Remember when Bob Dole was all over our televisions talking about how he couldn’t get it up? Remember how we all really needed to know about that?
Yeah, me neither.
Though celebrity endorsements certainly pre-date tacky Viagra ads, Mr. Dole’s campaign cast an unflattering light on this weird little trend.
Some of these TV spots are, admittedly, worse than others. Sure, we all know that Wilfred Brimley’s got the diabeetus. But watching him ride a horse while waxing poetic about Liberty Medical Home Testing Supplies just isn’t as off-putting as, say, Joe Theismann implying he’s got a prostate the size of a grapefruit and that he needs to take a leak every ten minutes.
I don’t fault the celebrities for wanting / needing to make these ads. I fault the ad-makers themselves for thinking that a Famous Person is needed to help sell their product.
Say I am a woman who experiences occasional urinary incontinence. Like, to the point where it’s a thing. I am going to be VERY AWARE that this is a Problem, and I will VERY INTENTIONALLY seek out some sort of Product to help me with this Problem. Oh, I see there is a television commercial for a Product for people like me! Great. Fine. Just let me get myself to the Walgreens right quick and nip this in the bud.
See? I didn’t need to know that Whoopi Goldberg pees herself a little, too. I don’t need Kirstie Alley to make me feel like this is an A-OK situation. In fact, I could have gone my entire life not knowing that Whoopi needs to pack a box of Special Pads in her carry-on. Um, ew. Just show a Normal Person (er, “television-normal” person). It’s all I need. I wasn’t, like, on the fence before: Should I just piss my drawers and deal with it? What would Rebecca Howe do?
I’d like to think that I have average-human levels of self-confidence and thus, don’t need this sort of reassurance. I’d also like to think that humanity (American humanity, that is) hasn’t gotten itself so beaten-down into celebrity-worship submission that we NEED Jamie Lee Curtis to appear on our TVs rubbing her tummy and talking about bowel-regulating yogurt. Hey advertising person who came up with that one: I don’t care how often that woman takes a shit, and I never will. If I feel like my colon’s in disarray, and I really like eating yogurt, then I will buy your product. End of story.
This extends into things that aren’t even consumer goods, a la Mr. Dole’s little blue pills. Are patients actually going to their doctors, asking for “those eye drops that Maggie from Northern Exposure sells?”* I also don’t care that Sally Field and Blythe Danner have old-lady bones. In fact, I already knew that they have old-lady bones, seeing as they are old ladies. With bones. If my doctor thinks I need that medicine, she’ll prescribe it for me.
Because, after all, she’s seen the commercial too.
*Sorry, Janine Turner. That is all you are to me.