Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Truth in Advertising

I am tired of overly beautiful people peddling crap. Not that I’ve ever met any in real life; I haven’t because they don’t really exist, all these perfect-haired, perfect-abbed and zitless avatars that crowd our world and sell us stuff. I’m referring to the models and actors, male and female, young and old, pitching cars and pills and mortgages, wireless service and hemorrhoid ointment and companies that will take your money and invest it better than you ever could, except maybe sometimes not. And it’s not only Victoria’s Secret wannabes. It’s perfect men, too, whose shoulder-width-to-waist-size ratio was never God-given. Oh, and before I forget, all those perfectly cute children that never dirtied a diaper or bashed a sibling on the head with a Tickle Me Elmo. They’re three years old and talk in the subjunctive without even being French.
Sometime and somewhere, someone managed to persuade us that listening to these physically admirable folks and taking their advice would make us look like them and enjoy their lifestyles, which are monumentally better than ours. This was an amazing piece of manipulation that, in spite of our best efforts, still works like a charm. We are besieged with perfect grandparents in assisted living situations when we know and remember perfectly well how arduous and emotionally draining it was getting gramps into the Sunshine Hollow efficiency apartment after gamma passed away. And of course, we’re completely aware that the big-busted and roundly-hipped model promoting shampoo had her hair professionally attended to before shooting the ad. Women buyers of the product will not, ever, look like her.  No more than men who purchase that masculine smelling bodywash will trek the Himalayas tomorrow. And yet…
Perhaps it’s the insincerity of it all that bothers me. I wonder if it isn’t time to force advertisers to come clean, like the drug companies selling anti-depressants. They can’t simply say. “Take Elaterada and be happy the rest of your life.” The FDA stepped in after too many Elaterada users became addicts, or killed themselves, or turned green, and now the ads will include a perfectly female monotonic voice reciting the possible side-effects of the concoction. “Elaterada may cause stomach upset, nausea, fatigue, headache, tremor, nervousness and dry mouth, postural blood pressure changes resulting in dizziness, constipation, difficulty urinating, blurred vision, weight gain and drowsiness, rapid heartbeat, dilated pupils, flushed face and agitation, confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, irregular heart rate, cardiorespiratory collapse and death. Do not eat cheese, meat, chicken, green vegetables, nuts, or aged cheese when taking Elaterada.  Do not drive 18-wheelers or operate construction equipment.(Cut to music) Be happy again with Elaterada.”

Imagine if the ad trying to sell you a new and overpowered SUV ended with an overweight man staring into the camera and saying, “Buying the XRV-16 may lead to unsafe driving, speeding, traffic tickets, fines and imprisonment or death of you or others. Do not drive the XRV-16 when drunk or high on legal or illegal drugs. Do not engage in texting, sexting or sex while driving. Driving the XRV-16 is not suggested for insulin-dependent diabetics, people with fibromyalgia, irregular heartbeat, memory loss, weak kidneys, ulcerated stomach linings or any issue named in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV).” 
Truth in advertising. Personally, I’d find that really entertaining.

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