Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Word From Our Sponsor: "You're Stupid!"

One thing I’m sure we here in America have in common is the hatred of TV commercials.

Now I’ll stipulate that there are occasionally cool, interesting commercials that are worth the whole 30 seconds. Unfortunately these are usually clustered into Super Bowl Sunday, which is Network Television’s desperate plot to keep people from going to the bathroom. I think that whenever ad producers come up with a quality idea, they stockpile it for the Super Bowl. No sense wasting it on Biggest Loser. So that leaves the other 364 for commercials meant to creep into your subconscious and cling there until they become an answer on Jeopardy.

“I’ll take Lowest Common Denominator for $100, Alex.”
Let me try to briefly explain something I learned back in my Radio/TV/Film classes back in school. Networks don’t really care what they put on the air. Not in the specific sense. TV programs only exist to entice the public to watch the commercials. Networks may hype their “gripping dramas” and “hilarious comedies”, but the quality of the program is incidental. It’s merely a tool to get more people watching, therefore making them able to charge more for airing commercials. Networks do not endeavor to improve the public’s consciousness in any way; they endeavor to make money. Commercials = money. It’s as simple as that. Why do you think they fought tooth and nail over the VCR back in the ‘80s, and they fought to prevent Tivo in the late 90’s? They’re terrified that we’re finding ways to avoid their commercials. I’m surprised they let the remote control become part of the standard TV package.

So knowing this, there’s a lot of thought that goes into the commercials we see. And that’s why I hate them so much. I don’t like what they think of us. They think we’re morons.

To the Ad Agencies that make these things the American Public can be broken down into these nice little segments:

Men: Brain-dead dipshits trained to salivate uncontrollably at the prospect of more beef, hot chicks and “hemi” engines. And beer… lots and lots of beer. Men shown inside a house are incapable of accomplishing absolutely anything without close oversight by their all-knowing, ever-smiling, boundlessly patient wives.

Women: Shallow harpies who slobber shamelessly over the prospect of their brain-dead dipshit bringing them a shiny trinket from “Jared’s, The Galleria of Jewelry”. (And if I may, what the fuck is a “Galleria”, if not what some yutz though was a fancy way of saying “Gallery?”) If allowed, women will spend every dollar they can get their hands on buying jars of stuff to put on their faces, hair, hips, legs, feet, whatever, if only to coerce their faithful slob to get his ass over to Jared’s. This is in and around hovering over their slacker teens and adorable moppets, to make sure they’re eating reaching their RDA of glutens and preservatives.

Kids: Know-it-all teen slackers and precocious know-it-all tots… If, Heaven forbid Mom is not around to tell Dad what to do, you can count on the kids to bring wise beyond their years insight to the buffoon of the household. That’s only if they can park their skateboards for a second, put down the Mountain Dew, and get off the goddamned cell phone. (That dear old Dad pays for, of course.)

This is us, as seen by the companies from which you buy, well, everything.

I used to work in retail, so I admit that I already have a pretty low perception of John Q. Public. I’ve seen us up close and it’s not pretty. So I admit that there can be bits of truth in all these crass depictions. But I have to wonder, are the advertisers depicting us as we are, or are we acting like what we see on TV?

I hate when they just make shit up and act like it’s something special, like “Drinkability.” Have you ever seen some smug putz in an ugly hat lounging around waxing poetic about the “drinkability” of his beer? Not in any of the bars I’ve hung out at… It would be like, “You know what pal? If it’s beer, it’s drinkable. It ain’t special. Now let’s consider your ass. It’s got “bootability. Now get the hell out of my face before punt your ass into the bar across the street! And Judge Smails called, he wants his hat back”

I also believe that there is a special place in Hell for ad jingle writers. They have a talent for writing song snippets so banal, yet so self-sustaining that you just want to jam pencils in your ears.

If we want to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, forget sending more troops. Send loudspeakers, playing the “$5 Footlooooong” jingle. Gah! By the end of the first day, 10,000 terrorists will have blown themselves up. I just typed that and already I can’t get it out of my head. It makes me want to strap a bomb to my chest and run out to Subway right now. The same goes for that McDonalds fish sandwich song. As if that Billy Bass thing wasn’t irritating enough on it’s own…

The commercials that are driving me totally batshit right now are those new Comcast commercials. Those of you in areas not (poorly) serviced by Comcast have been fortunate enough to duck these but here’s an example below:

It’s like a graphic artist dropped some acid and got a robot to write the jingle. Then they get these sideways-looking, smirking automatons to ramble this nonsense for an entire minute. It’s like they thought those Free Credit commercials were just too peppy… “Lets keep the smirking slackers, but just make it more monotone!”

And they think that this will make us want to sign up for Comcast? If I had any alternative here, I’d cancel my Comcast account just to smite them for subjecting me to that idiotic commercial 3 times a night.

I want to leave you with a takeaway. The next time you’re watching TV, pay attention to the commercials a bit. Ask yourself, “What are they telling me here? Why are these people doing the things they’re doing? Why are they acting the way they’re acting? What does the advertiser think of the people in his commercial?”

“And given all that, what does he think of me?”


Anonymous said...

Watch PBS. At least they ask for money straight up and provide a decent program.
lil Mom

bluzdude said...

I would but they don't show nearly enough laughs, sex and violence.
If only the MacNeil/Lehrer Report featured TOM Lehrer...

Mary Ann said...


Anonymous said...

I freaking love this! You are so dead on!

bluzdude said...

Thanks, Blogette
Chalk it up to another thing I took out of my media classes in college... The ability to break down commercials.

You have to remember that every single thing in a commercial is put there for a reason, and it all reflects what the advertiser (or ad agency) thinks of us and what will work on us.