Your RDA of Irony

Ad Nauseam

Once scientists have fully calculated the dimensions of a quark, they should turn their studies to the truly infinitesimal: the consumer’s attention span.  Through repeated exposure to television, the public has developed immunity to commercials.  Our primitive ancestors might have fled the room during the ads, but we higher beings can simply shut down our senses during the commercial break.  A yogi would envy our metaphysical mastery of oblivion.  However, Madison Avenue does not.  Our willed narcolepsy is threatening the livelihood and country club memberships of thousands of ad men called “Bud.”

Desperate for our attention, advertising actually has attempted to earn it.  Remember the old ads where implausibly attractive housewives were engrossed in stupefying conversations about detergents?  Today, however, we might see animated polar bears in a parody of Tennessee Williams.  The creativity of these commercials is genuinely impressive; but amidst the pyrotechnics and choreography we can’t quite figure out what the sponsored product is. 

So advertising now has immersed itself in camouflage.  Ads no longer interrupt the television show; they are intertwined and integrated into it.  Jed Clampett would no longer just be eating a mess of possum vittles.  He would be proclaiming his favorite brand of possum vittles.  (I believe that it is Encore.)  And Buffy the Vampire Slayer would be buying her stakes at Home Depot.

Some people keep count of the corpses on The Sopranos.  I keep a tally of the equally criminal examples of product placement.  For example, Tony cannot simply give his wife a watch.  The gift has to be accompanied by conspicuous and repeated reference to the watch’s designer.  Indeed, when pronouncing “Baume & Mercier,” Carmela’s enunciation suddenly seems more Sorbonne than Secaucus.  On last night’s episode, Tony knocked out the teeth of a disrespectful colleague; I was a little disappointed not to hear a subsequent recommendation for Poligrip.

I imagine that product placement will even infiltrate the news.  Of course, I would rather see Shrek than Dick Cheney on Meet the Press.

  1. Tom Kelso says:

    And you could tell the difference how, exactly?

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