A new Google app seeks to change the way you keep up with your personal data. A recent Google commercial is promoting the app with an homage to a 1998 episode of Seinfeld.
Seinfeld’s George Costanza, with a wallet thick enough to induce spasms of lower-back pain.
In the new commercial, we see Jerry Seinfeld’s friend, George Costanza, approaching a street-corner utility pole on which an ad is posted. George takes a phone message and number from the notice, it reads, “Make your phone your wallet.” George struggles to place the take-along tag from this ad inside his monstrously overstuffed wallet. He stresses and strains until the wallet finally just explodes in the street, with shrapnel-like pieces of paper flying off in a thousand directions. The ad ends by stating, “Goodbye, wallet. The phone will take it from here.”
A New Way to Do Business?
Google Wallet intends to replicate your traditional wallet, electronically. All of a person’s credit card info would be displayed within the Google Wallet app. In addition, it might carry coupons too.
It would work like this: Say you walk into a store and find something you want to buy, like soup. At the check-out counter you pass by a scanner-like device that utilizes what Google calls “near field communication.” You would take your phone and lightly bump it against the NFC scanner. Your transaction would be instantly processed and your purchase is complete.
NFC-enabled credit card terminals are still rare by retail standards — they are available at hundreds of thousands of locations, but regular credit cards are usable at tens of millions of locations worldwide. It works with MasterCard account holders (who may have a Citi or PayPass card) Visa too has just got onboard, but if you happen to be one of the millions who use Visa, you’ll have to buy a Google Prepaid Card to take advantage of the app.
The technology requires some retailers to update their current barcode-scanning equipment. The Wallet app also requires that your phone remain switched on. If your phone should lose power, no soup for you!
While Google’s Wallet app can enable cash-free shopping, retailers must also adopt the payment terminals and process. And Google Wallet won’t immediately replace your leather one since people still use wallets and purses to carry other important cards (like car and health insurance) and cash, and that’s not really likely to change any time soon.
Comedy, Thy Name is Costanza
TV has given us some great conniving characters over the years. But none was ever more scheming or bizarre than George Costanza. He enriched nine seasons of Seinfeld with a treasure trove of personality quirks and enough anxieties to keep a team of psychiatrists busy.
Where Jerry was controlled and deadpan, George was anything but either of those things. He got mad (often), he shrieked and raged, and he screwed up his face in anger until a large vein would become visible in his forehead. He was really, really good at getting mad. One of the many kinks in George’s personality was illustrated in Season 9, Episode 12, “The Reverse Peephole” (which originally aired on January 15, 1998).
In the episode, George developed back pain because he is carrying around an overstuffed wallet— a regular men’s cowhide wallet that has been filled way beyond capacity. It’s crammed with so much junk that the wallet can’t even be folded.
Despite the pain the wallet inflicts upon him every time he sits down, George remains steadfastly loyal to his wallet. Jerry compares the wallet and George’s burger. “You know, you’ve got more cow here than here.” George defends his use of the wallet, calling it an organizer and a friend. Seinfeld flatly replies, “Well, your ‘friend’ is morbidly obese.” What was so important in George’s wallet? Mostly old coupons, some Irish money and some hard candy.
In spite of being off the air for 13 years now, Seinfeld has remained relatively fresh and still exerts an influence on the popular culture. Many of the show’s sayings have entered the American language and are now recognized parts of speech. Reruns of the series still air in syndication throughout the world.
If you’re interested in learning story development and filmmaking, Seinfeld is a great to way to see master storytellers in action. Often called a show “about nothing,” it was almost exactly opposite of that. Seinfeld is about everything, and how the stray details of our lives can become the topics of conversation, and how those details overlap with the details of other people’s lives.
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