The Joys of Subliminal Ignorance


Ok, and uh…….WHAT? Not to mention OY, and wow…just WOW! Maybe even an OMG for good measure. In fact, how about a DAYUM!

From even the good folks that bring us the Thanksgiving Day Parade, our first glimpse every year of Santa, Miracle on 34th Street, and teach us all to BELIEVE…comes THIS? Did nobody even think that they should run this ad by anyone to make sure of the acuracy of the “model” they hired to “hold” the trombone? This also begs the question: why not just hire some hungry good looking TROMBONIST to pose for the ad? Could have probably saved some bread, sadly.

I must admit that this is one of my soapiest of soapbox issues. Why is it that otherwise well-educated people seem to suddenly become completely clueless when it comes to the arts? Specifically, instrumental music. As a trombonist, I can’t tell you how often I have seen the following or one of the following has actually happened to me:

1. A “model” is used for an image, movie, or commercial to play a trombone with the same disastrous results as you see above. (Why does nobody seem to consider checking for accuracy. Or worse…do they think it isn’t even worth bothering about?)

2. Non-musicians are used in movies to play the parts of musicians (in a cheap, non speaking role even!) and/or the editing or actual slide movement has NOTHING to do with the music we are hearing. (try that kind of editing with the voice-track and see how many people notice)

3. A doctor has said to me, you play the trumpet right? (after I told them it was the trombone) and then are likely to follow that with “Have fun playing that tuba!”

4. TSA folk, flight attendants, security…EVERYONE at an airport upon seeing my trombone in it’s case will say something like: “A trumpet, right?” (followed by…”You gonna entertain us later?” Haw, haw, haw…

5. Gazing at a masterwork by some wonderful genius even…and seeing a trombone in an otherwise meticulously-researched painting (perfect human anatomy, visual perspective, light and shadows, etc) being held in a manner similar to the “Macy’s Magic” above with the lead-pipe seemingly being ingested by the musician.

And on it goes. What is this phenomenon? I shall call it (in full rant-mode) subliminal ignorance. This is what happens when we have a lack of art education in our schools! It is evidence of some kind of systemic societal madness. Behold, on the brow of this ad executive is written: DOOM! (ok, that is a bit over-the-top….but WHAT then?)

My optimistic and super-wise colleague at UNT Tony Baker said today as I tried out this rant on him: “Well, at least someone had the idea to try something different and feature a trombone rather than the typical Gabriel Herald Trumpet” To which my full-flight pet-peeve-enhanced self thought, “Or maybe they actually BELIEVED this was a trumpet?”

I usually strive for positivity at all costs. Why not? If we have a choice, why not choose to be happy and positive? I will make it so. But some things just make me crazy! (a phrase I have used since childhood BTW)

However, in the interest of my happy soul, I will also list the following:

1. My dentist has an office outfitted with Miles Davis posters and a sound system that plays jazz. Try some of THAT with nitrous oxide….just sayin 🙂

2. Once at an airport, an airline pilot came up to me after noticing my trombone over my shoulder in a gig bag and said that he used to play trombone and upgraded me to first class on the spot!

3. My medical doctor used to play trumpet in a lab band at UNT!

4. Dali seems to have gotten it right:


(full disclosure, this is of course a trombone-centric satire of Salvador Dali’s masterpiece:
The Persistence of Memory.
I am being funny, you dig?)

So is there hope for our magical world? In the final analysis, at the end of the day…when all is said-and-done, I would say YES.

But if I see one more picture like the one at the top of this post…..


About swiest2

Steve Wiest is a Trombonist-Composer-Cartoonist-Author and Coordinator of The 21st Century Music Initiative at The Lamont School of Music: The University of Denver
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2 Responses to The Joys of Subliminal Ignorance

  1. Hambone says:

    Maybe the “magic” of Macy’s is that he can get a sound holding the horn that way? Hambone

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