Here’s an informal and certainly unscientific poll. Raise your hand if you think television commercials have reached a new low in offensiveness. Thanks. I thought so. I agree.
I thought we’d reached bottom when we found ourselves watching talking toilet lids. Or were they singing? Now, we are treated to open discussions of things that human decency dictates should be private — bowel movement difficulties; menstruation; sex, including but not limited to, erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, loss of sexual desire in women, being prepared for spontaneous intercourse. Are the children still in the room watching?
Why do commercials for cars emphasize their capacity for driving too fast? Is that why we would want to buy that car? These commercials invariably show their car speeding unrealistically on roads absolutely free of any other vehicle. What planet are they on?
Some of us born before television even existed remember when mention of a sponsor’s name and product was about all the advertising we heard when listening to the radio. Listeners were told that the news with Gabriel Heatter was brought to us by Bayer aspirin, and nothing further was said about the product or company. If I can still remember today, seven decades later, who the sponsor was, then that discreet mention must have been effective. That lesson is lost on TV advertising today. “Back after this word” now means prepare yourself for an assault on the senses, multiplied up to 10, yes 10, times before we are permitted to resume watching the program.
Advertising pays the bills. We understand that. To be fair, occasionally it even can offer information that might be useful to us, announcing the date and location of a coming concert or show featuring a favorite performer, for instance, or the fact that a favorite store is having a sale. Spare us, however, the hyperbole. Sales aren’t sales any longer. Now they are “events.” Really? Not in my world.
Television is not alone in its excesses. Recently my bride and I were assaulted with a full half-hour of eardrum-bursting previews at a local movie theater before the feature film came on. We stopped counting them at 20, but they were still coming. We walked out.