Posts Tagged ‘television’

Go Ahead, Wreck Your Home

March 14, 2008

Do government agencies use subliminal advertising techniques?  For months now, the Lottery Corporation has been running commercials to promote their ‘play on-line’ service.  In other words, they’re promoting on-line gambling.

The commercials are ostensibly humorous.  One features a middle aged suburban man teeing up in his living room and driving a golf ball through the sliding glass patio door, shattering it.  Another has a woman rolling her bowling ball down a wood-floored corridor, which then crashes into the wall at the end and damages it.  Both end with the corporation’s web address and a voice-over telling you to “Play at home”.

The images in the ads seem to go beyond humour.  They appear to appeal to the habitual gamblers’ deep, dark desire to destroy their lives/homes.  It strikes me as unethical and very hypocritical, given that subliminal advertising is supposed to be illegal.  I guess the government will look the other way when they are benefiting from the revenue generated.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, subliminal advertising refers to using techniques or tactics in advertising that suggest something subconsciously.  There is always a grey area, of course, because much of an ad’s work is to create an image to appeal to a target market.  This is usually not achieved via directly spoken or written information.

A famous example of subliminal advertising is the image of popcorn or drinks on a single frame of film inserted into a movie in a theatre.  The audience doesn’t consciously notice it, but they suddenly feel the urge to buy some popcorn or a soft drink.  This would have been commonly done back in the days when there was an intermission.

These lottery ads remind me of the screaming faces airbrushed into ice cubes in liquor ads.  Those ads tapped into the fears and insecurities that the alcoholic feels.   Although the lottery ads don’t have hidden images, there does seem to be a subconscious message, appealing to an addict’s self-destructive tendencies.

This gives an indication of how much government depends on lottery revenues and begs the question, which is a higher priority for them – revenue or society?  Should government prey on its own people to generate revenue?

Just a thought.

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Why Are Women So Bitchy?

February 25, 2008

The Oscars have come and gone again.  Another red carpet parade of fabulously dressed stars, directors, producers, and other creative people running the gauntlet of media whores who jostle and compete to call them over for the privilege of asking, “Who are you wearing?”

As if that’s not bad enough, after the show the women do the obligatory ‘get the claws out’ thing and name the worst dressed women who failed to meet the required standard of perfection for such a spectacular event, as defined by a handful of European designers.  Who cares if you think she didn’t pull it off?  She got an invite to the Oscars.  Did you?  Who are you, anyway?

These women – and don’t forget our Canadian gay guy who has managed to establish himself as some kind of authoritative commentator who should be listened to, for some reason – don’t actually do anything themselves.  They aren’t designers.  But, they trash other women for wearing dresses they liked without worrying about whether the world at large would like them or even – gasp – approve!  I wonder if these ‘style commentators’ aren’t actually sounding offended at not being consulted.  After all, it’s what they do, and if people don’t think they need to consult the experts – in their magazines and style columns – they’ll have to find something real to do.

Women complain that guys don’t respect them enough or objectify them, but they should listen to themselves.  We don’t do that.  I would never dream of trashing a woman for what she wears, no matter how bad I thought she looked.  The only instance when I might have, that comes to mind at the moment, involved an obese older woman in a skirt with celullite spilling over her knee high nylons.  I couldn’t even be bothered to tell anyone about that until now, about twenty years later.

Last night the women on CTV even dug out some file photos and picked some of the worst disasters of all time.  Of course, they included Bjork and her swan dress, commenting, “What was she thinking?”  Have they ever listened to Bjork’s music?  I doubt it.  They only know of Bjork the somewhat famous person.  They don’t know or care what she sings about.  If they had listened to Bjork’s music they might have had an idea what she was thinking.

I don’t claim to be an expert on Bjork.  I haven’t heard all of her music, by any means.  But what I have heard, going way back to The Sugar Cubes, I like.  She is a true original.  She expresses what is inside her. She is an artist, not just a media personality – and certainly not a poser.  I totally got the swan.  How can you hear her pain and not get it?  If you don’t get it you haven’t heard her music, or haven’t really listened.  So, it seems women also accuse men of not listening to them, but don’t listen themselves.

I’m a guy, with a dangling thing between my legs.  I want to use it to penetrate women for carnal pleasure.  Should I really have to tell them this stuff?

TV Dinners, or, Anatomy of a Ruined Meal

February 23, 2008

What is with this obsession with showing surgery on TV?  It’s not enough that the medical and forensic dramas that dominate the schedule regularly feature gory make-up and effects to simulate it, the news has to top them with real footage of actual surgery and other medical procedures – at dinner time.

How many times have I watched the news while eating my dinner – my version of time saving multi-tasking – only to be confronted with an image of someone’s heart or other organ being worked on?  Then there’s the various solutions to obesity they like to show, like liposuction.  There’s nothing like watching human fat being sucked through a tube to make you savour that meal.

