Essay: The LA Grinch Billboards Are Savage And Spot-On

A billboard promoting the upcoming movie The Grinch, spotted on Sawtelle Blvd. in West L.A. on October 27, 2018. (Elina Shatkin/LAist)

Maybe you've seen those billboards promoting the new Grinch movie. Yes, there's another adaptation of the Dr. Seuss story. At least this one features Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the grumpy green guy, because no one does nasty and supercilious like the Brits.

Spotted around Los Angeles, the billboards say things like this:

And this:

And this:

Billboards promoting the upcoming Grinch movie, spotted at Universal Studios, circa October 2018. (Used with permission of the photographer)

And this:

A billboard promoting the upcoming movie The Grinch, spotted in Los Angeles in October 2018. (Sara Sidner via Reddit)

The Grinch is also lobbing localized insults at other cities, like New York and Chicago.

As much as we resent viral marketing schemes, we have to tip our hats when they're this good.

I mean, are they even a joke? Or are they just extra L.A.?

The reason these billboards have struck a nerve is because they reflect reality. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche, "A joke is an epigram on the death of a feeling."

Rents in Los Angeles are sky-high and they've risen astronomically in the past few years. That's because loads of people want to live here and we've spent decades not building enough housing to keep up with demand. Newbies arrive in L.A. and move into whatever neighborhoods they can afford. Those 'hoods become more desirable so rents go up, forcing people who have lived there for ages to move to cheaper, less "desirable" areas. Eventually, more newbies will movie into those areas, too, and the cycle of life, i.e. gentrification, will continue. The result is a housing crisis that's been decades in the making. Supply, meet demand.

So here's me channelling my inner Grinch:

To all those Brooklynites excited to come to the West Coast so they can shop at high-quality farmers markets year-round and gaze at potted succulents on their patios and sip gibraltars in white, subway-tiled Echo Park cafes that look they were plucked straight from Williamsburg, go back to New York or wherever else you came from.

You're not going to make it as an actor. I considered putting the word "probably" in the previous sentence but why bother?

Meet the 10,000 other dreamers who were the funniest, prettiest, whateverest people in their town. They also just moved to L.A. You'll be competing against all of them for the chance to one day stand around in a 30-second commercial pretending that some new brand of nacho cheese or a splashier crossover SUV is a breakthrough on par with curing leukemia. Hope your food serving and driving skills are good because that's what you're actually going to be doing.

Sure, we all need to live in a state of semi-delusion where we believe we have a meaningful degree of control over our destinies. How else could we make it through each day? But don't let La La Land's happy ending or all those rosy, Facetuned Instagram feeds lull you into believing the world is in any way a just place where talent and hard work are automatically rewarded with success and good fortune.

We get it. People come to a big city to make their dreams come true. They come here to subsume themselves in the energy and culture, to remake their identities. They come to escape the stultifying small towns and soul-destroying suburban hellholes they grew up in.

Let us suggest ____________. [Basically any city outside of the L.A. metropolitan area.] We hear dreams can be made there, too.

P.S. I am available for inspirational graduation speeches.

A billboard promoting the upcoming movie The Grinch, spotted in L.A. in October 2018. (Brianna Lee/LAist)

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