One anonymous blogger's headline pretty much sums up why some artists were born for public service advertising: "Darren Aronofsky Needs Just 30 Seconds to Turn You off Meth Forever." Anybody who's seen Requiem for a Dream understands Aronofsky seemingly effortless talent for scaring kids away from using drugs. You don't even need to watch the beautifully cinematic P.S.A.'s to picture the horrors of losing control — Black Swan did a fine job of that — but you should. (We've embedded all four at the bottom of this post.) "Aronofsky should make commercials more often," we thought as we opened a new tab to search Google. Oh look at that, he's made several others this year, for Yves St. Laurent and Revlon. Let't take a tour of his schizophrenic shortform subject matter.
We'll state the obvious: Aronofsky is not making cosmetics commercials purely in the name of art. Given that Chanel paid a reported $33 million for a 2004 spot starring Nicole Kidman for their No. 5 line, cosmetics commercials must be a gold-mine for directors trying to make a quick buck, and Aronofsky is probably getting paid plenty to sell perfume and mascara. Aronofsky didn't have to spare star power in his new advertising adventures, either. The two-minute long Yves St. Laurent commercial that came out in January starred Vincent Cassel, the mysterious actor who's always playing French villains in action movies, and features a score by Clint Mansell, a frequent Aronofsky collaborator and the guy who wrote the chilling theme to Requiem. Unsurprisingly, it's gorgeous and makes us want to buy Yves St. Laurent products.
Aronofsky's Revlon ad is not different. With Jessica Biel and Pharrell Williams leaning in and out of soft focus to the sound of some deep bass, it's kind of like watching a really classy R&B video. Adweek lauded the effort with an everybody-wins review of the campaign in June:
Of course, it's nothing that subversive. Aronofsky has clearly delivered just what Revlon wanted—something stylish, glamorous and completely safe, while haute enough for the director to justify his involvement in the first place. The lashes plump, and so does the wallet.
Now, it would seem that Aronofsky is ready to do contribute to the good of the people. The anti-drug ads are part of a broader effort to educate the public about the many awful and inevitable consequences of smoking crystal meth by an organization called the Meth Project. With state-specific campaigns in parts of the country where the epidemic is more dire, the Meth Project describes itself as "a large-scale prevention program aimed at reducing Meth use through public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach." Messaging accomplished. Now can Aronofsky please go back to directing terrific movies?