When I was a kid, we had no television. My parents did not approve of television, and in some ways, they were probably right. In the 1960s and 70s, they thought that TV was a bastion of evil. However, my grandparents, God bless them had television. When we went to visit once a month, we kids sat glued in front of the television, watching who knows what, while my parents and grandparents chatted the time away. We were out of their hair!
I remember counting the number of commercials between segments of the show we were watching. Two commercials. Two. We knew that we had only a few minutes to run to the bathroom or grab a quick snack before immersing ourselves once again in the delightful overdose of captivating tv that we were absorbing. Most of the time we just stayed in front of the screen staring at the commercials, knowing that we would have no opportunity to watch the boob tube again for until our next visit.
The commercials back then were mild by comparison. Advertisements included products like Barbies, games, toys from Mattel and Hasbro, the fascinating and yet somewhat grotesque Christie doll whose hair grew, Coke, Pepsi, Folgers, Maxwell House, Chevys, Fords, Marlboro, and some liquor and beer. My parents frowned sternly upon the cigarette and booze commercials, but then again, I guess they were onto something because the government did not approve of some of these products and later determined that these products did harm to the general public and should not be hawked on television.
And now, what has happened to the “two in two” (two commercials in two minutes)? These days the ads take up so much time that you can visit the bathroom at a leisurely pace, hop in the shower, toss in a load of wash, and pop popcorn on the stove the old fashioned way before your tv show returns to the screen. In today’s market commercials must not only sell, but entertain. Take the Doritos commercials, Geico, sentimental coffee commercials showing soldiers coming home from war for the holidays, McDonald’s new menus, and many other entertaining commercials that make the viewer want to run right out to purchase whatever the advertiser has to offer. After watching Diet Coke commercials, you can run right out and get four cases cheaply at the grocery store, and in no time at all after drinking Diet Coke, you will have a crowd of great friends, laughing and partying in addition to have a beach body, all promised by the commercials.
In keeping with the current moral climate, not only have television shows become blatantly sexual, violent, and unashamedly crude, so have the commercials. I may be dating myself here, but, I remember when Scott tissue paper focused its campaign on the bargain it was to purchase the “toilet paper with1000 sheets per roll.” Today, we see animated bears talked about skid marks on underwear and the wiping power of the paper. Really? Gone are the days when feminine products tastefully and quietly appeared in commercials after 8:00 pm; now, we endure personal testimonies of women with incontinence problems, heavy periods, and other delightful issues. I’m not even going to talk about the diagrams and demonstrations using blue liquid to showcase absorption.
Born into a family where bathroom issues were private, my family did not discuss or acknowledge flatulence, never mind speak of poopy pants and droopy drawers. If my mom ever sees today’s commercials of children sitting on flower pots dumping the dirt she may pass out. Special thanks to V.I.Poo commercials for which we have the added visual of “devil’s donuts” and the promise that V.I.Poo will eliminate odors from “punishing the porcelain” you have just desecrated. (The Poo Pourri commercials are insane.)
And can we talk about the list of potential side effects or various medications that are broadcasted loudly across my living room full of mixed company watching the Superbowl? (A physical malfunction lasting 4 hours?) Do they really need to tell you to seek medical help? And what about when my three year old grandchild asks loudly, “What’s that, Nana?”
The real kicker is the KY Jelly commercials. They have just gone crazy. KY used to have a ten second spot showing the box, but now, we get a dramatization, a real soap opera, that comes in installments. I won’t even go into the other contraceptive commercials. My face turns red at these commercials when I’m sitting alone watching TV, let alone if anyone is watching a show with me. “Uhm…look over there! Squirrel!” What happened to decency? Is nothing private?
Advertisers have really pushed the limits. I just don’t know what is next. My husband always had a great idea. Mute the commercials. Bless his heart. I’m going to do that…as soon as I find the remote control.