They're Trying to Convince Me We're All Idiots.
Last weekend for us was one of those Private School Three Day-ers. Friday was deemed a "professional day" - whatever that means- and so our kids were home. I of course did no playdate planning for Friday or Saturday. Partly because I am a grump and was protesting the lack of school on a Friday. And partly because I do occasionally find benefit to my children and myself having "nothing" to do.
The result of this lackadaisical attitude was that I and my family was privy to a lot of advertising over the weekend. Mostly due to the large amount of TV watching. Including the dreaded "live" TV replete with the commercials. And apparently, as one who rarely consumes her television live and in the moment, I find that when you don't encounter ads for a long while, you start to really listen to them once you're re-introduced.
This led me to the conclusion that advertising is now not only insipid, boring, useless drivel I have to struggle through to get to the next chapter of my "high quality" nighttime soap opera....it is now possibly the devil's voice whispering in my ear. And what is the devil saying to me? The devil is saying that we American consumers are most assuredly....quite very...exceedingly...
We have to be in order to chow down on this amount of of ca-ca.
It all began with the Ford commercial Friday morning. Or maybe it was Chevy. Can't recall. HA ha! Beat you at your own game, fuckers! You spent 9.2 million bucks creating that ad and securing choice time slots for it and I can't even recall what car you were pushing on me! Nor even the MAKE!
Though I don't remember the make or model of the large gas guzzling full-size SUV that flashed itself upon my screen- good looking "mom" in pink plaid oxford button down and khaki pedal pushers unloading soccer ball after grocery bag after smiling athletic gear-clad child after family dog from within- I do recall one thing very particular. I do recall the voice-over which said something about how this car "boasts the largest amount of storage space of any other car in its class...blah blah." And then -- "You DESERVE that kind of convenience."
I do? I DESERVE it? What does that mean? What did I do to DESERVE convenience- specifically some sort of coveted amount thereof? Perhaps simply be born American? The land of convenience! (Also the land of child obesity, Big Gulps, Drive-thru Starbucks, lack of responsible gun laws?) I guess we all "deserve" what we get.
And then later on- I encountered a jaw-dropping PSA (the dropping jaw during which was of course, my own.) This PSA ran in three different segments during my On Demand program. Fast forward had been disabled due to programmers finally getting hip to the fact that given a choice on whether to watch ads or not- we'd all really rather skip it.
So I was forced to enjoy all three acts of this PSA focusing on how it might be really important to move a little bit during one's TV watching hours. One of the actresses starring in the show I was attempting to watch commercial-free was earnestly explaining into the camera lens how helpful it might be to "stand up" during commercial breaks. Perhaps "do a little dance" or at least "move your arms around and stomp your feet up and down." About how "easily we forget that movement is important." All the while simultaneously demonstrating each particular movement. So we'd be SURE to get what she's talking about. You know- "do a little dance. Like this."
(Sadly, many of us Americans living in the land of child and adult obesity actually have forgotten that moving one's body is pretty vital. So ok. Chalk one up for the advertisers. You win on that one.)
Then later on- I'm snuggling into bed for the night. TV is finally, thankfully OFF. Many a bedside read adorn my nightstand, all of which I'm concurrently in betwixt and between...I opt for the new monthly wildlife magazine that showed up in the mail that day. National Wildlife- A publication I assuredly began ordering years ago thinking, Hey, my kids like animals. And so- hundreds of unread issues later having repeatedly decorated the inside of our recycling bin-- I finally decided to crack one last night in bed. Cover filled edge to edge with chocolate brown musk oxen inhabiting frigid northern pastures.
I found myself muchly enjoying the images of the heavily carpeted musk oxen and their enormous teddy bear noses. Not to mention those crazy bone colored horns which grip the sides of their heads like a 1920's Flapper girl curls. Then came photos of some strange Alaskan barnacle-like crabs. And a huge swimming throng of sea lions. And then- I couldn't get too far into the magazine without running into it. The ADVERTISING. The crap which essentially pays for me to be able to have access to this delightful and informative nature magazine. Sadly, my yearly fee of $whatever.99 is not cutting it to keep things afloat.
So I come across this:
(And I am plagarizing here- literally copying text straight from a full page jewelry ad. Because some things are just perfect as they are.)
"SURRENDER TO 400 CARATS OF TEMPTATION.
Are you ready for this necklace? You might think you are, but when dealing with 400 carats of the most robust red gem on the planet, we want you to be prepared. Before you invite the S__ V__Ruby Necklace into your home for only $blahblah, you need to understand the consequences.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE: spotaneous kissing and hugging, increased heart rate, slow dancing and the urge to get away for the weekend. Some may experience: long walks on the beach, episodes of snuggling, spooning and staring lovingly into each other's eyes. Less serious side effects may include: increased appetite for romantic comedies and overuse of the words "honeypie" and "sweetheart."
SOUND DRAMATIC? you bet! But don't forget we're talking about ruby, the stone notorious for provoking passion, lust and intense romantic emotions throughout history....
(and my personal favorite part of the plug--)
WE DON'T PLAY BY THE LUXURY RULES. We took the S___V___ Ruby Necklace to an independent appraiser who works with auction houses, estate sales and insurance companies. He valued it at $BLAY DEE BLAH. We thanked him for his professional opinion and then ignored it! Because even if a gemologist tells us that this necklace is valued at over Blay Dee Blah, we want you to wear it for ONLY $blah blah. Yes, we're serious.
I want to find whoever wrote that copy and take them out for a drink. Good on ya, mate. That was atrocious! I mean- either I am a lot more of an anomaly than I believe I am, and the rest of the English speaking world is filled with complete boobs who smile knowingly at the "honeypie" part. Or- hopefully- they're filling costly space with things that look at lot like words and just vamping. Vamping to get to the large $WHATEVER.99 that you have to send it to PO Box Flamdee Flam. Or check out www.Rubiesnshitrus.com or some such.
I suppose it must be noted that a few pages later, another full page jewelry ad from the same company ran for their STUNNING 2-CARAT TANZANITE RING FOR ONLY BLOO DE BLOO! RANDOM COMPLIMENTS, HOWEVER, ARE ABSOLUTELY FREE."
Clearly, my favorite copywriter worked his magic on this one too. It's got his stamp all over it:
This is not the ring to wear if you want to blend in. Two carats of genuine tanzanite attracts attention. Lots of it. People will talk. That's just what happens when you wear the passionate purple stone experts have called "the most beautiful gem discovered in generations."
Well, ultimately, I suppose it costs nothing for me to close the magazine. Or turn off the television. Sometimes just stemming the constant influx of merchandising information in service of maintaining respect for my fellow human beings is worth it. Certainly worth more than $anything.99.
We've got another three day weekend coming up in a mere few days. You better believe this time around,the "do nothing" strategy will be replaced by some serious scheduling. This weekend- I'm making PLANS.