Sunday, December 4, 2011

Joost and product placement

Yesterday, I just saw The Way with the gf. Seeing it made me wonder if someone in a culture ministry read my Christmas post about promoting Dutch language and culture.* The movie is a long, wonderful commercial for visiting Spain and walking the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, whether you're Catholic or not. Martin Sheen is the lead character, and he is the only one who wears visible brand names. Product placement roars.

It appears that someone took one of my suggestions for promoting the Netherlands, but contradicted another. Joost, the number one sidekick, is Dutch. I had suggested using product placement methods to put Dutch characters on American shows. It looks like that was done. Joost always mentions where he's from more than any other character. He's from Amsterdam, which is the only Dutch city I have ever seen promoted as a tourist destination. Still, I found myself wondering why not Eindhoven or Wageningen. If Joost was Dutch due to product placement, my advice was not taken in terms of the character himself. Through most of the film, he is a fat, jolly pot smoker, sort of a stoned hipster Santa Claus, passing out joints and sleeping pills. He walks to lose weight. Later, we find out his poignant back story.

While a lot has been written concerning what the film is about, it is really about the Sheen/Estevez family and who they wish they were, given current events. The father is rich, but not famous. He is in Ventura, which is only close to the craziness of Malibu geographically. A son dies at the beginning, but he's in pursuit of a worthwhile goal.

In spite of the product placement, The Way is worth seeing.

*A long shot, but I would like to think they did.