This is a loud and blaring tough week on the tube what with the barrage of non-stop ThanksChristPassKwanzaa TV commercials importuning us to conspicuously consume (Guess who got a Word-a-Day calendar as an early present? Yep, no clue.).
There’s a pretty good chance one of us is already in the queue for an opportunity to purchase something we don’t need but desperately want (perhaps a full-size cardboard catamaran, or a genuine Gucci shoe tree) for a low, low price on Black (Thursday evening) Friday. It will have to be you, as I still do plenty of stupid stuff, but not that stupid stuff.
But humor me. What part of a day do you watch advertiser-supported broadcast TV? Perhaps the morning news, or the chit-chat afternoon talk shows, maybe the late night stuff? Count the number of commercials you see for prescription medications (not the headache tablets or cold and flu meds). I’m talking full-on, get ye to a doctor to have a script to take to your apothecary meds.
I predict your rough count, based on the number of them I see hamster hopping on the treadmill by the dawn’s early light and on the network evening news will be somewhere around 6.2 metric boxcars worth. To be honest, once you start watching for them, you’ll be slightly numbed by their volume.
Why are they on at all? I’m not a doctor and you’re probably not either, so why are we pre-selling stuff to people who lack the direct access to the product? Do any of us ever say to one of our doctors, ‘what do you think about we try HappiFuzziBuzz, that new anti-depression drug available in the family friendly twelve-pack?’ Yeah, and then afterwards you bill your physician for a consulting fee. Not.
Raised on sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, I have to tell you I never thought the long green would be in the middle, and yet in terms of ‘brought to you by’ advertising, we’re talking billions. I was a kid when the Marlboro Man rode off my TV screen and into the sunset (though I still remember the “Winston Tastes Good” jingle and ‘the disadvantages to Benson & Hedges’ (never mentioning the most obvious one, cancer) and the TV wizards screamed that their world would end as those rivers of advertising dollars dried up.
But here we are, a lifetime later, and we have more TV than you can shake a Zippo or a pillbox at so I’m thinking we can probably survive quite handsomely (in my case, real progress in the looks department) without erectile dysfunction and/or mood elevation prescription meds and return the airwaves to the likes of Ron Popeil and George Foreman. One to sell us fishing tackle and the knives to filet the catch with the other helping us cook up that freshly-caught carp just right.