2001: An Advertising Odyssey

One of the more predictable features of 2001 was the appearance in every second newspaper or late-night TV ad of the tagline '2001: A [Insert Blindingly Inappropriate and Un-Space-Like Item's Name Here] Odyssey'. Stanley Kubrick would be turning in his grave, while Arthur C. Clarke (not dead) is no doubt writhing in Sri Lanka.

At first I was annoyed, like every other thinking person in the English-speaking world, and looking forward to 2002, our first year in, well, years, without some naff pop-culture association attached to its name: 'partying like it's 1999'; the whole Y2K/millennium thing; 2001, A Confusing Finale Odyssey... oh for a year without any particular connotations, one that we can make our own. And you thought 1984 was bad.

But I'm no longer cringing at these travesties; I'm starting to enjoy them. We have the makings of an advertising artform here. Yes, I've seen the light. For I have seen the pinnacle of inappropriate 2001-A-[Blank]-Odyssey advertising lines:

2001: A Carpet Odyssey.

The very idea is breathtaking. A whole script rolls out mentally before me, like... carpet. Never mind that 'carpet' and 'space' are two of the things least likely to go together. (Can you imagine trying to keep carpet clean on Mars? Your vacuum cleaner would be full of red dust in no time. And imagine trying to use a vacuum cleaner in space. It wouldn't work—it's already a vacuum. Actually, that would mean any carpet attached to the outside of your Jupiter probe would be self-cleaning. Hmm, that's not such a bad idea. Hello, NASA? Have I got a space shuttle tile for you!)

Picture the opening scene of '2001: A Carpet Odyssey'. The Dawn of Time. Australopithecus throws a carpet tile into the air. The other Australopithecuses squabble over who gets the last tile on the 50-percent-off table.

Cut to the Moon, 1999. A giant roll of carpet is found standing upright on its surface. The world wonders if this is a message from an ancient civilisation. Possibly Middle Eastern.

2001. A deep space probe in the shape of a giant magic carpet flies to Jupiter. The onboard computer, Haladdin, gets dust mites in his circuitry and goes insane, but not before he grants Dave the astronaut his third wish: to plunge deep into an enormous carpet orbiting Jupiter, where he can revert to childhood and crawl around in shag pile forever.

This masterpiece of modern cinema would, of course, be made by the Turkish director of such other 1960s/70s science fiction classics as Planet of the Drapes, Logan's Rug, and that kitsch soft-porn cookery classic, Kebabarella.

You know it makes sense. Yes. Yes! Yes! My friend!


Written for The Age Funny Short Story Competition, 13 February 2001.
This page: 23 April 2001.

©2001 Rory Ewins