Wednesday, September 3, 2008

growing up on the pharm

Once upon a time the commercials with the most airplay went to the companies with the most money. During the 80's and early 90's, these commercials were mostly reserved for corporations like McDonalds, Burger King, Quaker Oats (which sold oatmeal under the slogan "It's the right thing to do", and which also makes Rice-a-roni, Life and Cap'n Crunch cereals, and Aunt Jemima syrup, to name a few), Campbell's (soups), and Gorton's (as in fish sticks). Occasionally a drug ad would sneak its way into the mix, usually restricted to Tylenol or Bayer. Now: pharmaceutical companies have easily quadrupled their grasp on the marketing sector of the media. There is not a single commercial break on any channel that is free from advertisements selling one drug or another. TNT (which shows approximately 6 hours of Law and Order episodes every day, and which I therefore watch for approximately 6 hours every day) had a two-year love affair with the PetMeds, a massive distributor of pharmaceuticals for animals. Without fail there would be at least one (sometimes two) of these commercials each commercial break (3-4 per episode). If, in recent years, I noticed a rapid, drastic decline in the health of those around me; If the nation truly was composed of a populous growing increasingly ill; if my neighbors were dropping like flies, or being forced to check into hospitals now, as they had not in previous decades, well....perhaps I wouldn't mind these commercials. But I haven't; it isn't; they aren't.

The most terrifying commercial I've ever seen was for an ADT security system, in which a mom is taking pictures of her young daughters in their ballerina costumes and then realizes there's an angry yet well-groomed white man standing outside the window, and she grabs her girls and runs upstairs as the burglar breaks into the house. The second-most terrifying commercial I've seen was for a flu vaccine. With a green filter and dark colors, twinned with tight camera shots and slow-building, dramatic music, a mother and her daughter prepare for an event. As she puts her lipstick on her daughter there is a freeze-frame in which a narrator quickly reminds viewers that The Flu can KILL! Perhaps the mother and daughter are preparing for a funeral - the daughter's funeral.

Restless Leg Syndrome. Migranes. HPV. Meningococcal Meningitis. The Flu.

These are just a few of the life-/sanity-threatening diseases pharmaceuticals can possibly prevent. Yes, possibly. For one commercial (a meningitis vaccine), the commercial told viewers to talk to their doctors about [the vaccine], which would HELP to prevent your child from contracting this deadly disease from their first kiss. The same goes for the HPV vaccine. It can HELP prevent you getting cervical cancer. Know what else can prevent contracting HPV? Abstinence. Even better (as yes, I do recognize the biological *need* for sex), CONDOMS! Condoms are THE most affective form of birth control, they are the easiest to use, and the least expensive. While they always said NOT to prevent the spread of STD's, they DO prevent human papillomavirus and cervical cancer. Meningitis......have you ever known anyone to get this? I have. One person. I have moved dozens (DOZENS) of times, met hundreds, even thousands of people, and I have known ONE who had meningitis. It was pretty nasty: several weeks worth of isolation and excruciating spinal taps. He didn't die. No one else even got sick. But we'd better all rush to the doctor and pay several hundred dollars for a vaccine that MIGHT help prevent us getting the illness. Migranes: the answer is water. Lots and lots of water. I've known many people who have suffered from migranes. My mother gets them occasionally (she's a notorious non-hydrator), I've gotten them from time to time (too much internet and not enough water), and my aunt has gotten them as well (she had a lump removed from her carotid, and also doesn't drink enough). Restless Leg Syndrome is PURELY the result of people living off a steady diet of coffee and diet pills, and working 80-hour weeks wearing high-healed dress shoes.

My solution: Downsize. And I'm not talking about the corporations here.


Jessie said...

Ha. Jon, and his entire family has RLS, except they don't call it that, they call it "the fidgets". His grandpa has it so bad that he loses hours and hours of sleep because the sensation won't go away until he's walking around. So he walks around, sometimes all night long. Weird!! I'd never even heard of such a thing until I met them. So, so, so weird.

Shannon said...

*cough* Actually, condoms may provide effective birth control, but they don't necessarily prevent the spread of HPV. Even women who haven't had sexual intercourse can get it. Just thought I'd clarify. :)