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Who Listened When His Fish Talked?

Thomas Edwards' "School of Fish Pain." (Courtesy of the artist) See them in action here.

It takes a trained eye to detect the artistic antecedents of a fast-food commercial. But the influences popped out at art blogger Lenny Campello as he watched McDonald's latest Filet-O-Fish promotion:

Hmmm, a rip-off of D.C. artist Thomas Edwards's "School of Fish Pain," one of the finest artworks crafted in the medium of Big Mouth Billy Bass?

The new ad, now boring a hole in your brain, features wall-mounted fish singing to a sandwich-chomping man: "Give me back that Filet-O-Fish!... If it were you in that sandwich, you wouldn't be laughing at all!"

Edwards's work, a hit at the local 2004 Artomatic show, portrayed a school of flapping, mechanical fish, each turning to the viewer to gasp, "They're eating my eggs!" or "I can't breathe air!" or "Please let me die." Coincidence? "Mickey D's needs to get in touch with him soon," Campello wrote on his DCArtNews blog.

"There are definitely similar themes," Edwards agreed. But he added: "I am not the first person to hack a Big Mouth Billy Bass." Though "I'm probably the first person to hack seven at a time in one coherent artwork."

BMBB was the gag gift of 2000 -- an animatronic fish that sang "Don't Worry, Be Happy." It struck Edwards as perverse. "This is a poor little fish that has been taken out of the water and stuck on the wall. Is it really going to be singing happy songs?" After beers in Hyattsville one night, he got pals to record more plausible fish sayings. His Artomatic exhibit landed him a gallery show and helped launch him into a career of technological art, which he's now pursuing in Los Angeles.

He's got no gripe with the ad, which McDonald's says was not influenced by his work. Spokeswoman Danya Proud described it as "an out-of-the-box, light, fun commercial that could really capture the characteristics of the sandwich."

Uh, that it sings to you? "That it's a great sandwich."

By The Reliable Source  |  March 25, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
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What I also find really interesting is how similar the "fish voices" are when one compares the McDonald's commercial and Edwards' artwork.

Not just in sound, but in the complaining context and nuances.

Either the greatest coincidence in the world of advertising or ....

Posted by: lennycampello | March 25, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

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