|The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane. oil, 26 7/8 x 33 7/8 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
I’ve been back in the United States for just over a year now, and I’m beginning to feel like Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hollow (the Washington Irving book, not the new TV show), and it’s television that’s doing it.
I don’t watch much TV – my wife hogs the set to watch her Korean soap operas starting at 8:00 a.m., and often not ending until 11:00 p.m., and I’m usually busy writing anyway. But, at odd intervals, I do watch some of the old shows that are worth my time; re-runs of ‘Monk’, “Fresh Prince of Bellaire,’ or some of the relative new shows like ‘Major Crimes,” and ‘Castle.’ I seldom get to watch two episodes in a row, or to watch at the same time two days in a row. I tell you this, so the randomness of my viewing times is apparent.
Why, you might ask, is that important? Well, as I watch on those rare occasions, I can’t but help noting the commercials, which sometimes take up nearly as much air time as the program. Along with the commercials for fast food joints, great deals not available in stores, auto and home insurance, and reverse mortgages, I’m noticing a large number of commercials that seem to indicate that the state of health in my homeland has deteriorated significantly in the last several years.
I mean, the number of commercials for potions that treat diabetes, moderate to severe psoriasis, arthritis (in its many forms), yeast infections, erectile dysfunction – well, the list goes on – is huge – at least during the random times that I watch. There’s that randomness again, meaning, that while the number of such health-related; or health deterioration related; ads I see might not be statistically significant from the standpoint of numbers, but they’re spread out over the broadcast schedule. I watch before 8:00 a.m., sometimes around noon, and often after 11:00 p.m., and the ads are there. I don’t know if these viewing times represent a special demographic for whom such promotions are appropriate, but there you are.
But, my question, concern, thought is; have we Americans become a population of disease-laden, physically and emotionally burdened lab rats, in need of ever-increasing quantities of increasingly toxic medications? I say toxic, because if you pay attention to the machine-gun speed language that accompanies these ads, or if your eyes are sharp enough to read the miniscule print that often flashes on the screen for a few seconds, the negative side effects of the medications is often worse than the disease. For example, you can get rid of skin blotches, but you risk severe, sometimes fatal heart attack. Get my drift?
It’s not scientifically proven, but based upon my observations, we’ve become a sick society.