ukeleles in my brain

A twenty-something couple on a beach in autumn.  They run crazily, jump legs-outstretched, fall into each others arms. The hand held camera swerves and shakes. Its getting towards dusk and they’re half in silhouette. Its drizzling rain, the woman’s hair is damp and tousled, her cheeks between scarf and wooly hat are pink from the cold, rain drops run down the camera lens, and mixed with their laughter and the sound of waves breaking a ukele plays on the soundtrack.

What is this memory?

I think its an advert from the early-mid 00s…. for a bank, for a car, for a mortgage. Some product targeted at a two-graduate, two-income couple – probably starting to think about kids. The imagery will help them realise its time to borrow money, buy a family sized car, buy a house together…

Do I really remember that advert – or is it some Frankenstein monster constructed in my sub-conscious from ten or fifteen years of adverts/photos posted in facebook / vimeo aesthetic/TED/ instagram?

What does ukele music mean? Why does it have a pavlovian effect on me of making me want to kick out wildly or headbutt a wall.  What does ukele music signify in all those ads?

Cute, quirky, organic, caring, carefree, kawaii, innocent and ironic at the same time, home made, not electronic, nice, real, romantic, pretty, lovely… love?

Thinking about it, what ukulele music signifies is amateur.  The opposite of what it really is when employed to sell stuff in highly designed packets of affect (ie adverts) designed to penetrate and inhabit the bodies, lives and dreamings of a target demographic.

As someone with xy chromosones I’m used to my gaze reflexively locking onto images of female breasts, crotches, faces, buttocks arranged in my line of sight in order to sell things.

Then one day, shortly after I discovered I was going to be a parent, I was sitting on a bus and to my surprise found my gaze locking onto a version of this…


Today is an Autumn day – outside there’s damp leaves on the grass and the sky is a cloudless perfect blue – like the blue sky from a vimeo staff pick.

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