But, I don’t think there’s anything that can make you feel sick to your stomach like an inside view of a colonoscopy.  I do not want to see the inside of anyone’s ass or intestines at any time, let alone when I’m eating.  That glistening surface of some pinch point that appears to be the gateway to the next chamber of someone’s innermost privacy is forever burned in my mind.

It’s bad enough that broadcasters would show this stuff on the late news, leaving you with the lasting image to haunt you as you try to sleep.  But, they couldn’t stop there.  They had to put it on the evening news, too, when many people are eating.  It’s just tasteless and inconsiderate of their audience.  Even if I wasn’t eating, I wouldn’t want to see it.

Shocking images are considered good television, I suppose.  If the alternative is talking heads, they’d rather put you off your dinner than risk boring you into watching the competition.  The competition is showing it, so they have to.  Their ratings are more important than your enjoyment of a meal.

Three Right Feet

February 15, 2008

Something strange is going on in the Strait of Georgia.  Over the past few months, several feet have been found.  Human feet, that is.  Curiously, they’re all right feet.

A few months ago, two right feet, both in size twelve running shoes, washed up on islands about a hundred miles apart in the channel between Vancouver Island and the mainland.  Recently, another right foot washed up on another of the Gulf Islands.

So, where did they come from?  There have been no reports of people losing right feet in boating accidents.  Occasionally, light aircraft serving the forestry industry go down, but the workers wear work boots rather than runners.  DNA tests have not matched any missing persons.

I suppose it’s possible they were victims of animal attacks.  Theoretically, three separate idiots could have taunted killer whales and found out how they got their name.  Similarly, it could have been bear attacks on the coast.  But, missing persons like those get reported.

Then there’s foul play.  They could have been the victims of gangland killings, their bodies disposed of at sea.  Alternatively, it’s possible the feet were pounds of flesh forfeited in lieu of payment of a debt or as punishment for being behind in payments.

There’s another possible explanation.  These men could have lost their right feet as punishment for being bad dancers.  They could have been unfortunate enough to have very high maintenance girlfriends who really, really wanted to go on ‘Ballroom Dancing’, but let them down.

“You idiot!  I was going to be on television!  Everyone would have been watching me!  Looking at me!  They would have seen me in my beautiful gown!  Then they would have seen me win and adored me!  And YOU ruined everything!  Well, since you have two left feet, I guess you don’t need your right one!”  Chop.

But three of them?  That just doesn’t seem likely.

Three right feet.  Three right feet.  See how they…  Sorry, that was just tasteless.

A Giant Upset Brings Retributive Justice

February 4, 2008

Another Super Bowl has come and gone.  But this time, it was actually interesting and entertaining to the last.  The annual anticlimactic conclusion to the NFL season, which is often overshadowed by the new special edition commercials unveiled for the event, was anybody’s game until the end.  This is a refreshing change of pace for a game that’s usually decided by halftime, and sometimes in the first quarter.

It’s fitting that there was a thrilling finish to a game with such a great setup.  This one was a marketer’s dream.  “Come see the realization of perfection.  A perfect season!”  When, in the last minute, the Giants finally got the touchdown that had so far eluded the Patriots’ playoff opponents and went ahead, it was clear that the invincible team could be beaten.

The only thing that could have made a better, piss your pants ending would have been the completion of one of Tom Brady’s desperation passes for a touchdown in the dying seconds.  But there would be no repeat of the ‘hail mary’ finish, just as there would be no repeat of a perfect season.  The Super Bowl may have been worth watching again, and the price of oil may be through the roof, but the 70s are gone.

The outcome is fitting in another way, too.  New England’s perfect season got off to a controversial start, with the staff caught taping their opponent’s practice session.  Should cheating be rewarded with victory and a perfect record?  Maybe there’s a certain justice in their losing.

There’s an even older wrong that may have been righted.  I’m thinking of a certain official’s call in a certain playoff game some years ago that New England was close to losing.  The referee ruled that their quarterback did not fumble the ball when he was sacked, but he did.  It was called an incomplete forward pass so the Patriots kept the ball.  They went on to win that game moments later then went on to win a Super Bowl they shouldn’t even have been in.  Now they’ve lost one that everyone thought was theirs almost by default.

Retributive justice.  Order restored to the universe.

Beware the Ever Present Bogeyman

February 3, 2008

A couple nights ago I watched another movie on TV that I’d avoided on its release because I’d expected religious propaganda – with good reason.  M. Night Shyamalan’s previous film ‘Signs’ was a very bad, blatant attempt to say that keeping faith in god will save you.

