I hate commercials.
I suppose this has a lot to do with my general anti-consumerism (excepting shoes). My son is imprinting on it, and I realized I may have gone a touch too far when he was grumbling about corporate greed during every commercial.
But some ads really do burn my butter, since it's unfortunately no longer touted by Fabio.
There's a jeweler campaign hocking discounted diamond rings that happily announces, "Now you can afford to get engaged!"
No, now you can afford to buy a very pretty allotrope of carbon. "Affording to get engaged" has a lot more to do with being able to afford a mortgage, a crib, higher insurance rates and remodeling the space above the garage into an in-law apartment.
Maybe the jeweler means: "Now you can afford to have that special evening when someone bends a knee or gasps at a message embedded in a sports score board or chokes on the diamond ring because it went unnoticed in that glass of champagne."
We all know you didn't shell out that much for a diamond ring, discounted or not, if you hadn't already talked about getting married and probably hadn't already betrothed yourselves to each other.
That's called getting engaged. You can do that for free and a box of tissues.
I like the sparkly-sparkly, truly, provided it wasn't dug out of the earth by a one-armed child in a civil war zone. But people really can get engaged and even married without spending obscene amounts of income (or, be honest, credit) on jewelry. But there's no billboard announcing that.
The other commercials that make me want to tear out my hair are a variety of cell phone companies pushing their shared-family-circle-strength-in-numbers plans.
Generally these are family groups. You don't see a bunch of dorm mates chipping in for a group cell phone plan, or God forbid residential neighbors sharing minutes. That's communism.
No, these are chipper American capitalist family units who are invariably led by the biggest dope of a dad that ever was.
It's disappointing to see how these advertising teens treat their father -- sarcastically talking on their thumb and pinky finger as a signal to Daddy to buy phones, or rolling their eyes when he dares to question who is in their contact lists.
Yeah, that's called parenting. Go soak your head, kid.
But wireless companies must have research on the purchasing habits of their target audience -- parents who now can afford to buy phones and plans -- that shows this audience is a sniveling, spineless lot who can't stand to be ridiculed by their children and are well-practiced at buying their love and devotion.
My son has a cell phone, for which his grandparents pay in exchange for him working like a Hebrew slave at the farm. Son, if you feel the need to act all entitled and demand that an adult in your life buy you something, go try that on them. After you clean your room. Now. You can afford to do that.
The discount chain that probably is the personification of evil is mightily battling the image of warehouses filled with toothless shoppers in bathrobes buying a week's worth of frozen dinners. Some happy American capitalist families appear in the ads, but mostly the subjects are middle-class mommies who are stretching their dollar and providing for their families for less.
Noble, but there's no accounting for the cost on the employees there who don't have health insurance, or on the environment from the manufacturing of all that cheap plastic made overseas.
And to be honest, this place doesn't want us to spend less. Duh. It tries to convince us that we're getting "more" and "living better." Bologna. Even cheap bologna.
We don't need all that crap to live better. We actually need far, far less. We need less food, less clutter, less garbage because we are fat, messy, wasteful people. But that doesn't look good on a billboard either.
My all-time screaming-conniption-fit commercial is for another discount chain that gets trotted out around Christmas time.
A pre-adolescent girl and her younger brother are standing on the open staircase in their home, arms laden with boxes of decorations. They are standing frozen, their eyes wide and their jaws slack, because their dopey dad is hacking away at the tree.
I tend to faint right there. Decorating a Christmas tree is one of my favorite holiday activities, and if they would let me I would do it all year long. But I digress.
The little children, excited to do the free and joyful activity of displaying family heirloom ornaments alongside the paper cup bells and cotton ball bearded Santas they made at school, are being thwarted by their father as he removes all of the lower branches, all of the middle branches and most of the top branches.
On Christmas Eve, they are scandalized by the bare trunk with a few tufted sprigs of evergreen.
Oh, but on Christmas Day, their faith is renewed! Their joy is restored! They race down the steps to gawk not at the four light bulbs and two ornaments on the tree but at the mounds and mounds of presents piled under and around it.
Dad is standing there all proud and clever, sweeping his arm around the room as if to say, "See, see? Old dad is pretty great, isn't he? You thought he was nuts for cutting up the tree. But I was just making room for all this stuff I got at a discount chain so we could afford to celebrate Christmas."
Yes, it's fun to get presents. But it's scientifically proven that overindulging your children makes them incorrigible weenies. I suppose if you start as a weenie of a parent you are going to end up with a weenie of a kid. I mean, even Jesus got only three.
When my dad trims the Christmas tree, I watch him very carefully. He is allowed to cut off only enough to get it flush with the wall and allow for at least one person to get between it and the couch to gain entry to the living room. (I double my decorating pleasure by also doing my parents' tree.)
We learned the hard way also to anchor said tree directly to said wall with wire. One year our family tree fell over with a crash while my brother and I were on the floor playing with the presents we received, and we were devastated.
Well, we probably were terrified of getting in trouble for rough-housing and causing the tree to topple. But I swear, it just fell over on its own. We just sat there and watched in horror. The image of the silver tinsel standing straight up off the branches as the limbs came crashing down is burned onto my retinas.
Apart from the fear of punishment, which thankfully never came, Andrew and I were so very sad to see our beautiful tree in disarray. Some ornaments were crushed and could not be salvaged. It would have been better to sacrifice our new trucks and dollies; we could get more of those. We can't go back in time and get the annual bauble that marked the occasion of our births or the purchase of my mother's 18-wheeler.
So, that commercial daddy can suck it. You, sir, can buy your kids lots and lots and lots of presents. They still will grow up and leave you. They will shop at discount chains and buy their own stuff. They won't need you for anything because you missed out on the chances to create memories.
They can afford now to make their own. You are of no value.