Few elements of modern television production strive harder to emulate the fast-moving, nausea-inducing, Tetsuo-from-the-end-of-Akira-level pace of viral internet content more closely than the annual Super Bowl ad, the proverbial Big Game of “Hey, look at me for 20 seconds!” attention-seeking behavior. We are, of course, already well into the era of human history in which various corporation’s million-dollar TikTok videos get their own internet trailers, stoking anticipation to see David Harbour tell you all about laundry detergent yet again. And yet, that knowledge still didn’t prepare us for the raw reality of this particular Doritos ad—for what we can only assume will be an even longer and more flavor-blasted Doritos ad yet to come—and, well, there’s no real way to sugarcoat this, folks: It’s Sam Elliott, noted cowboy man, reciting the lyrics of cowboy-adjacent viral megahit“Old Town Road.”
(By the way, we know the video looks like it didn’t load properly, but it’s still there if you hit play.)
Giving a performance that is somehow considerably less embarrassing than the one his old co-star Jeff Bridges busted out for Stella Artois last year, Elliott informs all involved that, indeed, he does have the horses in the back, and that no one can tell him nothing about the musical deployment of double negatives for lyrical effect. Then, lured away by a pounding bass note, he leaves his hard-earned whiskey behind, presumably so that he can go cram two big handfuls of old-timey Doritos in his mouth, smearing radioactive orange flavor dust all across the surface of that glorious ’stache.
And while we could make a mean-spirited crack here about the spectacle of one relic of a bygone era reciting the lyrics of another, the most irritating thing about this surreal nightmare, of course, is that it works; Elliott may not be the most varied performer in the universe, but when it comes to solemnly intoning vaguely Western nonsense words in a dusty and rascal-filled saloon, he’s a hard man to beat. It’s difficult to express how genuinely annoying it is to have an actual emotional response to a Doritos ad in which a man playing something approaching a parody of himself recites the lyrics to the hottest song of 9 months ago, but hey, that’s apparently where we are right now. (Hell. Where we are right now is Hell.)