Is it just me, or are TV commercials getting spooky? In the good old days there were jolly jingles and cutesy characters selling products cheerfully. The new trend in commercialism involves scare tactics more frightening than Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Gone are the days of warm, fuzzy neighbors like Mrs. Olsen greeting us with a steaming cup of coffee; now we get a mysterious man in a lab coat warning of the dangers of high blood pressure probably brought on by too much caffeine — it turns out Mrs. Olsen was trying to kill us!
Anyone remember Mr. Whipple scolding us for something as silly as squeezing the Charmin? Now the scoldings have gone from silly to serious and if we don’t pay attention and wind up fat, lazy or stupid it’s our own darn fault. Is this really what we want to hear when we’re reaching for a biggie-sized bacon burger during the commercial break?
Never mind that every fitness and dieting ad is followed by one for fast food. Viewers are led on a schizophrenic roller coaster ride of lip-smacking euphoria followed by a neck snapping jolt of reality at the reminder of ballooning weight and the image of being cut out of the house with a blowtorch and buried in a piano case.
Likewise, when they aren’t showing public service announcements about the dangers of drugs, they’re overwhelming us with ads promoting the need for pharmaceuticals. And oh those side effects!
Need a pill to help you sleep? They’ve got something for you but one of the side effects is insomnia. Anxiety disorders? There’s a pill for that too, but it produces anxiousness in some patients (with the high cost of prescriptions these days, isn’t it cheaper just to be anxious on your own?) There’s even a medication for shyness with a fancy technical name like wallflowerphobiaitis, but it has a laughably long list of ill effects including everything from hallucinations and halitosis to elephant man syndrome, making you wonder if the old fashioned method of taking a slug of whiskey wasn’t a whole lot healthier in the long run.
And don’t you love the warnings to pregnant women? Don’t take this pill if you are pregnant, think you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant or are currently flirting with the man across the hall. Pregnant women should not handle broken tablets (but its okay to swallow them). What are they, radioactive?
Don’t be surprised if soon there’s a new product on the market –- a pill that relieves the stress caused by watching stressful TV commercials. I already have a home remedy of my own — it’s called the mute button. Available without a prescription and there are no harmful side effects.