I just want you all to know that I live a very rich life in between drunk dialing Pizza Hut at 10 pm and eating stuffed crusts while I cry myself to sleep. And one part of that richness, is watching bizarre half channels on my old person TV antenna that I purchased for $15 at RadioShack before that closed down. (*)
With all of the marathons of Frasier and The Nanny available daily, I never have to leave the apartment again. I’ve taken to MeTV, thisTV, Antenna TV, and Cozi TV like a fish that doesn’t want to leave the comfort of her home because of social anxiety and laziness. I’ve found a deep love for endless Sundays spent watching In the Heat of the Night and Cagney & Lacey, and the entire block of programming found on Decades (tonight it will include a solid four hour block of the Bob Newart show, which I’ll watch before switching over to Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In and ending the evening watching Dick Cavett be such a card).
The additional benefit of watching antenna TV – both my antiquated antenna-ness of it all, and the actual programming itself – is the targeted advertising. My television believes that I am a senior between the ages of 65 to question mark. And because of TV’s belief, I have gained so much insight into worlds that were previously closed off to me – particularly the heinous tactics of targeted advertising for that demographic. For example, because of this advertising I now know a lot more about the Shingles virus. Shingles is like unsexy herpes for the elderly but all over their bodies and not just their mouth parts and nasties.
Also, a lot of stuff about Type 2 Diabetes (I don’t know why I’m capitalizing these illnesses and ailments, other than it’s how they’re emphasized on antenna TV). But Type 2 Diabetes isn’t as SWOL as Shingles, so I usually just tune out during those ‘uns. However, it appears that if I get old, according to the medication commercials, I won’t be able to avoid it so Imma put a pin Type 2. Though, according to the numerous pharmaceutical commercials, medication that appears to cost kind of a lot is the only way to manage this.
[I am not putting photos of either examples in here because the image searches made me upset]
One the better targeted marketing campaigns I am regularly exposed to is the gorgeous and resplendent actuality of walk-in tubs. Everyone knows what these jawns are, right? They are, honestly, fucking amazing: they’re therapeutic and safety-providing sit-down bathtubs, which offer comfortable bathing solutions to their owners. [SIDE NOTE: IT’S FUCKING OUTRAGEOUS THAT MEDICARE AND MEDICAID OFTEN DON’T COVER THE COST OF THESE, AND THAT THESE SHOULD BE MORE AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE FOR THOSE THAT NEED THEM].
There is no reason for me to have a walk-in tub, as the only therapeutic necessity this tub would provide me is the ability to drink my shower beers and wallow in existential dread while Randy Newman’s Baltimore plays outside the tub and I suppurate self-pitying tears on any given Thursday.
Yet, still I crave – selfishly. I want them so much that I regularly Google-search price points, as though I could place one over the claw toothed crumble that sits in my asbestos bathroom where I indulge in being the garbage bathtub witch of your swampy dreams.
So much, so, that this arrived in my email the other day:
And it lead me on a pictorial adventure, which I will share here:
I would like to repeat: these should be a more viable and affordable option for people that actually need them (and not self-indulgent narcissists on the internet).
The sort of wild thing about the marketing on these shows is how manipulative and corrosive they become. The fear tactics and inevitability of the necessity of a lot of these items is super duper rooted in greed feeding upon the guilt and distress of their potential consumer. Because most capitalistic tactics are gross, here is one of the most outrageous examples of marketing on antenna TV:
While I might dodge a diabetes bullet (see earlier in this post), what is unavoidable is death. TV commercials have taught me that. And I would be greatly remiss to not get into the magic and the majesty of a commercial that was so outlandish I couldn’t be sure that I hadn’t hallucinated it while horking on a swisher. It’s called, “I’m dead now what,”
and it’s all about an end-of-life binder and it’s hosted by fucking Anson Williams (Potsie of Happy Days).
A wikipedia hole and an entire day after watching the above, I learned that death binders are not a modern concept created by Potsie and affiliates. This metal as fuck model has been around for hella time. It actually has a couple of different names (the concept not the aforementioned specific product): the everything binder, the family emergency binder, the legacy binder. Essentially, it’s a three-hole trapperkeeper (like you carried in grade school if you’re old as hell like me, only with less Lisa Frank designs…or the same, you be you) that carries all relevant information regarding how you’d like your loved ones to handle your funeral and end-of-life plans.
The larger, and honestly pretty good idea, is that if you’re well prepared for your own death it will eliminate the stress your family and loved ones will face upon your expiration. Like step-by-step financial guides and what music should be played while you’re getting jettisoned into the ether.
I even found a “Create Your Own Death Binder,” website that I entertained for a day before that started to get realllllll weird and reallllllll irrelevant since I have no finances to take care of and all my friends know my final wishes: that Naughty by Nature’s “Jamboree” is played at my funeral.
Back to Anson Williams and “I’m dead now what,” which is backed by easily the strangest spokesperson that if someone said this was a play written by Mamet, I’d be, like, “Oh yeah, that checks out and makes a lot more sense than this bizarre reality.”
The main pitch is, “The peace of mind planner created to protect your family’s future,” and it’s only $19.99 plus bonus internet address (don’t know what that means) and password log book. I want to draw your attention back to the fact that it is twenty bucks for a binder and, what I think is, an online chat room.
All of this is sort of supplemental to the marketing of this product (matter-of-fact, this whole post, is in fact to one degree or another about the predatory nature of marketing and how advertisers manipulate people who watch these programs, only it’s far more insidious on television that’s entirely free). Because when doing research on the above product, I found this real crowd pleaser: the marketer of this folder commercial hosted by an actor who clearly had to face himself in the mirror and say, “they picked me because of the fragility of my future mortality,” is that Top Dog (yes, that’s the marketer’s name) is not afraid to really diversify their portfolio, as “I’m dead now what?” is only one of the very ambitious products they market. They also market problem solvers called BeActive, inappropriate and insane novelties called Tiny Tyrants (it’s doll versions of dictators in case you want to feel really fucked up and gross about yourself), Catholic memorabilia (Visitation Cross), and – of course – sex toys: One Massager.
Which leads me to wonder, what kind of television channels do I need to see those commercials? Because I’m interested.
* A quick internet search just actually confirmed that RadioShack has not entirely closed its electronic sliding doors – just the one in West Philadelphia. I know nothing, Jon Snow.