How daytime tv commercials have revealed our societal values

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We can learn a lot about our culture from commercials.  I am surely not the first to make this observation.  As we know, every generation thinks the next generation sucks, and will lead us to doom.  If you are below 40-ish, you probably think the Beatles are tame, boring, and overrated.  Not to the parents of the baby boomers.  They saw the Beatles as a bunch of long haired hippy freaks.  When the Beatles first came to America in 1964, half the questions at their press conference was about their haircuts, and why was it so long.  Ringo had the best reply.  Some square asked him what he called his haircut.  He said something like “I call it Arthur”.  I am also sure you know the America’s parents were super duper freaked out by Elvis.  His sexuality was so raw that TV stations were ordered to only film him from the chest up.

Don’t act like you are above it, either.  I’ve heard your whole rant about kids sports games where everyone gets a trophy.  This is sorta like that.  Follow me down, and back –

When I could come home from school, I’d watch Scooby Doo every day.  I was a latchkey kid, not that its any of your business, William!  This would be the early 80s.  Commercials were aimed at people home on the middle of a weekday afternoon, not working.  So, the commercials were for jobs.  More specifically, careers.  Dog grooming was one, trucking was a BIG one, and various certificates you could get from very dodgy institutions.  The subtext was very clearly this – why are you at home in the middle of a weekday watching tv?   Jesus Christ man, get your shit together.  You need to work.  Clearly, you have no discernible or marketable skills… or you wouldn’t be watching Scooby Doo right now.  Come join our company.  We need people bad.  How bad?   We’ll take you!

*** but the gist was, if you are an adult and it’s the middle of the weekday, you should be working. We don’t know why you aren’t working, but odds are you can do something.  “Get up, man.  Put some pants on, and get back out there!”  It made sense to me.  Both of my parents were working.  It had an effect on me, and I think a positive one.  Between my parents as role models, as the messages of the culture, work was what you did when you were a grown up.  I have been working since I was 12, running a one kid landscaping service.  it sucked ass, moving wildly overgrown lawns for $10 on a 120 degree day.

Today, though, if you watch daytime tv…  that message is long gone.  Now, its mostly lawyers.  And their message is “what are you doing at home?  You aren’t working?  Calm down, it’s ok.  Its not your fault.  It’s their fault, and we are going to sue the holy fuck out of them!  You think you aren’t working now, wait until we’re done with you.  You’ll never have to work again.  Work is for suckers.  Plus, look at you; you are clearly disabled on several levels.  No worries, we got lawsuits for that, too!  Were you ever asked to take out the garbage when you were a kid?   Did you ever have to watch PBS against your will?  Call our firm now, time is running out.”

The other 40% of commercials, at least on the crap ass free over the air channels I watch, are for some kind of Medicare fraud.  Now that I think about it, it’s a clever demo to target.  “Dude, you don’t even have cable?   Wtf?  Is it 1980 at your house?   Who wronged you?  Let’s get ‘em.  And don’t forget that Medicare owes you a shit ton of money, bro.

The Medicare stuff really pisses me off.  It all looks like fraud to me, as I have worked in Medicare and Medicaid related jobs for a few years now.  Plus, I was a fraud investigator.  Medicare, and Medicaid are meant to be safety nets.  Worst case scenario.  Not just shit you are entitled to.  You aren’t entitled to free govt money, you leach.  I hate to go all Ayn Rand here, but why am I working so that you can sit at home and collect my tax dollars.  Fuck you, buddy.  I am going to get the Strong Arm – Frank Azar – and sue your ass for not working and sucking up my taxpayer dollars.  The ones that are supposed to go to fighter jets to protect our way of life (that way of life being… not working… just sue someone).  ‘Merica!

Wait, I am going to get this guy, based out of Phx.  This commercial is so gonzo and meta, I feel like its SNL and the Onion having a baby.  What’s better?  It’s real, baby!  

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