO. Bad, Will Smith. Very bad Will Smith. You go sit in the corner and think about what you’re potentially going to have done.

Comments Off
Ninja Teachings Ben Levy 17, February

I’m a teacher. (cue laugh track)

I’m done with school now, but I make it a point to go through life as a student, constantly looking for opportunities to learn from those better than myself (ie: just about everyone). Which meant that when the Ad School contacted me asking if I’d like to teach, it was a little weird. If I was still dedicating myself to learning, how could I possibly be ready to educate others?

I asked my CD (who also taught there) what he thought. He told me “It’ll force you to know your shit cold. There’s no way you can teach unless you do.” Which is interesting, because about sixteen years ago, Storm Shadow told me the same thing:


Now my reasons for showing that are two-fold. First, GI Joe ninja comic. That is just about the maximum amount of awesome I can take. Secondly, while the whole “Ninja Force” concept may have turned Storm Shadow into a tool, he and my creative director had a great point.

I’ve learned a lot by teaching others. There have been plenty of “ah-ha” moments for me, where I realize the reason why some things work and others don’t in the process of explaining them to the class. Instinctive techniques get replaced by conscious understanding.

I’m constantly energized after class, excited by the raw concepting that goes on when there’s no budget, no brief, no pressure to land the client. I always go into work the next day with my mind a little more open, a little less constrained.

Teaching for me is one part performance, and two parts education. This is partly because I’m under this horrible misconception that I’m funny, and standing at the front of the class makes me feel like I’m on stage at the improv. But also, I want my students to understand that this job is fun, damnit. One of my favorite moments teaching so far was when a student raised their hand and asked “Is this what it’s like at an agency? Are people really tossing around ideas in a group like this and laughing all day?”.

It is if they’re doing it right.

So even though I’m teaching, I’m still learning. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t pretend to. I’m sure I’ll get even better at this teaching thing if I keep doing it. For now, I parrot the lessons I learned at school: Write how you talk. No puns. Strategy first, everything else second. That’s not me talking, that’s the advertising greats I learned from. Well, it is me talking, but the words come from people a hell of a lot smarter than me. Like Storm Shadow.

The crappy jokes, those are all mine. Hopefully they’re just ignoring those.

Hollywood is trying to kill me Ben Levy 18, February

I ran across this on IMDB. It details the intended rape of my childhood. If they actually built a time machine, went back to 1987, found my old GI Joes, and forced them up my tiny, white, 4-yr old asshole, it would still not be as complete a rape as this…this… giant cinematic dildo they intend to wreak upon the earth.

This shit is so wrong, I can’t possibly write about it without wanting to kill. And so I will liberally sprinkle this posting with the sacred, hallowed imagery of my childhood. Know, dear reader, that each time you see a pic, it means that which follows is a detail of unspeakable foulness. We begin…

This is what IMDB had to say about it:

Stephen Sommers will direct (here’s hoping he reigns in the CG), from a script by Stuart Beattie. The story is set at Brussels-based GIJOE, an acronym for the Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, and revolves around an international co-ed force of operatives who use high-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil org headed by a Scottish arms dealer.

Just reading this fills me with such hate, its nigh indescribable. I won’t even try. I’m just going to count the ways this is wrong:

  1. GI Joe is a real AMERICAN hero you bastards. They’re more American than hamburgers, and yes I damn well do appreciate the irony in that statement. So take your “globally integrated joint triple redundant acronym” and stuff it.
  2. Look Mr Beattie (or as I shall henceforth call him, satan) you didn’t get the movie’s name right, so I don’t expect you to follow canon. But that “scottish arms dealer” is Destro. He never lead Cobra (except for those three times when he did). Cobra Commander leads Cobra. You might have been able to figure this out by the fact that his title is Commander. But I’m probably expecting too much.
  3. Last time I checked, there’s no Brussels in the US. Now I’m a true American, unlike Mr Somer and Mr Satan, which means my tenuous grasp of geography is so terrible I still believe the world is flat, and that countries are color-coded when you fly over them. But even I know Brussels isn’t in America. See point 1 of this list.

Ahhh….that’s better. I’ll level with you, I actually found out about this a week ago. But it’s taken me this long to be able to write about it without simultaneously spitting Hate and Rage (Hage) all over my monitor.

Let’s look at the cast list shall we? Hmmm….Dennis Quaid is General Hawk? Insert generic rant of hate here. First off, Hawk did next to nothing in the series. He was there mostly to scream at Flint, who was the actual leader. The one leading people into hails of bullets. He also scored with Lady Jay. Did you ever see Hawk score with Lady Jay? No. Therefore, Hawk doesn’t need to be in this movie, and neither does Quaid.

Flint’s not even in this travesty. Ok, who is included in “the film that must not be”. Snake Eyes? I hope you all die horrible, horrible deaths.

“But Ben,” you’re saying, “Snake-Eyes is the best character of all time! He could save this movie! The mighty power of the uber-ninja is just strong enough that he could save the entire world (from this film)!”

Yes gentle reader, that is true. But look at who’s playing him. No don’t look, that was rhetorical. The guy is crap. If it was Tony Ja, then there would be the vaguest possibility that it would be ok. That those going to the theaters would not rip out their seat cushions and attempt to swallow them whole as a means of making the pain stop. In fact, I know they picked the wrong person to play Snake-Eyes because unless they picked the re-animated corpse of Bruce Lee himself, there is no person on earth bad-ass enough to play Snake-eyes. And any of you who said Chuck Norris? You’re dead to me.

In conclusion, Hollywood is clearly trying to kill me of a massive coronary. Why else would they do this? We have a GI Joe movie, you heartless bastards, and it isn’t half bad. Not enough Snake Eyes for my taste, but still. What you’re doing is terrible, unnecessary, and has to break at least four tenants of the Geneva convention.

In a way, I feel horrible for staining the Broken JPG with this filth. It’s like trying to warn you of the apocalypse- no matter how early you’re told, you can’t avoid it. Seriously, I just looked it up, the four horsemen are plague, death, pokemon, and a live-action GI Joe movie set to air in 2009.