Sam Houston, Comcast Pitchman

Comcast’s current Sam Houston campaign has made for some of the stranger local TV ads in recent memory. In them, a, um, statuesque General Houston reminisces on his life and career and touts Houston’s


only cable provider. [Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your opinion, the spots do not appear to be available online.]

Some in the local blogosphere are not amused. At Dos Centavos, Stace Medellín had this to say:

Other than Big John [Cornyn]'s ad where he takes credit for the Red Cross, the newest dumbest ad has to be Comcasts' Sam Houston ad where he appears to be talking to a Latino family--a little Latina girl even calls her [sic] "grandpa". Ummm...yeah, right! The only "Latino" thing that Sam Houston liked was Santa Anna's wooden leg, which he held hostage till the General signed over Mexico. (Texans have believed in mental torture for a lo-o-o-n-g time, huh?)

Meanwhile, recent returnee to Blogopia Slampo weighed in. Two weeks after the passage of Ike, the still cable-less blogger weighed in with this:

[W]hat has us riled is not so much that we’re missing Project Runway and can’t stay up-to-the-minute on the imminent collapse of the U.S. financial system, but that Comcast has done such a dreadful job of explaining itself to its customers (namely us, for starters). On top of that, since the hurricane passed the company has been airing an appallingly insulting commercial angling for new customers---while it can’t even service many of its existing ones!---that desecrates the memory of Sam Houston, our town’s namesake and the greatest Texan of all (greater than Willie Nelson, Darrell Royal and your grandma combined).

Even as he was lighting the powder for this fusillade, Slampo’s cable was restored, if not any fond feelings he may have ever had for the provider or their newest ad campaign. And oddly, Slampo the Anglo Southerner was, like Medellín, offended on a tribal level.

“Comcast is still a wretched outfit ... and that Sam Houston commercial, especially that phony Hollywood-cracker accent they put in his mouth, is unforgivable.”

Wow – only Comcast can make a Sam Houston that offends both sides of the Texas-Mexico conflict…

And yet the campaign does have its admirers. One such is Patrick Nolan, director of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, where in the words of one Texas newsman, David Adickes’s giant statue of Houston looms our of the Piney Woods like “a giant albino Sasquatch.”

“I think they’re clever. What the heck, I think they’re funny,” he tells Hair Balls. (He does doubt the historical accuracy of mannequin Sam’s assertion in one of the ads that he literally caught a musket ball, like, in his hands, at the Battle of San Jacinto.) “He did catch one in his ankle, not in his bare hands.”

Nolan disagrees totally with Slampo’s slagging of Sam’s accent. “As I remember from the advertisement, it sounded pretty good,” he says. “He was born in Virginia, raised in Tennessee, so he would have had what today we would call a Tennessee/Southern accent. I didn’t have any complaint about the voice.”

As a fellow Texas-seean, I don’t really either. And while the ads are corny, their bizarre portrayal of Houston is not defamatory on its own.

But on the other hand, Comcast’s gall in merely trying to associate themselves with Sam Houston, during and after their absolutely Santa Anna-like Ike fiasco, is a rank offense to Houston’s good name.

John Nova Lomax

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