The selling of Chris Farley

Was it in bad taste for DirecTV to make a commercial featuring the late comedian?

Fans of comic Chris Farley, who died from a drug overdose in 1995, are angry at DirecTV for splicing old footage of Farley into a commercial for satellite television service. (Watch the DirecTV ad featuring Chris Farley.) In the ad, Farley's friend and comedy partner David Spade plugs DirecTV while Farley, digitally inserted into the same room, does his "fat guy in a little coat" routine from the movie Tommy Boy. Was the ad effective, or in bad taste?

This is an affront to Farley’s memory: What a despicable thing to do, says Josh Tyler in Cinema Blend. It's bad enough that DirecTV would turn a dead celebrity into "an unwilling corporate shill." But it is unspeakably "creepy and wrong" for David Spade to mock his poor, dead friend by turning his ghost into a "corporate monkey."

"Seriously, Spade, what the hell were you thinking?"

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The ad's really a touching homage: There is nothing "groundbreaking" about using a deceased actor in a television commercial, said Jason Chin at Chicagonow.com. "Remember when Fred Astaire danced with a vacuum cleaner?" And watching David Spade grin and say, "Never gets old," after Chris Farley does his gag, you get the feeling Spade's trying to remind people how funny Farley was. It feels like a heartfelt homage.

"Selling the dead"

Either way, it's a horrible commercial: Any ad that "digitally grave-robs dead celebrities" is a bad idea, says James Hibberd in THRFeed.com, and not just because it's disrespectful. Viewers spend the whole time thinking about how creepy the commercial is, and how sad it is that this person who did such memorable work is now gone. And "feeling creepy and sad" doesn't make you want to buy a product.

"Spade, Farley DirectTV ad -- poor taste?"

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