Gotta Love Those Bolls

Sept. 12 1997 3:30 AM

Gotta Love Those Bolls

79000_79466_mov_icon
79000_79467_audio_icon

Sound02 - vrcotton.avi or Sound03 - vrcotton.mov; download time, 3.50 minutes at 56K Sound01 - VR-cotton.asf; for sound only

The Cotton Club, produced by Rhea & Kaiser Marketing Communications for Rhone-Poulenc.

41000_41969_cotton2

Guess what takes center stage in The Cotton Club. A ... er ... plant. A cotton plant, to be precise, and a sassy one at that. No moldy bolls sprouting wispy white nothings here: This plant is lissome. It is lush. And it will go to great lengths to convince its target market--the rural South--to buy "Finish." A "defoliant, re-growth inhibitor, and boll opener," Finish is produced by Rhone-Poulenc. It speeds up the harvest by accelerating the growth cycle of the cotton plant, causing it to age, lose its leaves, and open bolls ahead of schedule. The Cotton Club dramatizes that compressed cycle via the sashaying, shimmying plant, which sheds its inhibitions--and its leaves--in its commitment to commerce, and bares all.

41000_41970_cotton1

Not that The Cotton Club is in poor taste, you understand. It is true that it is set to David Rose's famous "Stripper," which urges one to "take it off, take it all off"--but the spot's producers, Chicago firm Rhea & Kaiser, were sharply aware of the Cotton Belt-Bible Belt overlap. "This plant is a dancer, not a stripper," one of its makers insists.

41000_41971_cotton45

The setting, however, strikes a coyly sultry note. Red curtains and exaggerated underlighting transform an old German opera house in Brooklyn, N.Y., into "The Cotton Club," where "a new act" is being staged. "First," says the voice-over, as the camera curves around a gyrating graphic, "it takes off those leaves. Then, it keeps them from coming back." We aren't sure what "it" is, but clearly, this product aids aging. Leaves wither and fall as the plant continues to dance--the combination of potent chemicals and strip clubs isn't likely to endear itself to the PC police; and there are those who would be hard pressed to distinguish between Finish and Agent Orange. But all's well, etc., because the stuff in the white bottle opens those bolls--"Man, does it open up those bolls."

To put it another way, the plant takes it all off, then sprouts bolls. Hmm.

41000_41972_cotton7

A bottle of Finish waits in the wings as chyron and narrator describe its "virtues." Not only does it defoliate, inhibit re-growth, and open bolls, but it is also "faster and more consistent than any other harvest aid." As the curtain closes and applause spills across the footlights, the message is reiterated: "Cotton has never moved like this"--as swiftly to harvest, or across a stage.

--Robert Shrum

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?