A Copywriter’s Blog
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.

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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.


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.