The podcaster and pundit Matt Christman tweeted something prophetic on January 20th, 2017, the day Donald Trump was inaugurated as the president of the United States of America: “This is the stupidest day in American history, a record that will be broken by every subsequent day in American history.” Two years later, I can exclusively confirm that he was correct. Each day brings new horrors, a fresh level of hell to navigate. For example, today I learned that the eels in the River Thames — there are eels in the Thames? — have gone insane on cocaine from Lehman Brothers bankers, who were apparently holding a 10-year anniversary party, for some reason? This is all real. It has made me wonder who’s running the show.
As stupid as that is, I’ve come across something even dumber: this video from the finance application Expensify, which stars Adam Scott as a “record label executive” and 2 Chainz (né Tity Boi) as an even more iced-out version of himself, in order to get you to save your receipts, or something. There are the standard rap video tropes — the vixens, the bling, the homies — but good god is it weird. There’s a dude with a poorly CGI’d third eye just, like, standing there for some reason. There’s a giveaway attached, naturally, and the thing you have to do to get the prizes or money or whatever is pause the video, and snap a picture of the receipts shown in the video and upload them in the Expensify app to have a chance at winning. I cannot make heads or tails of it; I use different T&E software.
What benevolent god would allow this to exist? I can only imagine we’ve been cursed by something old and rapacious, because the alternative — that an uncaring universe simply allows everything and anything to happen — is almost too much to bear. Maybe Abed was right; maybe this is the darkest timeline. Nobody chooses to be born, I know. I get it. But people choose to make things. And all I know is that a decade-old company with 130 employees that’s never run advertising before chose to create an abomination before god and man that’s an ad that’s also a receipt and a new 2 Chainz song. We live in hell. I hope Tity Boi got his coins.
By way of justification, CEO and founder David Barrett — of course his name is David — told FastCompany that “[w]e are the strongest brand [in expense management], the largest customer base, and the fastest growing — and yet virtually nobody in the world knows who we are, despite us having something to offer virtually everyone,” which presumably means something. “We want to convey that Expensify is for everyone: you, your mom, your grandma, your kid, your coworkers, your boss–anyone who spends money can and should use it,” Barrett said. In a world that’s absolutely, maddeningly wracked with inequality — financial and otherwise — offering a giveaway like this, for promotional purposes, is obscene. They should have just done a Drake and given away the money they would have otherwise spent. Then they could have bragged about being better than everyone else. It would have also been wild: an expensing app that gives you money? Genius. That one’s free. Pay me.
Anyway. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter at all. Ads are made to get us to buy things or use things or otherwise intrude on our lives so that other people, who are not us, can get rich. That’s fine and normal, because we’ve all tacitly accepted that as part of the bargain of being alive, which again, we did not choose. “That’s how it is on this bitch of an earth,” said Samuel Beckett, correctly, approximately one thousand years ago in internet time. But Jesus, guys, you’re running it at the Super Bowl?