We Interrupt this Program…

So, I was watching TV yesterday.  “When am I not?” is the question to ask. I constantly have it running in the background. Movies, as you guys know, are my thing. So I’m frequently watching AMC, TCM, or some of the other late night classic movie channels.  I also just discovered a terrific series called Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries so I will admit to some binge watching here recently (both on regular TV and Netflix).  Luckily Netflix has no commercials. Other channels?  Not so much.

So, every ten minutes or so, during whatever movie or show I’m watching, there comes a dramatic pause and there are five minutes, if not more, of commercials. Arrgghh!

Can any of you remember back in the 70s and 80s when there were two minutes or so of commercials, max, and then it was right back to the TV show or movie? For a TV series, half-hour episodes were 28 minutes long, hour-long episodes were like 55 minutes long.  Today, it seems like sit-coms are 22 minutes long (although perhaps that’s a good thing!) and the drama series are like 45 minutes at most. If you don’t believe me, just check out those same episodes on Netflix and see the actual “run-time” for yourself.

But, I can understand the need for commercials, in a way, as it costs a lot to make a good TV series these days, considering how much they have to pay the actors and how much decent special effects cost and the lovely costumes and the like. (And I do so yearn for those days, just a few short years ago, when most of the shows on TV were good dramas and sitcoms, and not this reality show crap that seems to permeate every station nowadays.  I mean, come on….who cares if Honey has a Boo Boo or whatever the heck that show is! I’m just thankful that one is not on any more.)

But I digress.

So, I was watching TV, and the show stopped and the commercials came on, and I was too comfortable to stretch out for the remote and mute the TV until the ads were over.

And the first commercial that came on was a “Messin’ with Sasquatch” one, advertising Jacks Links beef jerky. These “Messin’ with Sasquatch” commercials have been around for years and are very popular – which to me is just a sad state of affairs.

Because what is each one about? A group of “goofball Americans” sees a Sasquatch napping, or eating, and decides to “mess” with him. Sasquatch gets angry and throws the young punks around. There was one where the female instigator went headfirst into an outhouse, for example. And well, yeah, she deserved it, but still. What are those commercials really saying?  That people who see a 7-foot-tall hirsute Sasquatch are too stupid to realize that they’ve got a fortune on their hands if they simply snap a photo of the damn thing, and instead are just compelled to bully it, haze it… whatever descriptive terms you want to use…

Yet they’re popular… otherwise Jack Links wouldn’t keep making them.

(And, as an aside, I find them less annoying than Jack Links’ other commercial slogan, “Feed your wild side,” with a wild animal coming out of a person’s chest to eat a piece of beef jerky ala Alien).

Commercials, for the most part, used to be for somewhat intelligent people, right?  I mean at least they weren’t for idiots.

How did we go from Santa racing through a snow-covered village on a Norelco sled, which was some pretty damn clever advertising, to a fungus-infected-toenail playing football?? I mean, please, please, please can someone answer that question??

I suppose commercials throughout the decades have always oscillated between the really cute and intelligent ones, and the ones that are so offensive that you feel stupider after watching them for 30 seconds.

Now, the commercials from the 1950s could be sexist, of course. Heck, from the 1950s right up until the 1970s. Both print and t.v. ads were filled with “helpful” advice for housewives on how to be better… well, wives. Since that’s pretty much all they were good for.

But those were sexist times.  Today, you’d think commercials would have evolved, but they really haven’t. Sex sells. As we all well know. So the ads have unfortunately gone downhill in that regard. But as for the gender stereotypes, now it just seems the extreme is on the other foot.

In the past it was the woman who was the homemaker and the man who knew best. Today, it’s the kids who know best, the mom who is almost as intelligent as the kids, and the dad who is totally clueless. And even if there are no kids in the commercial and it’s between boyfriend and girlfriend or husband and wife, it’s the wife who is intelligent and knows what she wants, and the husband who is dumber than a box of rocks.  That’s really just as bad a stereotype as the other way around.

Oh, there are still some cute ones that have a point, a moral if you will. Like the Budweiser commercials during the Super Bowl where the Clydesdales found another four-legged friend.  Love conquers all. Not surprisingly, I love these!

But do we really want the image that the latest commercial slogan “Go Cottonelle and Go Commando” conjures up floating around in our heads? I mean really!? All I think of when I see this commercial are the people who buy the bargain basement brand.  Just…ewww.

Then there are the commercials that take a more subtle approach. They tell a little story and you don’t even know what product they’re trying to sell until the very end. Those are the kinds of ads I can get behind. Oh sure, I know it’s subliminal advertising, but I don’t care. It makes the 3 to 5 minutes in-between my shows a bit more interesting and I like that.  It’s like a show within a show.

So, I have to wonder, what are advertisers thinking when they put certain commercials on the air.  Do they really think people are so stupid as to buy things because stupid people in stupid commercials extol their virtues in some stupid way? If they do think that, I have to say I seriously hope that they’re wrong. I mean, what does that say about society and people today?

I’d like to do without commercials altogether. (Yeah, like that’s going to happen, I know!)  But if we MUST have them, for goodness sake at least make them interesting and somewhat intelligent, or at the least cute or clever. Please.  Is that really too much to ask?

8 thoughts on “We Interrupt this Program…

  1. We probably only see the best ones from Britain, but those are so good I would go to a show that is only commercials knowing I would come out educated as well as entertained. For now I don’t have television reception and find I don’t miss much at all. ..except maybe an occasional PBS series. Oh and an occasional crossword clue that refers to a TV show.

  2. You didn’t mention any Liberty Mutual commercials, nor any of the plethora of car commercials constantly trying to cajole viewers to finance their latest models …or of the virtues of “taking advantage of” the “year-end close-out” on their last year’s models.

  3. Sadly, I watched the entire clip you posted containing the collection of Messin’ with Sasquatch ads – and laughed several times. I guess I don’t expect a whole lot from commercials, so anything that doesn’t leave me disgusted or irritated is welcome.

  4. What I find fascinating is how in some cases a given commercial can have different edits. It’s not uncommon for a major ad (like from a car company) to have both a short (30 sec) & a long (60 sec) version. But for some ads, particularly those with a risqué component, there is often a “family” version.

    For example, the Carl’s Jr ad with the extremely well endowed young lady walking through the farmer’s market, with very strategically placed melons & water sprays to hide all of the “naughty bits” (sorry, but they did this in an opening sequence of one of the Austin Powers movies also). In the original version, there is every suggestion that she’s strolling in her birthday suit. But in the “family” version, it’s quite clear that she’s wearing a bikini – the straps are as obvious as they are absent in the original version.

    They’re messing with our heads, I tell you!

    • Of course they are! It’s all very subliminal and strategic marketing. That’s why I don’t understand some of the commercials that seem so deliberately stupid. Do they want us to remember their commercials because they’re stupid? At least then we’re remembering their brand? Maybe that IS the point.

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