The Swarming Commercials Engulf Us

29 Jul

It sure is great that I can fast forward through commercials when I watch a program I recorded, compared to the old days, when all you could do was sit there and get Calgon’s Two Water Softeners clockwork oranged into your head.

You know, they soften wash water so detergents clean better, right?  In hardest water, Calgon gets clothes up to 30% cleaner!

Excuse me a second here, but I’m a little OCD in this department.  Once I start the Calgon commercial…

We need more Calgon!  Ancient Chinese secret, huh?

Here’s a not-so-ancient American secret.  “Up to thirty percent” means “thirty percent or less.”  So Calgon could get your shirt, for instance, zero percent cleaner, and you’d still have a lie-free ad.  They didn’t give us a range.  They didn’t say, twenty to thirty percent cleaner.   They didn’t really say anything at all.

All that’s important is that I watched it, and I can’t unwatch it.

The commercials have been bracing for the digital reality of skipping traditional commercials for years, ever since DVRs first hit the market, just as sure as I’ve been cheering it.  But it’s a bit of a hollow victory, since they’re swarming now, and the television is the least of our concerns.

There are commercials pretty much everywhere you look.  I don’t know if they put them in stalls in the women’s room, but they sure do put them above the urinals. 

Standing there taking a leak, reading about the new Prius or the new flavored vodka or the old, vernerable insurance company which has no intention of paying you if your house gets blown down by a hurricane.

Now they’re right here on Facebook, conveniently sorted to my tastes.  Say, Tom, you like sushi and whiskey and Doctor Who – what do you think about this thing right here?

I think that it’s like Commericials were the queen bee of advertising, and once she died, or once she was terminally injured, the rest of the ads started to swarm, mad with terror.

I was driving along the outer belt today and passed a Sherwin Williams truck.  They’re a paint company, and they had a nice, creepy commerical painted on the side of their truck at driver eye-level, so I’d know all about it.

Their slogan was “Cover the Earth.”  And there was a picture of the earth, our beautiful, round, blue-green marble, and a bucket of Sherwin Williams paint above it, slightly larger than the planet.  The bucket was pouring paint over the entire planet, slopping down toward the equator like a species-threatening, extinction-level tsunami.

I don’t see how you are anything but crazy if you think that the idea of covering the earth with paint is going to produce a positive image in the brain of any human.  Especially since they went ahead and used bright, blood red paint – I’m serious, it was literally dripping off the equator.

Hmmm, what would sum up our company, our mission statement, our goal as a corporation?  Oh, I know – how about a small painting which epitomizes human arrogance, consumer-driven insanity, and a profound lack of respect for nature!

I like it when mortgage companies tell you that they have the best rates.  Well, that’s not quite what they say.  Usually it’s more like, no one has better rates than us.

Yes, and no other battery works better than Energizer, do they?  Of course, they do all work exactly the same.

And they don’t so much as tell you anymore as trick you into looking at their banner ad on the internet, by having a bear dancing to techno music draw your eye.   Or you’re watching Sports Center and suddenly it’s time for the Johnson Mortgage Has Really Low Rates Volleyball Report.  Or they write it in blood on a towel and wrap it around a brick and throw it through your bedroom window.

Commercials come through our computers, our cell phones, our radios, and as if that’s not enough, they are hung up anywhere that anyone is ever likely to point his or her head.  On the bus, on the sides of cars and trucks, in the sky, falling from little parachutes at hockey games, through the mail, on our pizza boxes.

And they are lying to us – make no mistake about it.  The only time they aren’t lying is when they aren’t talking about their products at all, they’re just showing us a thirty second movie of some guys drinking beer or a mom taking care of her kids or a girlfriend finding it hilarious that she just drove around with her boyfriend looking for his sunglasses for three hours and then they were in his hood the whole time.

You know, that’s not the archetypical Girlfriend I’ve experienced in the past.  Not really Wife behavior either.  For that matter, it isn’t Husband or Boyfriend behavior.

No, in general, when someone wastes three hours of your vacation time chasing something that was right next to the base of his skull the whole time, you don’t muse about true love and then for some reason attach that feeling to a certain kind of car.

The swarming ads don’t care about reality.  They care about drilling a lie into the middle of your mind, with a product at its core, like a psychic depth charge. 

You’re so smart and attractive and fun and laid-back and moral and sexy and cool and it makes total sense to go spend a hundred bucks on whatever this thing here is.

One depth charge wouldn’t be a big deal, but our brains get carpet bombed with them on an hourly basis. 

How do we know which of our ideas came from our minds, and which ones were dropped there by the army of digital cockroaches, swarming over us?

And why aren’t we all shrieking in horror at the insectile invasion of our own brains?  You know, these guys talked us all into buying tap water for a buck fifty a bottle, and then throwing the bottle into the Pacific Ocean, and buying another one the next time we wanted a drink.

Sure, I guess you could say I just need to block the ads out, but they’re everywhere, and I’m trying to experience this life.  Blocking out the ads would be like reading a document released by the Freedom of Information Act, where mostly it’s just blacked-out text.

Freedom of Speech also means Freedom to Babble Lies Into My Ears All Day And Night – I feel like I’m rocking back and forth on the floor of a CIA prison sometimes.

Good lord, I’ll buy whatever you guys want – JUST SHUT THE HELL UP FOR A WHILE PRETTY PLEASE!


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