I love television. I always have and I suspect I always will. I saw the first episode of Sesame Street, tuned in for MTV‘s first day on the air and generally fell asleep trying to stay up and watch Saturday Night Live during its early seasons. Television has been my companion, my babysitter and my teacher. I can walk into my kitchen and instantly forget what I went in there for, but I can remember theme songs and commercial jingles from better than forty years ago.
I never even minded commercials too much. They gave me a chance to get a snack, run to the restroom or talk about what had just happened on the show I was watching. I still haven’t gotten around to getting a DVR, so unlike many people, commercials are still part of my life. Some are even funny or entertaining. I love Flo, the Progressive Insurance spokesperson and some of her more recent commercials just crack me up … “Sprinkles are for winners.” Hahaha!
But as entertaining and well-done as some ads are, there are far more that are amateurish, unpleasant, gross and/or disturbing. I used to be mortified by ads for Kotex and tampons, especially when having a period was something new in my life. If I was watching TV with my dad or brothers when those commercials aired, I would just stare straight ahead at the television because I knew that they knew that I used those products … those vagina-related products.
Being worried they’d tease me or say something to embarrass me, wasn’t a completely unfounded paranoia. Once my mom sent my older brother and me to the store; and while he was getting things on the shopping list, I skipped over to the Products For Lady Parts aisle to get some products for my lady parts. When my brother came down the aisle I was holding a box of tampons and two boxes of pads – – one for heavy days and the other for light days, I don’t think panty-liners had yet been invented.
Anyway, my brother saw me standing there, my arms full of products of varying levels of absorbency, and said (rather loudly, as he was at the other end of the aisle), “Jeez!! What are you? A hemophiliac?” Of course, I reacted as only barely teenage girl can; I threw the boxes into the cart and flounced out of the store. I imagine there was probably an “I’m telling mom” thrown in, as well.
I’ve recovered from the trauma and deep psychological scars of that event, and can once again walk into the feminine hygiene area without suffering flashbacks and panic attacks. But it seems that in the last few years, advertisers have been pushing limits to see what they can get away with in terms of causing us discomfort, embarrassment or queasiness.
For example, most people like dogs and cats, many of those think the ASPCA does good and worthwhile work, and among those you’ll find some Sara McLachlan fans. Do you know how many animal-loving, ASPCA-supporting Sara McLachlan fans like the commercials where she sings while we’re shown photos of neglected and abused animals? None. Not one. Every single person either mutes it, changes the channel or leaves the room as soon as that first sad-eyed animal appears. I believe it’s actually the most hated commercial ever produced. And while I’m sure it generates enough guilt to score some donations, the ASPCA could make a lot more if people knew part of their contribution went toward taking those ads off the air. Permanently.
The ASPCA spots often seem to show up on the same channel or during the same program as the Childfund commercials for kids living in poverty. And while it’s not something most would like to admit, anyone I’ve ever asked says the homeless puppy commercials make them feel worse than the starving children ones do.
While ASPCA and Childfund ads are disturbing and depressing, the ones for some other products are just disgusting. The Mucinex mascot is an anthropomorphic ball of snot! I imagine some ad exec blowing his nose during a brain-storming meeting, surreptitiously sneaking a peek at the tissue’s contents and a light-bulb appearing over his head as he says, “Gee fellas, I’ve got a swell idea!” Did I mention that the brain-storming meeting took place in the 1940s?
Not to be outdone, the makers of Zicam created a mucus monster who chases people down the street while runners of snot flow from his nose and over his upper lip.
What’s next? Is Imodium going demonstrate how well it works by showing us before and after poo? Will we be treated to some projectile vomiting from the makers of Ipecac?
Speaking of before and after, I won’t be surprised if the Cottonelle bum-wipe lady eventually starts showing us skivvies with 48% fewer skidmarks. I imagine that, like commercial urine and blood, the streaks will be an inoffensive Windex-blue.
And what’s going on with Summer’s Eve and Vagisil? There’s a woman in a Vagisil commercial who reveals that she found out about “feminine odor” the hard way. What the hell is the hard way? Did a banner-towing plane with a personal message fly over her wedding reception? Did someone think buying commercial air-time during the Super Bowl was a good way to tell her?
Also, thanks Summer’s Eve, but we don’t need special vagina soap, and having squeaky clean lady bits does not cause one to strut or swagger. Is there a special soap men need to wash their balls? No? Have you ever smelled balls???
Perhaps it’s time for Axe or Old Spice to remedy the glaring absence of deodorizing scrotal-scrub …