Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things that annoy me... Commercial edition

As I was rubbing the sleep out of my eyes this morning while waking up to the friendly, intelligent banter of the Squawk Box crew, my predawn groove was jolted like someone dragging the needle across an LP. For those of you who don't know what an LP is, or what happens when you drag a needle across one, look it up Junior.

What could spoil my morning visit from Joe, Becky and Carl, with weather by super-hottie meteorologist Britta Merwin? (Yeah baby, she was a cheerleader in college.) It was the commercials, the commercials made me do it, officer.

I've heard many complaints lately about Toyota's "Saved by Zero" ads, which indeed are enough to begin chipping away at the fragile edges of anyone's sanity. But today there were three ads, run within about five minutes of one another, that grated on my inner ear.

The first one was for that lovely little product you can use to soak up excess moisture anywhere: Shamwow!. Even the name annoys me. And the stupid-ass telephone operator headset the jackass selling them is wearing. Is there really any reason to get so excited about a glorified washcloth? I think not.

Second, "Billy Mays here..." Anything Mr. Mays is selling you can be sure I won't be buying, even if he left the screen and took a Black&Decker loaded with 1/4-inch drill bit to my kneecaps.

Today's example was Mighty Mendit. Apparently, even though it sticks shit together, it isn't a glue. It's "a flexible bonding agent that grabs, adheres and interlocks the fibers of virtually any fabric for a permanent repair." According to Webster's, a glue is "any of various strong adhesive substances." Hmmmmm, Mighty Mendit sounds like a glue to me.

The last and final product placement driving a nail through my skull this morning was for something called Zoombak. The commercial's not that bad, it's the concept of the product that makes me as uneasy as a virgin at a Tailhook convention.

For those of you who don't know what Zoombak is, it is a small transmitter you can hook to your dog's collar, or plant in your teenager's car. The system works by combining GPS and cell tower signals and lets you keep track of your dog...or your teen.

I got no problem with keeping track of your dog, it's the whole LoJacking of children I've got a problem with. Take, for instance, this "testimonial" from the company's Web site:
Karen S. — Spring Hill, FL-- I let my son use the car and he was going to a friend’s house. I checked his location (he doesn't know about the tracker, it’s hidden in the dashboard) and saw that he was miles away. I called him and he stated he was studying and would be home in a couple hours. I had my husband drive to his location and found him at a party -- was he surprised to see us at the door! He is still trying to figure out how we found him.

Holy! Crap! Batman!

Yet another wonderful example of helicopter parenting. How the hell is your child ever going to learn to survive in the big, bad world with mom and dad hovering over their shoulder every waking and sleeping moment? If you have such a complete lack of trust in your child, well, that's a symptom of a much larger problem I think.

As much as Karen S. wants to believe Junior doesn't know how he was discovered, he's probably figured it out already. Kids are a lot smarter than mom and dad give them credit for. And probably a lot smarter than mom and dad.

Reminds me of when my family first got cable back in the Stone Age. The thing that sold my mom on having it installed was the safety of the "lock box," allowing her to deny my brothers and I access to the evils of HBO while she and my dad were out for the evening. The first time they went out it took a 12- 11-, and 9-year-old about 15 seconds to figure out that if we just unscrewed the cable from the box and put it right into the TV we could watch all the R movies we wanted.

My guess is Junior's either wrapped the his parents' carefully hidden leash in a couple layers of tin foil (shiny side in, of course), cut off it's power supply (it only lasts five days without a charge) or yanked it from the car entirely.

"Don't know what happened mom. Wow, someone must have broken into the car. Incidentally, why were you tracking me?" Nervous silence. "Thanks a lot. I though you said you trust me. I wish I'd never been born..." and so on and so forth.

Don't get me wrong, parents have every right to be concerned about their kids. I know my niece, who just started driving, probably scares the hell out of my sister. I know that someday, when the first boy comes to pick up my best friend's daughter for a date there he'll be, cleaning his shotgun and pistol at the kitchen table while he chats with the boy. And God protect the first boys sniffing around my brothers' daughters.

As a wise man once said, daughters are God's revenge for being born a man. And while Sam Colt made all men equal, some of us are a lot more equal than others.

I would much rather have my child know they can call me at 3 a.m. to say they've been drinking (or other stupid things) or are in jail even, knowing there'll be no immediate repercussions. The next day there might be some consequences, but that's a lot better than the scary alternatives.

Parent's are there to catch you when you fall (I know mine were), but the landing is a lot softer when it's cushioned by trust.


LiLu said...

Awwww, so true!

That said, I'm totally reading my kid's diary. If only for the entertainment of it all.



FoggyDew said...

That's assuming we'll be smart enough to crack the 2,048-bit encryption that will come with the kid-level inplantable computers they little ankle biters will be using.

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