Holiday TV ads irritate many people – all those perfect families, eating perfect food after giving one another diamond rings and IPads. My mind perversely calls up its picture of the Christmas I spent on C Ward of the Oklahoma State Mental Hospital. Those of you have been reading my blog for awhile, or who know me, will assume that I was there as a patient – well ha ha! I worked there. I was a psych aide. We had a plastic Christmas tree with all soft plastic ornaments hanging from the high ceiling above. Granny Gannon, whose claim to fame was that she could curse for 20 minutes without repeating herself, walked up and down the long gray ward, muttering imprecations. Nancy, a trusty who, some 30 years ago, had run over her husband with a tractor, also trudged up and down the hall on her endless rounds of mopping. Other folks moaned, yelled, or stared listlessly at the TV set anchored high above us.
I wouldn’t mind the ads so much if at least one uncle passed out in the mashed potatoes, or one kid was throwing a fit because she didn’t get a babypoopsalot doll. Even those ads would not be free of bias based on class, socioeconomic status, disability, gender identity and others. There is not much that can be done about this. The advertising industry will continue to pitch product to those who are affluent and either look like they walked out of a Norman Rockwell painting or are desperately trying to look like that. TV experts counsel people on stress, the consequences of adding ten thousand dollars to your credit card debt in two weeks (duh), hangovers, weight gain blah blah blah.
How about some reality-based holiday Public Service Announcements? A middle-aged guy sits alone watching TV in his underwear and drinking beer. A calendar on the wall proclaims that it is DECEMBER 25. A voiceover says: “Is this you, again, this Christmas? You need to buy a dog!” Cut to happy old guy walking a dog wearing a Santa hat and flirting with a gorgeous babe who is also walking her dog.
Or how about this:
A chubby redneck mama dips out squirrel stew and collard greens, while Tiny Bubba proclaims “God bless us one and all.” A festive line of type proclaims: Happy Holidays from all your friends at WRBRO.
It would help. The 99% of us who are not rich, happy and incredibly good looking would know that we too have not been forgotten during the holidays.