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This place matters

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cancer schmancer

Jeremy told me that the reason all of the new TV shows start in the fall is that back in the early days, big television shows were sponsored by car companies, and car companies revealed their new lines in the fall. Nowadays, there's no reason for shows to begin in the fall, other than the fact that that's what people expect.
Advertising sponsors are responsible for the name of an entire genre. As I told you in this post, Variety, the show biz trade magazine, has been responsible for coining a surprising number of terms, including soap opera. Variety first used the term to apply to daytime radio dramas. At some point in the olden days, some soap advertising genius came up with the idea to sponsor shows geared exclusively toward women and run them during the day for the benefit of the housewives. Since the folk listening to these shows basically cleaned for a living, they were the perfect audience for soap commercials.

When I got my current job, it was the first during which I worked any kind of traditional schedule, and I was pretty surprised to discover that we nine-to-fivers get a whole different set of commercials. During the day, when I used to watch TV, the commercials were mostly for cash til payday loan places, workman's comp lawyers, and services that will get your phone turned back on after it's been shut off for non-payment. Advertisers had figured out that the folks home during the day weren't housewives anymore. People who work non-traditional hours make less money, or are unemployed, or are unable to work. Also, there were a lot more commercials for Enzyte, the supplement for "natural male enhancement." Apparently people who don't work during the day are also more concerned about the size of their wee wees. Or maybe advertisers surmise that people who don't work during the day are probably less educated, and therefore aren't capable of recognizing a crock when they see one. 
BTW, another place where you see a lot of commercials for natural male enhancement? G4 - the network for us geek types. Sorry, boys, it's not the performance that's keeping you single, it's the fact that you still live with Mom and haven't showered since the Bush administration. (I figure it's okay for me to make this offensive generalization because I'm a geek too - sort of like how it's okay for brown-skinned people to say the n-word).
As I mentioned in another post, night people get a whole other set of commercials, the cruelest of which are the ones for products that those advertisers know full well don't actually relieve pain. Magnets. Copper. Shoe inserts. Vitamins. I tell you what, when you're up all night with pain, pacing in front of the television because it hurts too much to even lay still; you start to want so badly to believe that one of these stupid things might help that three easy payments of $29.95 starts to seem like a damn good price for something you're more than smart enough to know is a crock.
The worst by far of these snake oil salesmen is Kevin Trudeau, the unrepentant felon who hocks the Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About books. In the books, he claims that the FDA and drug companies are members of a great conspiracy to convince you that drugs can keep you alive. Instead of using drugs proved effective by the FDA, you should subscribe to his highly overpriced Web site that can get you in touch with all your snake oil needs. He's been taken to court over his patently false and disproved claims, which he sites as proof of the evilness of the conspiracy. Courts have prevented him from selling the products about which his books and Web site make false claims, but free speech gives him the right to continue selling the books. Fraud's not free speech. Just saying.
Not that big pharma's not evil, not that the FDA does enough to protect us from dangerous products, not that the whole system isn't set up to let big phrama screw us. It's just that you shouldn't stop taking your cancer meds because a charismatic fraud felon overcharges you for a book that tells you that you should. It's a little bit like shouting fire in a crowded theater, IMO.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The ACLU thinks fraud is free speech.

http://www.theacru.org/acru/aclu_academic_fraud_is_free_speech/

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