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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 in an annoying nutshell


Happy 2013! When we were on the cusp of Mayapocalypse, it felt really petty to whine about the little things, especially if it’s all going to end around Dec 21. So I just shut up, held it all in, and made it through the holidays. With barely a whimper, the Gregorian calendars creaked into 2013, leaving Mayan doomsayer predictions in our wake. Another disappointing Armageddon. In honour of the continuation of the world at large, I’m going to delve once more into the minutiae of life and moan a little about a First World problem: TV commercials.

I watch TV. It’s how I was raised, dang-nabit, and I’m not going to give it up without a fight. In this modern world, I’m starting to get strange looks when I tell people I even OWN a TV. “I just watch stuff on my computer,” they say. The more righteous like to ask “how do you watch that crap?” In answer, I say “with difficulty.” I can choose the programs I want to see, but I have no control over the commercials that program chooses to air. DVR technology has saved years of my life that would otherwise have been lost to commercial-induced stress. See, I am one of those people that talks back to the TV, mocking what should be mocked, and sometimes yelling at particularly stupid commercials, commentators, or statements. It’s a television version of “road rage,” only less likely to end in a rear-ending situation and a fist-fight on the corner of 1st & Victoria. I find it therapeutic to crack wise at an inanimate object. Maybe it’s a sign of early-onset dementia, but it might also be due to the fact that I spend my days with a 1-year old and a non-verbal pre-teen. Conversation is a rare commodity, so I make my own.

It’s also an interesting comment on how stupid the public is perceived to be. Or maybe we really are that stupid, because companies spend millions of dollars on slogans and commercials to try and gull us into buying their products. Certainly at least one of the two sides in this relationship is dumb, and my money’s on us, since we’re middle class and the companies in question rake in grotesque profits from our generosity.

For example: the campaign for “5 Hour Energy,” a shot-version energy drink. Their spokeswoman says, very somber, that “Doctors recommend using a low-calories energy drink for patients who use energy drinks.” As their product has very few calories compared to other brands, we should all rush out and buy some, right? Doctors said so! Forgetting that doctors have also in previous decades recommended having a smoke to “calm your frayed nerves and live longer,” the skeptical mind reads the quoted statement and interprets it differently. What it actually means is “Doctors say you’re idiots if you use energy drinks, but if you’re doing to in spite of our advice, you may as well use one that has less calories. At least then you won’t add obesity to your list of medical problems.”
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American drug commercials are a favourite of mine, especially the list of possible side-effects. I have to say, I wouldn’t trade “low energy level” for “death” or “kidney failure.” Maybe that’s fair for erectile dysfunction, but for that “meh” feeling we all have? Forget it. The drug names are always a good time, too. Based solely on its name, my current favourite is “Abilify.” Doesn’t it sound reassuring? I hope it catches on as part of our ever-changing language. “I’ve been abilified.” What couldn’t I do then? One of its uses is to treat manic episodes. One of its side-effects is to cause anxiety. These seem at cross-purposes.
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The aforementioned 1-year old gets up early, as they are wont to do. One result of this has been occasionally bumping into early-morning infomercials. Many of them revolve around exercise equipment. While I recognize that the wee hours allow for cost reduction in running these infomercials, I would suggest that the type of person generally awake and watching TV at 4 am is either a) already in possession of all the exercise equipment they need, as they are currently using it, or b) the kind of lazy slacker for whom running on a treadmill is akin to Superman having a nice spinach-and-Kryptonite salad. I can only presume the ability of the human brain to resist suggestion at this point is so low that, in spite of a lack of desire to own or use, many Tread Climbers do nevertheless get sold and subsequently become laundry racks for dirty clothes.
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Shot in black-and-white for that “artistic touch,” there’s a commercial for hair dye. A stylist says, “I’ve been colouring her hair for years, but lately she’s been showing up with less gray.” His face turns impish. “What’s she up to?” he asks. This is the dumbest man in the world. What’s she up to? SHE’S COLOURING HER OWN HAIR, YOU DOLT! It does beg the further question of why she’s bothering to get her hair coloured twice. Either she’s also stupid, or lusty for her stylist, or the product being advertised does a crappy, temporary job.
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This is my current “most-hated.” The commercial is for laundry detergent. A middle-aged couple are folding clothes in their living room. They say something like, “I’ve seen that commercial where the parents are complaining about all the laundry they have to do because they’ve got twins. Ha! Wait until your twins move back home. THEN you’ll have some work to do.” Are you freaking kidding me? You’ve let your adult children move back into the house and then DO THEIR LAUNDRY FOR THEM!! If you’re that stupid, you deserve what you get. Idiots. Not just the fake parents in the commercial, but the goobers who thought this would be a good idea, too.

Whew. I’m all riled up now. I’m going to go yell at some butterflies.