Of Advertising and Infomercials

I can safely say that I am an enemy of advertising. In the war against advertising I would enlist on the first day. My general distaste for advertising lends me well to my job too, which is network abuse for a large ISP. That means that 99.9% of the work that I do is fighting spam, the most evil form of advertising that has ever existed. Now as a warrior against the almighty ad, even i fall victim from time to time. The occasional commercial or shot of cleavage will get me to buy something based on the ad, although mainly because I would normally buy the brand of product that is easiest for me to pick up off the shelf. When it comes down to it though, I hate advertising. I hate TV commercials, I hate spam, I hate telemarketers with a passion, I hate spam, I hate billboards, I hate bench ads, I hate spam, I hate magazine ads, and I really really really hate infomercials.

Before delving into the world of the infomercial, we must be familiar with what came first. A long time ago, shortly after the gates of hell opened, the sandwich sign & bell started appearing. The concept was simple, you wear the sign, you ring the bell. People are annoyed by the bell and want to kill you but they see the sign on their way to do so. The bell later went on to form another annoying combo, The Guy in the Santa Suit Outside the Grocery Store.

After the sandwich sign, billboards, bench ads, and other publicly viewable stationary pictures of things to buy spewed forth from our friends in The Pit. This was quickly followed up by both the magazine ad and the comic book ad. All stationary, all in the way of otherwise good things like: the rest of your magazine, the rest of your comic book, the sky, and the back of the bench.

Then came the television (yes, in the version of history that I am telling, where advertising comes from hell, TV is before the telephone). With the television came moving ads with sound. Interrupting your precious viewing time with jingles, dancing images, and harsh bright light which broke through the otherwise calm night time tv landscape. A common and spite-garnering trick of commercials is to have a volume that is anywhere from 10 to 500 times louder than the program you were watching, causing your ears to bleed and your dog to die. Let's not forget also that cable used to be commercial-free, yet somehow they've crept in there as well. Television commercials, which seem to have crawled, clawed, and slithered from only the darkest dankest pits of the underworld do have their moments of grace though. Every once in a while a good one seeps out and people then copy it for decades afterwards. Priceless.

Of course, not long after television ads spoiled cable television, telemarketing's shadow darkened the land. This is the truly evil stuff here. Where a bench ad's annoyance is like a campfire, telemarketing is a star. The calls only come in at times when they couldn't be less welcome. This includes, when I used to sleep in the morning because I worked the late shift, when I'm on the phone long distance, when I come home for lunch, and pretty much any other time whatsoever since I hate them so much. Of course, the one time I thought maybe I would like to have the newspaper and then later found out I didn't want it anymore, they would not let me cancel. I called and cancelled, then I stopped paying, then they asked me if I wanted to cancel and I said yes. The paper kept coming. It took three times of not paying and getting a call asking why I stopped for them to take the hint that "yes I want to cancel your paper" actually meant stop sending it.

Finally, the infomercial emerged. Although it should be seen as a black mark on the timeline of human history, informercials are still alive and well today. They soak up nearly every channel on television for up to 6 hours a day. Most infomercials feature bad on-screen effects like star-wipes and blue background screens telling you to call in the next ten minutes. They also normally feature one or two washed up middle-aged actresses who will undoubtedly go completely apeshit that you got a stain out of some shirt or you can squeeze some weird thing with your thighs. Infomercials take the original annoyingness of an amatuer commercial and then stretch it from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. If you've sinned, this time sometimes shoots up to an hour or even 90 minutes.

I really dislike infomercials. I also hate that there seems to be some sort of infomercial community. That guy who makes cleaner out of orange peels or something, he shows up everywhere. You'll catch a thighmaster or stair stepper or butt blaster ad and he'll barge in from offstage, spraying orange cleaner on everything in sight. Where infomercials really become a crime however, is falling asleep in front of the television. On a slow Friday or even a slow Saturday, I'll relax in front of the TV with something to drink or eat, and lay myself down for some series of documentaries on the History Channel. I'll watch one or two and eventually sleep will catch up with me. But what has happened on many many occasions is at about 4:00 AM, I'll wake up and the TV is still going strong, trying to sell me some tax software or pool cleaner. They always wake me up, I never get a good night's sleep with an infomercial blaring on the TV. Sometimes, they even invade my dreams.

I had fallen asleep in front of the television one night, probably after a drink (or four). I was making my journey through dreamland when I realized that my dream had started to curve towards trying to sell me some home exercise device. I was literally having a commercial in my dream. Without even completely waking up I jumped up off the couch and screamed out: "NO MORE INFOMERCIALS!" and fumbled for the remote. At this point, the volume of my own yelling had woken me up to the point where I could see what was going on. I turned off the television and grumpily went into the bedroom to continue my sleep.

So as you can see, the less advertising that I am witness to, the happier I am. I understand why it's there and I realize that it's probably never going away, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Hopefully I can find a way to block ads by the time they are piping them directly into our brains.