2017
two thousand seventeen
Twenty-Seventeen
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OUT OF MY HEAD
By John Addyman
  
   It was a great holiday weekend.
   For a football fan, it was almost heaven.
   I watched, I figure, about 600 plays this weekend…but I also watched about 900 commercials.
   The results on the football end were not so good.


   My wife went to Penn State.
   The Nittany Lions lost.
   I was born in Wisconsin.
   The Badgers got field-dressed.
   My wife and I move here from Connecticut.
   The Huskies were sent to the pound…and their coach went to Maryland two days later.
   We’re originally from the Philadelphia area.
   The Eagles found a way to lose to the hated Cowboys in the last minute.
   And for those of you who are Bills and Giants fans, my condolences. But really – what did you expect?
   Yes, there was lots of football last weekend.
   But the real winners were the commercials. Based on who was spending money on TV advertising, it’s easy to see who’s doing well in this economy.
   If you watched as much football as I did this weekend, you also watched a year’s quota of Toyotathon commercials, where people who hadn’t seen each other for decades were meeting by chance in front of a Camry or a Corolla. Frankly, if I don’t see those folks for another decade, that will be fine.
   And you know that if you see a red bow in your sleep – there’s a Lexus underneath it.
   If you heard “Up on the Rooftop” a hundred times this weekend, sung by that goofy duo, you’ve probably got “Hyundai” imprinted on your brain somewhere…maybe that was the point. Mercifully, no one spent the weekend telling me how “huge” everything was. Somehow, I picked the right channels.
   Yes, there were occasional Ford and Chevy commercials…and the odd Dodge commercial: and “odd” is the right adjective for the approach Dodge is using to sell cars…that’s what those ads featuring Challengers charging Redcoats and Hessians are supposed to do, isn’t it?  
   But Toyota and Hyundai ruled the airwaves.
   My 92-year-old father-in-law watched football all day Saturday with me. He may not remember a lot of things like he used to, but he’s still pretty sharp in his own way.
   “Will you please out and buy a Toyota?” he asked me, “so maybe they’ll stop running these damn commercials?”
   The pharmaceutical companies did okay, too. You couldn’t escape ads for Cialis and Lipitor – one drug is to help guys get their engines revving, and the other is to make sure they don’t go into vapor lock once they’ve hit 5,000 rpm. And if someone could explain the two-bathtub thing in the Cialis ads to me, I’d be grateful.
   Car-insurance companies certainly take up time on the tube, too.  Maybe we could arrange a survival-of-the-fittest, reality-TV extravaganza to eliminate three of the four commercials by putting Progressive’s lady salesperson Flo (Stephanie Courtney), Geico’s gecko, Allstate’s Dennis Haysbert and State Farm’s Eddie Matos all together in the ring in an ultimate fighting pay-per-view special. They could slug it out for the right to bother us, winner take all.
   This is all just too much. As a communications medium, television is going to the dogs.
   On May 9, 1961, Newton Minnow, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, excoriated the television industry. In a speech before the National Association of Broadcasters, he said: “When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.”
   And this was 20 years before cable… almost 40 years before our latest New Year’s Day football extravaganza. And Time-Warner is going to charge us more for the privilege of having our brains numbed by all the crappy programming on cable, laced with too many commercials and infomercials. Why do I have to pay the cable company to send me infomercials and QVC? Why won’t the FCC allow us to delete all the junk we get on cable and just get charged for what we actually want to watch? 
   Television networks and cable operators have to do better than what they’re giving us now. The NFL playoffs are on tap this weekend, and I’m afraid I’m going to get bombarded with another 900 commercials…I love to watch football that much…but my interest is waning.

   

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