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Horizontal Hold Channel 6:

Does Scaring People Sell?

by P. Kellach Waddle

As I was surfing the other day (channel surfing that is, I am not some faggy guy who's skin and hair colors do not exist in the natural God's universe and who doesn't own socks, though I DO call my buddies DUDE a lot), I realized what is scaring me about TV more than ever these days. No, it's not any of the usual literati lamenting over the brain-decayingness of most of the material on the shows....or "WWF SmackDown"...or even that "Veronica's Closet" is still's something that used to provide me with comfort as a tyke with their catchy songs and platitudinous promises that a certain product will cause you to see God, fix your love life AND your bathroom, and make you a decent human being.

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen...

Screw the new released cut of The Exorcist...what is causing me to have nightmares lately in my TV- Watching existence is COMMERCIALS.

Is anyone else petrified that one day we are going to find out that that large African-American lady who keeps telling you to call that psychic hotline AND the lady with the umbrella who keeps rhapsodizing about Pine-Sol are the SAME PERSON? What if it all gets mixed together someday and the phone-lady's answer to every question from "Is my Husband having an affair? to "Is there something askance with my uterus?" turns out to be "You just need To make your bathroom smell like a pine forest!"

And ANOTHER thing...with all the PC-ing of TV PROGRAMS these days including a recently controversial lambasting of the main broadcast networks for not having enough minority representation...doesn't ANYONE, regardless of how non-liberal you may be, find it CREEPY that NONE of the people interviewed about their feelings about said psychic reading from the auspices of Mrs. Psychic-possibly-also-Pine-Sol are Caucasian? What about that girl who is SUCH a stereotype she all but says "Girrrlllll, I thought they's lyin' girl...I thought they's lyin...but I'm calling up Aquaneesha right now and telling her ass to call"? Isn't ANYONE frightened about the message this is sending? That ONLY black and Hispanic WOMEN are pathetic enough to apend hard-earned money they probably DO NOT have to listen to this hogwash?

It scares me no one seems to be noticing this.

Ok, and what about the fact that now detergent almost makes me cry before I get all pissed off and realize it's about something else? Explanation:

There is a new commercial for All washing powder that has just started running that for the first half is just a shot-on-videotape sequence of a little boy and a dog playing in the dirt.

Ok, TV addicts? Does THIS sound familiar? What if I add the extra fact that the cute-little-boy-and-doggy sequence for a good, terrifying 40 seconds or so is DEADLY silent, no music underscore or anything?

That's right. I am completely expecting it to flash on the screen that said cute little boy (and probably his doggy too) were killed by a drunk driver on such and such a date. No, do not damn me to hell...I am not for an INSTANT making fun of these rather effective spots of the last ten years hammering home the tragedy of what happens when drunken drivers kill innocent little folks...but this is SO excruciatingly manipulative!!! Am I to believe that the producers of this All detergent spot DO NOT notice the resemblance? (Yeah right, and "Boy Meets World" is gonna sweep the Emmys next year.) One moment you are captivated and lump-throated by a possible declaration of a tragic, useless death....only to be sideswiped with the ...Ahem..."helpful" and equally earth-shattering information of how to wash the little boy's SHIRT!!! Five times I have watched this hideous commercial screaming "That little boy's NOT dead !! He is just DIRTY!!" This is gross Madison Avenue.

And yes, it IS scary.

And this list goes on and on...I can't eat an M&M anymore without thinking one of the cute little bastards are going to pop out and expect me to be a celebrity with which to share witty repartee ...I can't open my refrigerator in the middle of the night without thinking a toaster strudel, an egg, some cheese, or various other suddenly lingual foodstuffs are going to start berating me for some grocery purchasing miscarriage of wisdom. And let's go to the bathroom: I am a straight MAN, who lives ALONE...I am NOT SUPPOSED to be worried about the fact my definitely non-gleaming toilet cannot also serve as a satellite mirror (But I am starting to...thanks to all those rather attractive women encouraging me to do so. And THAT Scares me.)

And do not get me started on wondering if my disembodied Levi's are carrying on paint-splattered 9 Weeks-esque heavy-breathing Lamabadas in their own apartments when they are not on my person.

Scary. Scary. Scary.

What happened to the good old days? I had no problem as a little boy cheerfully brushing my teeth and singing "The clean in your mouth is... Colgate." I Quite happily spelled B-O-L-O-G-N-A musically as I chomped my lunchtime sandwiches. I quite entertainingly teased people after a sweaty day that they shouldn't raise their hands because they probably weren't SURE. Where is this joy now? Now I am psychologically assaulted for 5 minutes between acts of TV shows thereby inspiring me to surf MORE THAN EVER as to avoid any traumatizing visions of seemingly innocuous products.

And isn't that against the point of all of this relentless advertising?

Maybe it's always been scary and I was just naive before. Why would I come to this conclusion? A classic product I thought had vanished for ages suddenly appeared to me in the drug store last week that I eagerly snatched up...

BRYLCREEM!! Even though most of us Gen X people could possibly only BARELY remember this pre-mousse, pre-gel hair applicant's ad which had perhaps the happiest commercial song of all time..."A little dab will do ya"...the jingle is still ingrained in the knowledge of any self-respecting pop-culture guru. But something very...very very very very scary happened as I cheerfully and nostalgically began singing the long-missed dabbing ditty...

The jingle lied.

Granted, I have RATHER voluminous hair (see my pic on my website for the shocking proof)...but a little dab didn't do me. Matter of fact half a handful barely held for 45 minutes.

A commcerical told me a fib.

Maybe they always have been lying to me.

That's scarier than Pine Sol Psychics and Talking Candy that doesn't melt in your hand !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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