In times like these, there are only four kinds of TV commercials.
The first kind are ones that mention COVID-19 by name. They are usually from the government, with weird animated icons demonstrating how far six feet is, or showing you how to wash your hands because they believe their citizens would never otherwise know there was soap involved. These spots all end with clever taglines like “Stay home. Stay safe.” or “Use Your Head. Stop the Spread.” or “Healthy horns stop germs.*”
In the second kind of commercial, you’d never know there was a disease going around. Instead, they talk about “times like these.” They would be equally appropriate in the aftermath of a volcano eruption, a hurricane or a nuclear attack. “We have been here to sell you things for 140 years,” the advertisers want you to know, “and we’ll be here through times like these to sell you what you need. Unless what you need is toilet paper.”
Sometimes, advertisers try to turn “times like these” into times for a promotion. Have you noticed all the car companies willing to deliver your new car right to your home with 0% APR for, like 10 years, and no payments due until you stop coughing? On one hand, it doesn’t exactly seem like the perfect time to purchase a new vehicle, since you would have to completely disinfect it before getting in (ruining the new car smell), and there’s barely anywhere you can drive it anyway. But on the other hand, any reason is a good reason to not have to visit a car dealership. How, I wonder, will the salespeople go into the back room to talk to their manager about getting you the best price?
Then there are the feel-good commercials. You know, the ones that thank first responders with stock footage of doctors and nurses. Or the ones that show emotional YouTube videos about how we’re all coming together while staying apart. Oh, look, there are the Italian people serenading each other from their balconies. And here are people driving by a hospital honking their thanks to healthcare workers. And don’t forget the helpful Instagram demonstration of how to fashion a face mask out of a used bra. Some of these also show warm footage of families enjoying each other’s company. That happy family footage was obviously shot very, very early in the quarantine period.
Finally there are the oblivious commercials that don’t acknowledge the circumstances in any way. The advertisers just didn’t see why one of the worst global catastrophes in history should compel them to alter their marketing plans. A lot of these spots seem to be from companies advertising prescription drugs for various non-COVID conditions, as if the message is, “Hey, folks, don’t forget about all these other things you can catch.”
Anyway, I’m sure all of this has you asking a very important question: What kind of blog will this blog be in times like these?
Well, I’ve given it some serious thought, and here’s what I’ve decided:
This blog has been with you for almost nine years now, coming to you twice a week in good times and since Trump became president. And while I’m practicing social distancing just as you should be (see graphic at right) and coming to you from my home, I should point out that I’ve always come to you from my home, so, really, it’s no big change. Rest assured that I will continue to bring you my feeble attempts at humor even as I can feel my family’s mental capacity diminishing to the point where, one morning last week, four of us (and the dog) went running through the house flapping our arms to show our almost two-year-old granddaughter how to fly, which is the only way you can fly in times like these without having to be quarantined for two weeks when you land.
I will also periodically thank President Trump for providing, as any great leader would, entertainment in times like these, when the Chinese virus is ravaging our society. I hope he’ll continue to make stuff up so that we can enjoy a laugh during these tough times.
And because so much of our time will be spent reading, I am providing, as a public service, copies of my book, Kids Are Dumb; Parents Are Dumber, for just $9.99, with no payment due until you get your credit card bill. Just click the link at the bottom right corner of this page to order.
So stay well, everyone. Watch free concerts on Facebook Live. Visit with friends and relatives on Zoom. Stay the hell away from old people. And, remember, There’s no “we” in “isolation.”™
See you soon.
*I’m guessing this one is specific to the University of Texas.