Surely we’re all smarter than the TV commercials imply. I doubt anyone even pays attention anymore. But today I saw an ad that blew me away. I mean, we’ve all gotten used to the ones that caution us about the drugs they’re pushing. The ones that say “Do not take this drug if you are allergic to it or any of its ingredients.” Really? You have to be told to not take something you are allergic to? Of course, you are not listening because you are looking at the couple sitting contentedly at the end of the dock enjoying the evening. (By the way, have you ever noticed how many drug commercials show people near water — on a lake or at the ocean? There must be something captivating about water that makes us ignore everything else.)
And the car commercials that show cars doing impossible things are no better. The voice-over or the caption at the bottom of the screen says something like, “Professional stunt driver, Do not attempt,” but you are so captured by the sight of a car careening around the corner on two wheels that you pay no attention to that at all. Someone told me a story of their young driver who tried to cross a rushing stream in his brand new Jeep. The car got swept away and the kid nearly drowned. When asked what on earth he was thinking, he said tearfully, “but that’s what they do in the ads.” Right. It’s on TV so it must be true.
I am fascinated by the commercials for grocery pickup at Walmart. They show a super-hero, or maybe it’s a transformer (is there a difference?) flying in, landing and then somehow changing into a Volkswagen. As the employee cheerfully loads the car with bags of groceries, the caption at the bottom says, “do not attempt.” Do not attempt what? Do not attempt to become a car that can transform itself into a flying giant? I mean, obviously you are not going to try to fly or transform yourself into a Volkswagen — or are you? Or maybe they mean do not attempt to become a Walmart employee? Do not attempt to load groceries into the back of your car? I suppose the companies now feel that they have to put this disclaimer on anything and everything because there really is someone out there who can’t separate reality from fiction.
One that hits particularly close to home is the ad for the Inogen that shows a perky little thing, probably about 30, on the tennis court with her Inogen. Uh, lemme tell you — that sucker is heavy! I am very grateful for the one I was given because now I can fly down to UCLA and not have to make the two-day 600 mile drive, but dashing from one side of the tennis court to the other with 12 pounds of metal strapped to your back?? I don’t think so. Of course, these days I don’t dash anywhere at all, but I doubt even the perky 30 year old will be dashing for long.
But the ad I just saw that blew me away is for life insurance. A man is in his garage tinkering and his wife comes out asking “what are you doing?” He tells her he is making a time machine so he can go back to a time when life insurance was much more reasonable. She explains to him (the big dope) that he doesn’t have to do that because the rates at Colonial Penn are very reasonable. He is amazed! He removes the metal colander from his head that has wires attached to a clock, jumps off his stationary bike and gives her a big hug. I mean, this guy married way above his pay grade. Anyway, the caption under all this reads: “Do not attempt. Time machines are not real.” Noooo! They’re not? They just crushed my great fantasy of going back in time and meeting Elvis (the real one) in person. I guess it’s never gonna happen.
So no time machines and no driving Jeeps through rushing rivers, and playing tennis with an Inogen strapped to my back is a fantasy. Next thing you know, the ads at Christmas featuring Santa will have a disclaimer, and then they’ll be saying that reindeer don’t fly. You know, life is hard enough as it is — please leave me some illusions!
What the heck — maybe I’ll just go rummage through my medicine cabinet and see if I can’t find something I’m allergic to.