When the giant Coca-Cola sign towering over San Francisco was torn down last year, the majority of tributes to its 83-year presence in the city occurred (where else?) on social media. But the most fitting homage to the red-and-white twinkling billboard occurred long before its dismantling. It was a 14-minute short film titled Enjoy, and it’s now available to watch online for free.
Made in the late ’90s, well before smartphones began vacuuming our attention away from the urban landscape, Enjoy evokes a bygone era when it was easy to become infatuated with mostly pointless objects and utilize them as talismans of meaning. In satirical “commercials,” filmmakers Gordon Winiemko and Julie Wyman treat the Coca-Cola sign as a mathematical equation, or as a pop-art object worthy of Warhol, but mostly as a deity: at one point, the two climb a fire escape to commune with the rooftop sign, like seekers of knowledge visiting a mountaintop guru. In another (NSFW) segment, Wyman has finally become one with the sign, and walks blissfully along a crowded Market Street sidewalk, her body painted in the sign’s colors. Nirvana, indeed.
Enjoy is dated, not only for its 1990s filmmaking style but in its interaction with the decade’s obsession with selling out. Yet Winiemko and Wyman’s worship of the sign remains oddly infectious. At one point, a friend registers a straight-outta-Douglas-Coupland complaint of the sign: “It’s advertising! It’s a multinational corporation trying to infiltrate our unconscious solely for their private profit!”
It’s hard to disagree with Winiemko’s reply. “I don’t know, Tom,” he says. “I just think it’s beautiful.”
Watch Enjoy below: