Eight Thing in Capitalist America That Don’t Make Very Much Sense
A Ranting Excuse to Talk About An Odd Culture
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I’m driving home from work, again, and I force myself to turn the radio off. Sure, they just played a jammin’ tune by the Chili Peppers, but my enjoyment of that is cast in the sickly shadow of the DJ announcing yet another commercial break. I try to endure, but I cannot bear it. It takes exactly three advertisements before I make my decision to cut the power. The first is “a public service announcement” for those suffering from student debt. It is quite clearly cut and paste. It is also quite clearly not a PSA, but an advertisement. I cringe. The voice work sounds like it was keyed in on a robotic text-to-speech program. Even the general location to which the ad applies (in this case, “the Myrtle Beach area”) has been spliced in, indicating that the very same ad likely plays in other locations with little more needed than a quick cut and paste of the robot voice.
Ignore it, I think. The music will be back soon. Experience tells me I likely have a twenty minute wait until anything remotely close to music comes back through my speakers (radio jingles DO NOT count).
Next is a commercial for the lottery. Powerball. The bright voice of the woman speaking is surrounded by some type of “whooshing” sound effect. For a moment, I can’t tell if its an ad for gambling or a THX sound test at the start of a film. With my stereo acoustically magnifying everything, I have to remind myself that its probably not a half dozen fighter jets swooping around the car. I can barely focus on what the energetic woman is saying about the odds and the jackpot, because the sound effects are nothing short of alien-abduction-quality creepy. As penetrating to my ears and brain as an alien probe might be to…well, nevermind that. No matter, I’ve no time to think much on it because, there, on the other side of this shit-sandwich of commercialism, is the next advert: “a public service announcement” (advertisement) for, of all things, tax debt.
But wait! Its the EXACT SAME AD as the student debt ad. Exact same cut-and-paste for “the Myrtle Beach area.” Only difference is the bit about “students” has been mechanically replaced by a pre-recorded bit about “tax levies, tax liens, and bankruptcy.” It even maintains an exact replica of a phrase in the student debt ad: “take down this number, put it in your cell phone, BUT CALL.” For a split second I imagine the silliness of someone being so riveted by this ad during their commute that, ignoring traffic, whips out their cell phone in complete defiance of safety and begins hacking in the phone number in rapt desperation.
I cut the power. It occurs to me that no talent whatsoever has gone into this particular round of enterprise. It was designed by a twelve-year-old who loves Transformers. My stomach feels sick. If these things were meant to get me to do anything other than turn off the radio, the meaning has escaped me. I worry about the other listeners. I worry that they have arrived at a different conclusion by some psychotic chaos of the Heavens.
By the time I’ve pulled into my driveway, my thoughts have turned to just how often this exact feeling has wrapped coldly up my spine. The sense of confusion. The distaste. The wondrous amazement of a culture completely surrounded by mountains of its own nonsense that, daily, enthusiastically guzzles down the sickly heap of it all by the bucket-full.
I decided to make a list. Maybe it will clear my head. Here’s eight things in our silly society that, somehow, we’ve decided are alright. For maximum impact, I’ve listed them in increasing levels of stupidity.
(next up, part two: “How News Reporters Talk)