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Western world worries

Steve Campbell

I am a regular human being. I am not ‘normal’ as we have previously established, but average. I do what Canadians do. I get up. I shower, I dress, I look to see if I need to shave, or should just try the Don Johnson ‘Miami Vice’ studly look. This usually wins out, because I’m lazy, and just woke up, so could accidentally kill myself with a razor.
Like most Canadians I work all day, and then come home, pour a glass of rum and coke, and then three more, and write a column. This might not apply to all of us. But usually, I relax with a drink and watch TV, and enjoy the bliss of not thinking about work. I’ve seen so many reruns of NCIS Los Angeles that I can recite their lines as they speak them. Doesn’t matter. It’s an escape.
In between my favorite shows, there are a lot of commercials. I use these interludes to pour myself another rum and coke, and take a trip to the loo. Sometimes my drink is nicely iced-up, and my bladder is not sending alarm bells to my brain, so I watch the commercials.
I live a pretty simple life. I own a bottle of window cleaner, some soap, a bottle of dishwater detergent and, for some reason, four jugs of vinegar and the giant jar of olives that came with the fridge. And some dill pickles. I love those.
Living alone, I quickly realized that there are terrific cleaning agents out there, and they are: vinegar. Thankfully I have four jugs of it. I don’t want to deter you from buying super-powered, highly-concentrated Dawn® dishwashing detergent, because it smells great and does a good job. And your dishes don’t end up smelling like french fries. That’s a bonus too.
But when I watch the TV commercials, I’m puzzled that Dawn® has 10 TIMES THE CLEANING POWER of other detergents. This is a claim I don’t think can be substantiated. What lab is out there figuring out the percentage of cleaning power vs. ‘other’ cleaning products? And what are these other products which are instrumental in the lab test? Water? Urine? Spit? I suspect that anything with a single drop of detergent would be better than washing your dishes in your own urine.
So this got me thinking. And when I think, I don’t just think. I put NCIS Los Angeles on mute, and just mouth their dialogue, while waiting for the commercials. This is not insane, right? But I needed to study this.

Gotta love Canadians
Yeah, we don’t believe anything the government tells us, we see conspiracy plots everywhere. We believe that our phone calls are monitored by CSIS, and our emails and, according to a particularly paranoid friend of mine – they monitor your Air Miles card to see how much money you spend at the LCBO. Fortunately, LCBO dumped Air Miles for Aeroplan. I didn’t get one because 1) I have no idea what they are; 2) I have never, ever been able to collect on a ‘bonus card’. LCBO dropped Air Miles. There goes my air flight to Milford. Canadian Tire eliminated theirs; Best Buy’s preferred customer card disappeared when I was buying $400 of computer equipment: “Oh, we don’t do that anymore.” I have no idea what these do, but haven’t seen a dime from any of them. I have invisible points out there, floating in the universe, and never claimed a one of them. Be free, my points, we will not likely ever meet again.

And this brings me to my point
We are all dupes. Yes, the economy needs to move, but the only winners are the large corporations. For example: How many ways can toilet paper be toilet paper? I mean really. Consider its use. Unless you’re in one of the County’s washrooms, or in a Port-A-Potty, it’s really just toilet paper. It’s not like a fine wine tasting: “Oh, this has a nice lavender scent, and perhaps some rose hints, but the fabric is a little too course for my delicate bottom.”
C’mon, do you think anyone else in the world would have a problem like this? Get a hold of yourselves. You don’t ‘need’ every product you are told – repeatedly – to buy.
I see they have maximized the Big Mac® into a gut-busting, cardiac-arresting new super-burger. I’m not sure how many people were out there saying, “Wow! If there were only one more layer of burger, this would be perfect.”
By the same token, I saw an ad for Bounce® wrinkle-free. Throw it in the dryer and your clothes come out wrinkle-free. Who wouldn’t want that? Me for one. I’ll go out with wrinkles because this is a stupid western world way of spending money, only because we have money to spend. No other reason.
TV ads show the shame in having a wrinkled shirt. Bet you don’t want to be that loser. Other ads do the same: Shaming you because you are not perfect, and pretending they can make you so. Being ‘not normal’ I see this as a useless pursuit for social acceptance. Not that everyone runs out and buys jeans from Old Navy®, even if they can’t dance like crazy to a strange musical backup, and might have the kind of body which might fit in one of those pants.
I could cite numerous examples of unusual behaviour in ads, but my favorite is the two Viagra ads, in which the guy loudly announces to everyone in a crowded room that he wants REAL Viagra, damn you, which is only a little more expensive. Surprisingly, the ‘extras’ in each of the clips show signs of obvious disgust while the man is shouting into his phone (the recipient was apparently hard of hearing). To me, that was real. I felt the same disgust as the actors. I don’t know what the advertisers had in mind, but I will never take real Viagra again. Not that I did. I once asked for Preparation H, but I didn’t shout it out to everyone in the pharmacy. That’s just rude. And if I used Viagra, I would not be eager to shout out my erectile disfunction to a room of trapped listeners. It would be equally inappropriate to talk about anal inflammations.

Step Back
We live in the most comfortable part of the world currently in existence. We have problems, but most of our problems would be laughable in other countries. We have problems with plumbing, when many places have none. We have car troubles, when others don’t own cars. Western problems. We are dependent on all our devices. Power goes out? We’re done. Do we see the consequences of this? Without all that input/output, we are helpless.
We don’t see what we have. Myself, I need heat and Cashmere toilet paper. That’s about it. Some of you want a Downy® fabric softener which will make you ‘calm’ or ‘exhilarated’ or ‘horribly depressed’. (I don’t think they’ve made that one yet.)
We, in our world are all about us, meaning you. There is only one reason why you have 25 spray bottles of cleaners in your home. It’s because you don’t have a jug of vinegar. Note that white vinegar is best, but if you are an ‘upscale’ thinker, you can also use apple cider (for medium-scale people) or red-wine for those of you who can’t bear the thought of regular vinegar. I’m sure there’s a 40-year-old French distilled vinegar, because your windows deserve it.
Suckers like us are a boon to the economy. Buying things we don’t need, based on claims which are invented, and never met … money better spent to help the homeless. They don’t know what Windex® is.

  • Steve Campbell is editor and publisher of County Magazine, and the author of several books, including The County Handbook: How to Survive in Prince Edward County.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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