I watch a good deal of TV, so I pick up on things. The shows I like, the shows I don’t like…as well as the shows I like disliking and those I dislike liking. Usually, commercials go by pretty fast until the show is back––well, they take as long as they must. I use them to pass the time. ‘Take a shot every time you see a new commercial.’ If done well, commercials can provide an extra source of entertainment and value, if not values.

I think the best example of this is the Super Bowl, where some people only watch for the commercials. (‘Take a shot every time there’s new football.’) They stick with you and you want to talk about them. Companies go all out to evolve their brands in a way that is consistent with the times and the times they have to broadcast their messages. We don’t mind commercials that blend favorably with our awareness or lives.

Humans have a tendency to create or ascribe patterns where none exist. That is called apophenia. Some understand this and compensate. For a while, you ignore the occasionally repetitive nature of chance. On one level, our minds are programmed to seek out and notice certain content above other content, above all. Some things are recurrent, but you know they are either disparate or too good to be true.

This summer, I have seen the worst crop of TV commercials I can remember––and I only remember one: this summer. Maybe there is something to be said for this occasion, if not on behalf of it. You see these commercials pile up and you think it’s too bad to be true. In fact, it’s just too bad that it is true. These commercials take you out of your comfort zone by making you jump out of your skin.

We are talking about them for all the wrong reasons, not the least of which is that they shouldn’t be discussed at all. When I see these things or begin to feel their presence, I mute the TV or change the channel entirely; I don’t even want the light from the advertisement to ricochet into my peripheral consciousness. With that said, I am aware of what I am looking to avoid. Maybe they have, then, done a good job. A bad job done well.

They are doing their job by preventing you from doing yours, as you cannot help but tremble at the thought of seeing or hearing them again. We want to obliterate them from our mind’s eye, but we don’t see them coming. You might think TV commercials have turned a corner, but it seems like they are really just creepily waiting around that very same corner. It’s not all doom and gloom, however, it’s also shock and awe––the same things we look for in our TV shows.

 

Lifetime Achievement Award goes to…

And never forget…

At least there are no commercials for the commercials. Or is that what television has become?