The World as Moose and Representation

Farmers counters GEICO with “moose realism.”

A new commercial from Farmers Insurance features “moose as such.”

I walked into the living room last week and caught the end of a new commercial. Brilliant, I thought. Based on the presence of an RV and … a moose, I thought the clever minds at GEICO had freed Jeff the Moose (whose Nietzschean predicament I previously analyzed) from his existential prison as mere representation. So I was stunned to realize that this was not a continuation of the GEICO campaign, but a new installment in Farmers Insurance’s “Hall of Claims” series. Here is the spot:

This raises a few questions. First, how lucrative is the insurance business such that they can engage in an expensive and wasteful ad war seen only in known scam industries, like “fantasy sports”? Second, why do they seem to be engaging in an esoteric battle over the representation of moose?

I will confine my remarks to the second question.

At first blush, it would seem that Farmers (who are probably some sort of neo- physiocrats) are striking back at GEICO’s voguish moose nihilism in favor of moose realism. (Not to be confused with moose “realness,” which I’m sure is the subject of an MLA paper that will soon be ridiculed by Tucker Carlson.)

But wait. On closer inspection, we realize that Farmers’ “real” moose has a more complicated ontological status. It appears in a flashback, triggered by a story, told by the guy from Whiplash. Setting aside the last, and likely most fertile, layer of interdimensionality, we can see that Farmers’, too, denies us (the viewer) moose immediacy, much as Jeff the Moose is denied access to his “special significance,” per Nietzsche.

What seems to be going on here is in fact a clever cooptation of GEICO’S advertising geist as we ourselves are at once presented with — yet separated from — a sublime and terrifying presentation of mooselichkeit, triggering Fichtean longing for homeowners insurance. I hope GEICO has some romantic poets in their marketing department. I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

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