Saturday, September 15, 2007

And Another Thing: Why Watching Television Makes Me Crazy

By Carole Taylor

We have now had several decades of insistence from the narrow and rather dull right side of politics and public policy that sex education rightly (hmm) belongs in the home. You know—family values and all that. Don’t talk about it in school where things like facts and research might intrude on the discussion. Let Mom and Dad do it, once they’ve screwed up the courage. Given how tightly wound red state moms and dads are about sexual issues in general, screwing up their courage will be more postponed and interrupted and not-tonight-I’ve-got-a-headached than actual screwing.

So by default, television is doing the education, though not as those red staters would have designed it. Corporate America will always provide the default for all functions rightly held by education, news and history. It’s in the packaging. It’s just a fact of life that the public remembers commercials and movies and Fox News more easily than it remembers documentaries or 12th grade health class or, well, other facts of life.

O! the unintended consequences of failing to screw up your courage.

Instead of an informed population, we have the commercially literate. Consider, if you will, ads for products for these of our fellows who are sexually impaired. Poor babies. All of the Cialis commercials are my faves. Call one of them to mind (I know you can do this) and notice all the boulders and rock hard places and dark crannies and crevices through which the as-yet-unsatisfied couple strolls, foamy waves crashing, all that phallic and vulvic symbolism that adheres directly to the collective right brains of the audience. Mmmm. Tasty.

No doubt whole rafts of conservatives go apeshit that these ads are even ON television, preferring as they do that sex not be mentioned during the family hour. Waste and maim thousands but don’t bring up love. I know how they feel. Doncha just hate being ambushed by a tampon commercial in mixed company? Is no bodily function sacred anymore? Of course not. Why do I even ask. A young girl whose mother hasn’t brought up the subject of puberty yet will wonder why she isn’t bleeding in that calming shade of aqua. But I digress.

In the Cialis ads, you’ll notice that the company tries to strike a tipsy balance between the purpose of the product and what’s actually on screen. Apparently, if the uninitiated relies on the visual information presented, what they will take away from this bit of sexual education is that if a man uses Cialis, he will most likely achieve a prolonged ability to dance on a boat dock. Failing that sudden attack of talent, he will find the urge, and more curiously, the compulsion to take a bath in a clawfoot tub in the wilderness, in a vineyard, on a beach, in the woods, miles from civilization or plumbing. No doubt the reason Cialis works for 36 hours is because it will take the couple that long to haul the tubs and the water out to this romantic spot. Jeeze Louise, just get a room, will ya.

These men are past their prime, men who presumably have been out in the world having sex once or twice sometime in the distant past, they remember what it was like, it seemed fun then, though recently they’ve been encumbered by the throes of a hiatus. Or they’re men who haven’t had a hiatus in their gettieupness and don’t intend to EVER have a hiatus. And yet the Cialis ad writing guys feel it necessary to tell these men that their product does not protect anyone from sexually transmitted diseases. Huh? It doesn’t?? Nope. Says so in the fine print right there on the screen. Fleetingly, and hard to read by anyone past their prime, but it’s there. People who sell products to women for any bodily function at all, it seems, feel the legal and moral obligation to say the same thing on their ads—ads for birth control pills, for instance, or lubricants or godnose what. This stuff will NOT keep you from becoming sick or pregnant. Will not.

Now is it just me, or does this tidbit seem evidence that sex education left to Mom and Dad has somehow failed. Failed everyone, it seems. How could anyone possibly assume that a birth control pill could by any means other than faith alone prevent STD’s? Or more to the point, why would anyone think that a pill that allows daily, yearly, world-without-end erections might as an added benefit prevent pregnancy and/or STD’s? Somehow, I suspect that encouraging people with this minuscule amount of innate intelligence to have sex is not overly helpful to the vigor of the collective gene pool. Do we really want more of these idiots wandering around with priapism?

And while we’re at it, did anyone notice that Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator” is being sponsored by Cialis or Viagra or both? Who ARE these people in corporate America? Is nobody graduating college anymore with even a waltz through a lone English class or a psychology class that might whisper concepts like irony or symbolism? Or consistency in a logical argument?

I know. I’m getting old. These curmudgeonly observations wouldn’t have even occurred to me when I was still dating, or even when I was capable of dating. Just gimme the lube and shaddup about yer metaphors. That was my approach to life in the mists of the distant past.

Now... if they came up with a female equivalent of Cialis, I might be forced to rethink all of this. Aaaah, shaddup and hand me the lube. Just remember—it doesn’t prevent STD’s.

Copyright by Carole Taylor

Carole Taylor holds a masters degree and most of a doctorate, which she used as a university administrator for much too long by all accounts. She has been a commercial artist, a journalist, a grants writer, a house cleaner and a Renaissance woman. She also wrote a fantastic must-read novel, called
"A Third Story".
You can email her here.