During the 2020 NBA Bubble, one series of advertisements stood out to me not only because they played no less than one million times during the games, but they are extremely disturbing.
I’m talking of course about State Farm’s The Real Chris Paul Commercials, wherein a guy acts like James McAvoy’s character from Split harasses Chris Paul and his family.
If you haven’t seen the commercials, I’ll offer a quick recap:
In one of the commercials, while filming a workout video, the guy who is pretending to be Chris Paul, played by Alfonso Ribeiro, and who I am going to refer to as Alfonso for ease, breaks a mirror. Jake From State Farm (State Farm’s boring ass answer to Flo from Progressive) is also in the house for some reason and tells this maniac that there’s no replacing the real Chris Paul, just like there’s no replacing State Farm. Then the real Chris Paul enters. Alfonso jumps through a plate glass window.
However, diving headfirst through the thick glass of a sliding door did not kill Alfonso. In a second commercial, he returns in Michael Meyersesque fashion. This time, Alfonso tries to convince Chris Paul’s son that he is the boy’s father. He takes a basketball from the child, tosses it at the house, and knocks a flower pot onto a nice looking car. Not to worry though, Jake From State Farm is there again, casually standing by while this serial killer level threat speaks to a child. Of course Jake From State Farm doesn’t chase Alfonso away, he simply says that no one can replace State Farm and if only Brad Pitt’s character from Seven had State Farm, his wife’s head would be covered. He didn’t say that last part.
These commercials are disturbing. For one, there’s a creepy Pleasantville quality to them in the sense that Chris Paul’s home is set in a cookie-cutter development where nothing ever goes wrong… UNTIL. Unlike Pleasantville, the ads are cheerily colorful, which contrasts with the disconcerting nature of the content. Add to this some scary synth music when Alfonso shows up to talk to Chris Paul’s son, and you’re teetering on horror. The problem is that these commercials are supposed to be light and funny (I think) so that stuff didn’t really work for me.
If I didn’t already make it clear, the subtext is where these ads completely lose me.
Chris Paul has a stalker, and that’s putting it lightly. I have no doubt that at one point in his life Alfonso watched Inside The NBA and was convinced Charles Barkley was sending him subliminal messages. But in my opinion, Alfonso’s delusions are not the only reason Chris Paul needs to worry. Jake From Freakin’ State Farm is also a huge problem.
This guy’s response to what can only be described as an attempted kidnapping is to ramble incoherently about State Farm and how they can never be replaced. I can only guess that both Alfonso and Jake From State Farm are figments of Chris Paul’s imagination, and it’s actually he who is insane.
Not only are these commercials chilling, but on a fundamental level, they aren’t even that good at being commercials. I know that State Farm is an insurance company, but tell me what you’re offering me. How much does it cost? Are there any services I should know about? I guess if I’m ever the victim of a home invasion I can rely on State Farm to cover the damages?
Lastly, and if you’d allow me to step onto my soapbox for a second, these commercials speak to a deeper societal problem.
Alfonso is clearly disturbed. Something’s deeply wrong with him. He’s dressing up in another man’s clothes and pretending to be him. But instead of Alfonso getting the help he needs, the insurance company will simply cover any and all damages that Alfonso causes. What kind of society do we live in where a man like Alfonso is chalked up to a line item on an insurance claim? Why do we focus on the material damages of crime and not the underlying causes? Why did I get up on this soapbox? Isn’t there a more stable box around here that I can get up on?
I don’t like these commercials. They suck. I think I’ll stick to being uninsured thank you very much.
Final Score: 2/10
Simon Johnston is a writer based in Brooklyn. He’s written for Funny Or Die, Above Average, and Bowery Gothic. Follow him on Twitter and he will follow you back.