the Tannhauser gate

I’m about to youtube the hell out of this post.

I don’t break ground on the internet.
I have the same cycle of Web sites that I hit constantly, that get my steady business. I am not trolling at its depths, seeing all of the weird and wonderful things that it has to offer. I visit the New York Times. BBC.  al-Jazeera from time to time. an entire host of jackass political and sports blogs. and, of course, Youtube.
oh, youtube. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be capitalizing when I spell your ridiculous name. now, allow me to veer off on a short screed: what the fuck is a ‘you tube’? other than a reference to the giant cache of cell phone videos that some douchebag computer programmer designed 2005 and titled as such because it sounded cute and catchy. now it’s in the global vernacular. just like ‘googling’, which can be defined as “What passes for investigative journalism these days.”
here’s another one: ‘pwn’. that’s pronounced, I believe, pow-en. there’s no real definition for it, because it isn’t an actual word — there isn’t, end of story — but rather a typo.
but yes, youtube. youtube is fucking great. I’d say I use it most as a jukebox, but there’s the occasional video of the bored North Korean zookeepers pitting wild animals against each other for sport; or the obese person losing their balance gracelessly; or the simple movie trailer; the distraction that keeps you sane when your boss is advocating carpet bombing as a legitimate foreign policy and wistfully reminiscing about the nonexistent decline of police brutality, all without a hint of irony. 
and then, there’s the drug commercials.

the what?

I suppose you could watch any kind of commercial you’d like online. why you would willingly do that is beyond me; commercials are far and away the worst thing about … shit, everything. they are mind numbing, everywhere, vacant and constant. but instead of unfocused broadsides against an easy target like consumerism, I’ll try and stay more on target. stick to pharmaceutical advertising.
I don’t know how much television you watch. my apartment isn’t very big; basically two rooms. and if I’m here alone during the day, I ususally have the TV on. I’d bet I watch more than most people. I sure hope I do, in a for-the-good-of-mankind way. but I get basic cable, which is around 70 goddamn channels. and, my apartment is chronically disordered, so I can’t always find the remote. which means that a lot of commercials get flash-seared into my subconscious each and every day, and are left to haunt and litter my memory for years to come. five, eight eight. two, three hundred. empire. 
of course, there entire fields of study devoted to advertising research, and the reasons we buy what we buy, all of which could prove me wrong, but I defiantly won’t admit that they leave a lasting impression on me, unless they’re really fucking stupid (see here), or full of eyebrow-raising detail. in that second instance, that’s where you’ll find most of your drug commercials.
here’s a homework assignment for you to do: the next time you’re sitting on your bum ass in front of your television watching the latest bourgeois bullshit Bravo has rolled out to keep your mind humming at a nice, flat ‘duh’ tone, bust out a pad and pen, and count the number of times you see a prescription drug commercial in a thirty-minute period. I’ve never actually done this, just so you know. but I’d bet you’d be surprised by the results.
they’re frequency, I think, is interesting, simply because of what they’re selling. it’s not shitty Coors Light, not Honda Accords, not even financial products (another term that makes me want to light something on fire), but drugs. specifically tailored chemical combinations that you willingly put in your body to modify your health.

we call these subheads at work

I’m a complete amateur when it comes to economic theory, but I guess the principle that the lure of profit is a powerful incentive for innovation would naturally extend into health care. into anti-inflammatories. into curing erectile dysfunction. into soothing your asthma, lowering your cholesterol, to making your body function better — or more in the way that you want it to. 
okay, fine. for the purposes of this blog post, I’ll accept that incentivization is the most assured way toward medical progress progress. so, to sell more pills to make us all better down the road, pharmeceutical companies roll out generic fixes with copyrighted names, and expensive campaigns to get you to the buy them. but in every one of those ads, there’s that 15 or 20-second spot where the actor doing the voice-over extolling the virtues of Plavis or Symbicort or fucking Viagra has to get all serious on a motherfucker and read through the laundry list of things that could go wrong inside your body if you were to take one of those goddamned pills.
drugs are good things, of course. it’s just, when you combine advertising with a set of serious health risks the seller is bound by law to acknowledge, the results are unintentionally hilarious. case-in-point: Yaz.
this is all I’ve really been getting at, these Yaz commercials. no, not that Yaz (jukebox!). I’m talking about the contraceptive, the one you’ve known about, despite not having ever really thought about, for the last year or two. Bayer hawks this thing on the TV an awful lot, and they don’t seem to be very good at it. for instance, here is a Yaz commercial (nevermind the bullshit the uploader added for comedic effect) where three attractive young women sit around an inviting rooftop lounge and discuss the latest cure-all birth control pill that everyone’s doctor is recommending. you know. girl talk.
in the middle of their conversation, one of the ladies makes sure to cover the risks you’re shouldering should you decided to actually eat this bullshit. no advertiser in their right mind would willfully submit to this, obviously. Bayer has to do this, because the FDA makes some hard and fast rules, and this is one of them: you got to tell the idiots who will eventually buy what you are selling what awful things could happen to them should they decide to take your product. so, in true advertising form, the drug commercial will attempt this in the most unobtrusive way possible. you’ll get a collage of beautiful people doing active things, of bright graphics, while a pleasant voice talks about blood clots, thoughts of suicide, and internal bleeding, and if you’re listening, how Yaz includes something that increases potassium and may send your kidneys right down your small intestines and out the back door.
all of those feints got tossed out the window, however, after Bayer released an ad that FDA determined was misleading. and was made to release another, explaining away its earlier ads, and the result is one long, money shot.
so very grotesque, yet so very worth it. I hope you enjoy drug commercials as much as I do.