Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Viewer Discretion Advised

   Television can be very entertaining, fun…and sometimes even educational. Much of the time though it’s just a tool to push the latest in propaganda and although it may not seem like it, some of those thirty second advertisements are downright dangerous. Let me clarify that last statement…they’re dangerous if you don’t pay attention to the information stream creeping into your brain.

   I haven’t researched the statistics about how many people pay attention to commercials, what time of day the most attention is paid, or how many people, overall, are influenced by them. I do know that tons of money and research has gone into making commercials the way they are today…so there has to be some positive outcome for it on the corporate side, or else they wouldn’t waste either the time or the money.

   Ever just take a moment to analyze some of these commercials? I did. It was so fascinating that I now take a moment to analyze any new commercial I haven’t already seen numerous times. Don’t get me wrong, some of these ads are hilarious (to me anyway) in their presentation, even if the underlying subliminal message is not. The drone of sarcasm delivered by Mark Strong in the new Miller Fortune commercial has me in stitches (“Oh no, they’ve put up a sign. Capital letters mean business.”). However, you might be in stitches (real ones) if you let the subliminal message to drink up enough courage to trespass sink in. 

   How about all these credit card commercials offering reward points for using them? I love how they make it seem like getting the reward points is the entire point of using the card, ignoring the fact that you have to make purchases to get the points…producing a bill that has to be paid. It had me questioning if people are really out there just looking for opportunities to swipe their card just to score points? It’s no wonder we are a nation in debt.

   How about these insurance companies battling over quote times? Have we truly become a “now” nation that fifteen minutes is just too long to deal with a company to lower your insurance cost? The competitor now can do it in seven minutes, and save even more! Yeah…sure. Personally, if I could save even more at a time cost of twenty minutes, then twenty minutes is what I’d be spending on the phone for my quote. After all, isn’t it the savings I’m looking for, not how much time I can save getting those savings?

   Some of these commercials are just ridiculous. All of them have the “small print” at the bottom of the screen, but who can actually read it? I’ve tried, but they flash it so quick, and make it so small, I barely understand that it says they have the legal right to lie to you, as long as they say they are lying to you in print you can’t read. Too funny.

   Although the above examples are ridiculous, I was serious when I mentioned that commercials can be dangerous if you let them influence you. There is no better example than prescription drug commercials. I used to laugh at the long list of side effects the announcer goes through at professional auctioneer speeds until those effects went from mild inconveniences to the possibility of death.

   Umm…when did it make sense to risk death for a problem that isn’t life threatening? I’ve dealt with this before, but now it’s being pushed in nearly every drug commercial. As if the audience is too stupid to understand this (are we?) or worse yet, the drugs have all just become that much more lethal. It’s no wonder 100,000 Americans die each year from prescription drugs…used as directed. But is it only the fault of the industry, or do we, the public, share some culpability for not using our ability to think critically about our health?

   Responsibility for your health and finances rests with you first, and if you drop the ball, then expect someone else to pick it up and play you.

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