Elvis Presley, I’ve heard, used to take a gun sometimes and shoot out his TV screen when something on it irritated him.
My “gun” is the mute button on my TV remote. I can zap any commercial into sweet, silent oblivion. TV commercials are my biggest pet peeves. They are a relentless barrage of noise and nonsense. Some of them are shown as often as five or six times an hour.
The mute button, to me anyway, is the greatest invention since the wheel. It really came in handy to zap time and again what was the most irritating ad in TV history – that Progressive insurance ad with the “robot” man yelling, “Get ready to bunnnnnnnnnddddllllle!” It went on and on and on, and it was worse – far worse – than fingernails on a chalkboard. I emailed Progressive twice, begging them to take that sickening thing off. I know others who did the same. At first we thought we’d “won.” It wasn’t on for a week or so, then to our disgust it returned again and again and again. One time that vomit-inducing thing came on while I was in the kitchen. Slipping on the kitchen floor, I sprained my ankle as I ran like a sprinter into the living room to grab my remote and “mute” that mindless piece of puke. During those times when I couldn’t get to the mute, I’d have to plug my ears with both hands tight over my head to keep from hearing it. It was worse than awful, so much so I live in dread the fools might put it on again.
Other commercials I constantly mute are these:
There are those All State insurance ads that dub the deep, deep bass voice of a black man onto the moving lips of other people. In one of them, a young woman is at lunch with her boyfriend. As she talks, her own voice suddenly morphs into the man’s deep voice. I don’t get it. Is it supposed to be funny? Well, it’s not. It’s just plain creepy. And it’s following a current tiresome TV-ad trend – people talking with others’ voices, like the toddlers in cribs talking with adult male voices.
I’ve had it up to here with that Aflac-insurance duck! At first, some years ago, a couple Aflac ads were kind of “cute,” but the trouble with cute commercials is they become intolerably irritating after having to see and hear them a thousand times. The Aflac duck, as you may well know, was “injured,” and so the newest ads show him undergoing therapy in a hospital, including speech therapy. It’s stomach-churningly stupid. Like most TV commercials, those ads insult one’s intelligence and sour one’s patience.
There’s a new ad that has me leaping for my remote. To a mindless jingle being sung in the background (the tune kind of sounds like that “bama-bama bo-bama” song), a giddy camera on steroids goes zooming through a series of car interiors and exteriors showing young people having fun: barbecue, movie, beach, etc. Then the camera zooms up to the back of a blue Nissan from which a young attractive couple hops out carrying guitars in front of a theater plaza. They are apparently “stars” ready to perform. I suppose this ad is supposed to convey the message if you buy a Nissan, your life is going to be just chock-full of fun and artistic success. Yeah, right!
The Marriott Inn ads drive me up a wall. One shows an elephant in a motel room, another shows a giraffe getting ready to leave the room and yet another shows a bunch of penguins cavorting in the room. The penguins, like the Aflac duck, went from being sort of “cute” to intolerably annoying.
Yet another ad I always zap into silence is the Rosetta Stone language-learning ad. At first, the ad was fine. It doesn’t sing, dance or contain any lamebrain, ludicrous special effects (as most ads do), but it has long worn out its welcome. It’s got to be the most frequently shown ad of them all; it’s been on over and over and over again for years. Enough!
I actually like ads in newspapers and magazines. They’re blessedly quiet and often informative. But TV ads?! They’re a form of torture. Spare me! Whoever invented the mute button has my undying gratitude.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.