Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Great TV Experiment (A Rant in Many Verses)

Inspired by Charlotte (who doesn't watch TV, but nonetheless gave me the inspiration).
First off, though, I want to say Happy St. Patrick's day! (Note the cool green background!) I meant to post yesterday, but I was a little distracted. And by "distracted" I mean, of course, CRAZED.
So, a couple of weeks ago I did an experiment. I subjected myself to a few hours of daytime television. (Yes, I know. The Sacrifice. You can thank me later.)
My first thought was "These people who live in these fictional towns where all the soap operas take place should seriously consider moving. I mean, I realize the housing market is crappy, but REALLY! Go move somewhere where there's considerably less drama! And where your neighbors have heard of phones, and don't make a habit of showing up at your door at inconvenient moments (like when you're about to sleep with your estranged husband's brother, who is the father of the child his sister-in-law recently gave birth to, after she lied to his OTHER brother about having a drunken affair with HIM and getting pregnant, forcing him to leave his beloved fiancee to marry her. Whew!) Or where people don't make a habit of talking to themselves, saying things like "I just hope my husband never finds out that he's not the father! That I was abducted by aliens and held captive on the mother ship, where I met Elvis and just couldn't help myself! He is The King, after all!" only to have said husband walk into the room AT THAT EXACT MOMENT and overhear everything!
(I don't know if the latter is an actual soap opera plot, but the former TOTALLY is!)
The point of this experiment was NOT to catch up on my soaps (is that even possible?!?!?!), but to take a look at the ads.
Daytime ads are targeted towards women. The assumption being, I guess, that we little women are at home all day while our studly husbands go off to conquer the workplace and bring home the bacon. So the ads are for haircare products, makeup, moisturizers, tooth whiteners, hair removal products, weight loss pills/services/foods, "Womens' Hygene," yeast infection meds, cellulite removers, callus removers, and many others. Then there's the anti-depressants, migraine meds, cleaning products, varuois foodstuffs, etc. There are MANY more products geared primarily or solely toward women, but these are the ones I remember. (There's also yogurt, but Sarah at "Target: Women" tackles that one so much better than I ever could!)

Let me get this out of the way: I hate ads. For the most part. Some are creative and entertaining, but the basic premise is to get us to buy Stuff. And the way they do it, when women are involved, is to first make us feel badly about ourselves so that we will buy Stuff. (For men, it's more about boosting their egos[or other bodily part, thank you Viagra] so that they will buy Stuff.) I also have to say that I know a number of the actors who appear in these ads. I'm happy for them: a national ad will pay A LOT of money, and most of these folks have families. So, good for them.
But I still hate most ads.
After a single afternoon of exposure to these commercials, here are some of the messages I got:
There is not a single inch of my body that cannot be "improved" somehow. (See "Never Say Diet" for a post on EYELASH EXTENSIONS.)
My house CAN be perfectly clean. And, in the case of Clorox, COMPLETELY WHITE. (Which says something, even if it's not overt.) Of course, I shouldn't interact with my kids until it is so. Sorry, guys! Mommy can't read you that story, or help with your homework, or play with you! The dishes aren't done yet, and there's soap scum in the tub! Oh, and let me interrupt you telling me about school so I can run downstairs and add just the right amount of fabric softener to the laundry!
If I'm unlucky enough to have a infection "down there," I'd better wrap myself in ugly gray sweats from head to toe, close the curtains, and stay inside until it's cleared up. Good thing I don't have a job to go to, otherwise I'd be fired after burrowing indoors and shunning company and sunlight for a week!
If I'm prone to migraines (which, fortunately, I'm not) or depression (which, unfortunately, I am), it's better to take a hugely expensive pill (or to add another pill on top of the one I'm already taking) than it would be to use alternative, equally effective methods that take longer but cost less, and don't have side effects like "Death." Don't get me wrong, I LOVE me some (generic) Zoloft, and people with migraines should not be forced to suffer, but sometimes the side effects are worse than the original symptoms. And the cost! Oy!
How do I know if I'm depressed? Oh, that's easy! Out come the ugly gray sweats again (even if I'm not currently suffering from any kind of infection), I stay in bed, I can't eat or sleep or work or BATHE. My cat is ignored. I have no energy.
(Unless, of course, my symptoms appear in the EXACT OPPOSITE WAY: I become an over-achiever, a perfectionist, I over-schedule my day so that I never have to be alone with my thoughts, I'm super-productive, I eat A LOT, and have NO IDEA that I'm depressed because I don't fit the profile from TV!!!!!!!! I only realize I may have a problem when, driving home from work one night ['cause I actually do have a job], I think about driving my car off of the bridge and into the river below so that I can off myself without hurting anyone else.)
Oh, and I should always look like I'm 19 years old, whether I'm actually 12 or 60.
I should be a sexpot, except when the kids are around. Then I need to dress in Khaki capris, a t-shirt, and a button-down, with flat shoes and, natch, a sweater tied around my neck. Unless we're at the beach or a pool, where I'm required to show off my hot bod in a bikini (thanks, diet pill that make me psychotic, and meal delivery program that ensures not only will I never again get to eat what I cook for my family, but that my daughter will soon have a terrible body image too, thus ensuring advertisers more business in the future). And, of course, I need to feed my kids only nutritious foods, but Corn Pops are OK, 'cause now they have whole grains in them.

These are just SOME of the messages received from a total of about 3 hours of TV viewing. Alone. It doesn't add in the billboards, print ads, newspaper ads, internet, or even ads on the sides of buses and cars. We are inundated with these mesages alomost 24/7. Ads have taken over our lives.
There was a recent report that said bad body image is a big factor in teen girls' suicides. (See for more.) And EVERY female I know has at least SOMEWHAT of a negative perception of her body! What the hell are we doing?!?!?!?!
We are, quite literally, killing our girls. We are supposed to be empowering them. But when women focus on all the so-called "flaws" on their bodies, and spend all their time (and money) trying to make themselves phisically "perfect," how can they possibly be empowered? When plastic surgeons tell women that breast implants will make them feel better about themselves, they should be shot.
No, wait. Death's too good for them. They should be OUT OF A JOB. Not allowed to get rich on womens' poor self-image.
The diet industry is the ONLY industry that not only has a 95% failure rate, but blames the consumer AND GETS AWAY WITH IT!!!!!! Diet didn't work? Well, YOU failed! YOU don't have enough will power! You're WEAK! But feel free to try again! (What's the definiton of insanity?)
And don't even get me started on airbrushing, photoshopping, the modelling industry, the entertainment industry, and using 15 year-olds to market anti-aging creams. What the hell is "anti-aging," anyway? Pro-death?!?!
I'm actually quite PRO-aging, myself. Sure beats the alternative!

OK. rant over. I'm exhausted! I gotta go lie down.


azusmom said...

Sorry about all the typos! I was a little worked up (she said, highlighting her keen perception of the blatantly obvious.)

Charlotte said...

Oh Alyssa! I was laughing so hard from beginning to end (and didn't notice any typos, silly) - you are SO right! About all of it. 100%. My fave part tho was how you described women having to play the madonna at PTA night and then throw on their string bikini to go to the beach. Advertisers are evil.

azusmom said...

They are!!!!! 100%, 100 Proof, EVIL!!!!!!