Horizontal Hold Channel 6:
Does Scaring People Sell?
by P. Kellach
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 on....it'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
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?
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 ½ 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
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
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 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!