The Commercial Breaks are Broken

This might make me unusual–that’s hard to imagine, I know–but I enjoy television commercials.  Sometimes I enjoy them more than whatever show I’m watching.  Most of the time they disappoint me though.  I can’t guarantee that I would be able to make good commercials myself, but I could likely do better than these:

“Sin.  It’s delicious!”

I saw one commercial that featured a beautiful naked woman lying in the woods.  A snake was slithering over her body, and the camera would switch between views of the snake and views of the woman’s sultry expression.  Meanwhile, the narrator discussed how many scholars conjecture that the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden was a pomegranate.  Therefore, he intoned playfully, people ought to drink pomegranate juice.

I watched this, turned to my wife and asked, “Did they just try to make the Biblical account of the fall of humanity… sexy?”  To which she responded, “Yes, I think they might have missed the point of the narrative.”

“No thanks; I’d rather be sick.”

I think that there might be some sort of law requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose the potential risks of the medications they advertise.  I’m not sure why, because I think people ought to be getting their medications from doctors, who can probably disclose risks in a better environment.  Instead, because commercials are so short and risks are so numerous, pharmaceutical commercials frequently become confusing pastorales of healthy looking people describing medical horrors.

Frankly, I don’t care how beautiful the setting might be, when a smiling man tells me that there’s a risk of developing something like pancreatic lesions or anal seepage, I’d at least like to know what the benefits are supposed to be.  The only thing these commercials seem to advertise is the frailty of the human body.  They might as well carry the rider: “Brought to you by fear.”

Of course, the other extreme is for companies to advertise medicine without saying anything either positive or negative.  These commercials tend to show happy families doing sundry routine activities, but having a lot more fun than any family in the history of the world.  Music will play; the announcer will say chipper sounding gibberish–”Relax.  Somedays also sunshine.  Even in the park!”–never actually forming a sentence; then the commercial will end abruptly by telling me to ask my doctor about a new medicine.  I did this once, but my doctor told me that I wasn’t a postmenopausal woman with gout. She prescribed less television.

“Happiness, an exposé.”  

The shopping mall nearest me has about six stores that seem to exclusively sell women’s undergarments.  I’m not sure what this says about the local demographic, but the mall posters seem to say something dramatic about the undergarments.  None of the women in the pictures wear anything else, and they all seem to be happier for the choice, even in wintery settings.  Clearly something about the undergarments sold in these stores produces both joy and forgetfulness: joy perhaps about the available colors and fabrics, forgetfulness about the rest of one’s wardrobe, modesty, or circumstances.

Meanwhile, about thirty feet away in the store that sells undergarments for men, all of the men look stricken and moody.  They’re clearly wearing the wrong brand.  I’ve warned my wife that someday, if I’ve feeling particularly down about something, I might buy a push-up bra for myself and run through town without my shirt on.


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