Posted by: JDM..... | October 14, 2013

TV brainsuck.….

there’s a pill for that…..

I’m not so stupid as to believe everything that oozes out of my television, but I have to wonder what the future must hold in store for those of fewer sunsets who were perhaps raised with a remote in one hand and a cell phone in the other instead of a chocolate bar and a toy truck. The little time I spend watching the damned thing tends to be taken up by the evening news and a couple of things on the History Channel, Discovery, or the Public Broadcasting Network, so I have no idea what transpires during the daytime or after 9 o’clock or so at night.

What I have noticed, however, is the nature of the advertising. The nice lady in the apron holding up a box of laundry soap and saying “This is laundry soap; buy it,” disappeared before gasoline hit 25 cents a gallon, and as recently as 2009 (latest figures found) every hour of programming contained 10:35 minutes of commercial advertising and another 13:54 minutes of network commercial blather. No wonder the US has an obesity problem. Americans spend 41% of their leisure time waddling to the refrigerator and back. I’m on a great diet, though: I eat whatever the hell I want, but I only watch an hour or so of TV in a day. Besides, at my age each trip to the refrigerator usually translates into a trip to the bathroom, so it’s best to economize.

But, back to the issues that concern me about the 34 hours of brainsuck the average person subjects himself to each week. I’m not on a mission or anything here. My sole purpose is to dish out ridicule, and I seem to have a limitless supply of seed stock to work with. Today I just want to focus on the commercial and infomercial side of the equation. The actual programming content, to use the term with great license, is another matter and cannot be approached without benzodiazapines, the likes of which I eschewed decades ago, or a Black Belt in Yoga. Perhaps I’ll have to sign up for a class. If I attempt such commentary without proper preparation, I’m liable to put a box of .357 reloads through the Toshiba. I did that once, but it was a GE and I did it at a local gravel pit, not in my living room. That sort of behavior is no longer environmentally permissible, however.

So, as those of us who played with stamped steel toys, raced barefoot and bareheaded on fenderless rusty bicycles down tarred streets bubbling in the summer sun, and played Cowboys and Army with BB guns or .22 birdshot enter our senior years, the electronic snake-oil salesmen are singing our song; if it can be described pharmaceutically, it has a permanent place in the Top Forty. I enjoy a certain amount of immunity however, because, first of all, I don’t spend much ass-time watching the crap that’s on, and secondly, because I’m already on a boatload of pills that taste bad, look funny, and have names I can’t pronounce, none of which apparently merit epic productions recorded in exotic places. Cheap generics to keep me from keeling over in the grocery line while trying to buy Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup on the sly on the way home from Cardiac Rehab. Nothing sexy or exciting about that.

I have to question the mean intelligence of my generation, because obviously enough of them buy into the horse manure being pitched over the airwaves to justify the incredible amount of money that the prime time ad campaigns must cost. I don’t waste any adrenalin on the younger generations who are targeted by the OTHER ads, those that feature hormone dripping post-adolescents piloting skateboards upside down or their counterparts of the redundant chromosome variety who model bathing suits they can carry to the beach in an ear ring and wear skirts the size of a fan belt for a go-kart. These lost souls grew up playing with OSHA certified toys they couldn’t cut themselves on, choke on, absorb some toxin from, or hit younger siblings over the head with; they were brought home from the hospital in padded Brink’s trucks, and have worn helmets and knee pads to do anything more vigorous than taking a crap. These future people of note and influence have been groomed to sprinkle prescription substances on their genetically modified, organic breakfast cardboard, and took Assertiveness Training in Pre-Pre-Kindergarten while Mom got her nails done and the Dad With No Name did time. Theirs has been a lifetime of subliminal messages. By the time they can drive, they are fully programmed to suffer every disease or malady known to pharmaceutical science and to treat each and every self-diagnosis religiously with the recommended products.

When I do my quarterlies at my doctor’s to have my database tuned up, I get fifteen minutes to answer questions about what medications I’m on (he prescribed the damned things in the first place and should know. I should start charging him for the information), hear about his kid’s latest football game, and if there’s any time left I can try to tell him stuff on the way out the door like I coughed up my left kidney a week ago last Tuesday.

Medicine is in for some major changes in a few years. These kids are going to make appointments for their physicians to come see THEM on a regular basis, during which time they will educate him/her about the latest pharmacology and place orders for prescriptions they need to treat self-diagnosed maladies real and imagined, mostly the latter.

Anyway, selecting any program after the six o’clock news constitutes de facto subscription to an evening of medical indoctrination interrupted by brief spurts of programming. There is no “opt out”. The typical “message” opens with a brief drama, comedy skit, or heads up to some impending doom, any of which might be set on a tropical island, dangling from the battlement of a castle, or just about anyplace else real or imagined, followed by a brief mention of some biological misfortune, which is in turn followed by a “Let There Be Light” moment during which the selected Miracle Cure is introduced. The remainder of the piece consists of a rapid-fire recitation of every possible “side effect” one might receive like some kind of Cracker Jack prize when they ingest the stuff, up to and including the statistical probability of being run over by a boat while shingling the garage roof.

Frankly, I’d rather put up with my lower back pain than have my lips fall off.

Me, I take generics when I can, and I argue with my doctor instead of trying to lecture him about the pharmacology I learned between cartoons or America’s Funniest Disembowelment re-runs. I never did understand that crazy come-on: “Tell your doctor about…. ” These drug companies are out of their minds, or more likely my peers are for supporting such scams. I pay my doctor to tell ME what’s wrong and what he thinks I should do about it because he went to school twice as long as I did and he studied real science, not Keg Tapping 101. I’m not some trained monkey who can be conned into playing Detail Man for free to my physician on behalf of some pill company while paying the guy $160 for fifteen minutes of his time, ten of which he spends updating my file on a laptop computer before making eye contact. If they want me to sell their crap and blow in my doctor’s ear so he’ll prescribe it to me, I want a fat paycheck.

Perhaps you have noticed. It has been determined that there now is no activity of daily living not accompanied by a diagnosis and referral to either a pharmaceutical product, a lawyer, or both. One has to wonder how the human species made it thus far on its own. Madison Avenue has pulled off the ultimate coup by convincing a nation to be obsessed with each and every body part and function, and that there is a designated pill, tonic, salve, or therapy for every real or fantasized malfunction of each.

If a man happens to inadvertently lose his focus on the dispenser of parmesan cheese and is observed momentarily studying the backside of a passing waitress, his name is destined to be Mud, among other things. Yet, he can sit in the comfort of his own living room and join the rest of the viewing public in learning everything one might (or might not) want to know about her bodily functions, specialized potions, appliances, garments, personal care products, and more. Similarly, should Little Miss Muffet, aka Honey Boo Boo, stay up a few commercials past her bedtime, she’ll know everything one might (or might not) want HER to know about erectile dysfunction, so she can discuss it with her Kindergarten teacher in the morning and sit in on the subsequent Department of Human Services interview with her parents.

Who would have thought millions of decidedly macho American denizens of the gym, Mt. Everest, and other venues of sweat, spit, and gore limped humbly off to their family doctors for prescriptions enabling them to participate in an activity every living organism from the amoeba to the elephant taps into simply by virtue of taking up space, chewing its own cud, or exchanging gases? And none of them look a day over forty. And, not only that, but when “the urge strikes”, these guys do things like go to the movies, light a campfire, drive around in the mud pulling a horse trailer, or taking a bath!

It would all be incredibly funny except that it is non-stop, it is repetitive, and one has to suspect a lot of folks have been seduced into stupidity for the advertisers to continue running this foolishness day after day.

Sad.

 

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