Not all television commercials are of Super Bowl interest or quality. A few remain entertaining, like the one for a spaghetti sauce in which a father, in his attempt to make dinner more interesting, uses a remote control to steer a toy helicopter around the table to his wife and each of his children in order to drop a load of tomato sauce on the pasta, the remote control finally going haywire so that the copter crashes into the china cabinet, creating an unforgettable dining experience for the family, despite destroying furniture, linens and clothing.
Most commercials, however, seem to be mind-numbing attempts to make us buy drugs, cosmetics, or gadgets, or they are messages from ambulance-chasing attorneys telling us about the heaps of money we can rake in by filing injury lawsuits against those drug companies that have already tried to absolve themselves of blame by using tiny print and fast but quiet announcer voices to list the myriad side effects (including possible death) their products present. One such attorney plea I watched yesterday afternoon went something like this:
ATTENTION THOSE WHO HAVE USED YASMO OR YASMINE!
If you have experienced heart palpitations, shortness of breath, faintness, stroke or even death,
You may be eligible for monetary compensation. We can help!
Such commercials are becoming more common in our litigation-addicted culture, perhaps partly because drug commercials are shown about every ten minutes. Half the time I can’t even tell what ailments the drugs are for, because I get caught up in the friendly, happy people walking on beaches with their dogs and friends. Our country seems obsessed by what is too often perceived as the easy fix of a pill from the pharmacy. We have honed our instant gratification needs almost down to an art form, one further developed by Madison Avenue toward the many, who seek easy ways to become thin, beautiful, healthy, or rich.
I’m not sure about the statistics on how many TV commercials the average Joe watches on a weekly basis, but I’m guessing the number is staggering. We live in a time when we are assaulted by so many unsolicited messages through TV, radio, texting, FaceBook, cellphones, and billboard ads, that many of us have simply shut down some of our receptors to prevent overload from the terrifying number of communications thrown at us, often indiscriminately, by all and sundry agents, all with their own agendas.
After a while, we begin to get numb, because the personal meaning of so much of what we watch, hear, and read through the media becomes negligible. I find it tragic that about the only thing that gets our undivided attention these days is a weather catastrophe, like a hurricane, or a mass shooting. We are on overload from too many choices and messages, the irony being that because there are more and more on an hourly basis, each becomes worth less and less until very little means much anymore, as the world becomes louder and more obnoxious in order to get our attention, divided or not. JB