But ‘The Village’ is a much more intelligent, thought provoking, and honest movie.  The story is set in what appears to be a nineteenth century Mennonite type village.  Life is simple, people are innocent and respectful, and old world values are adhered to.  A council of elders are in charge and their edicts are abided by.

This may seem idyllic but the village is in an isolated valley, surrounded by woods inhabited by hostile creatures.  Only the elders seem to have been around before the current truce.  The rest of the community takes their word that there was trouble in the past.  To keep the creatures away, the colour red is banned because it supposedly attracts them.

There is a metaphor here for religion and politics.  There is a clearly defined boundary at the edge of the woods which must not be crossed.  When Lucius Hunt wants to visit the outside world for medicine that would benefit the community, he is forbidden because he would have to pass through the woods.  Medicine?  Science?

One day, Lucius ventures into the woods and is seen by one of “those of whom we do not speak”, as they are referred to.  The red-robed creatures invade the village that night and leave red warning symbols on doors.  This provides the elders an opportunity to reinforce the rules and the consequences of breaking them.

Later, the village idiot stabs Lucius out of jealousy over the legally blind woman they both love.  She volunteers to go to ‘the towns’ to get the medicine Lucius needs to survive.  The elders allow it and, when she asks what she should do if she encounters the creatures, one of them reveals an astonishing truth.  There are no creatures!  It is the elders in costumes who terrorize the village.

We later discover that the elders, all traumatized in the past, had established the village as a shelter from the outside world.  They invented the creatures as a way to control the people and prevent them from leaving or seeking the outside world.  In the end, the elders decide to continue the lie.

A hierarchy creates a bogeyman to instill fear, control people, and preserve a way of life that suits them.  The colour of passion is banned, innocence is emphasized.  Science cannot be pursued if it challenges the rules.  Sound familiar?

Eating Out Is Getting Dangerous

February 1, 2008

There is a gangland style killing for every wallet.  It doesn’t matter where you eat or socialize, you may be a witness to – or victim of – the latest episode in the gang wars that have broken out in greater Vancouver.  These killings could have been lifted straight out of the movies or the Sopranos finale.

A few months ago, just four blocks from my home, gunmen walked into a Chinese restaurant on East Broadway, approached a table, and opened up.  Two people were killed and others were wounded, including young girls.  I assume they were the girlfriends.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve passed that restaurant.  I used to be a regular customer at a bakery directly opposite it, before it closed, and have used the bus stop outside the former bakery many times.  The bullet hole in the window of the restaurant is enough to make you think about the possibility of innocent victims of stray bullets.

A few weeks later, gunmen fired shots through the window of a more upmarket restaurant on West 4th.  It has a reputation as one of the more romantic restaurants in town, I believe, but love wasn’t in the air that night.  A known gangster was killed.  It was only by luck that no one was killed by stray bullets, again.

A few weeks ago, a man with a past was gunned down outside a well known downtown steak house that’s so expensive I had to win a contest to eat there the one time I did.  It happened in full view of other diners inside, including the rest of his party who were waiting for him.

It doesn’t seem to matter where you go or how much you can afford to spend, there’s no guarantee you can escape it.  You’re not safe anywhere.

What are restaurants supposed to do – screen customers to keep out the targets?  How?  Should they ask customers, “Are you now, or have you ever been, involved with a criminal gang?”  I don’t think they’ll volunteer that information.

There is talk of the police working with restaurants as they did with nightclubs.  They visited the clubs, identified known criminals, and made it clear they were not wanted there.  I don’t know how they’ll adapt that to restaurants.  There are a lot more restaurants than nightclubs.  Maybe they’ll just distribute names and pictures of criminals so the restaurants can refuse entry.  That would take a pretty brave Maitre d’.

Whatever they do, I hope it works.

Sunday Morning

January 20, 2008

I got up one Sunday morning when I was eight or nine and turned on the TV.  Growing up in Windsor, a border city, we picked up Detroit stations, even in the pre-cable days of the early 1970s.  So, that meant that I found religious programming rather than the cartoons I was probably hoping for.

What I saw left a lasting impression on me.  A row of beautiful, wholesome looking young women in pastel coloured chiffon dresses stood in a beautiful, natural setting as they sang, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching off to war…”  Besides wondering how they managed to flash their perfect smiles for every syllable, I was immediately appalled.

Even at that tender age, I was offended.  Despite my lack of sophistication, I could see the hypocrisy.  Kill for god?  Doesn’t one of the commandments read, “Thou shalt not kill”?  Now I’m supposed to believe god wants us to kill when it suits him?  And I could see it was a sales job, too.  I may have been pre-pubescent, but I knew a pretty girl when I saw one and, somehow, that sex sells.  Somebody wanted people to buy the ideas of war and god.

At that time, the US was embroiled in the Vietnam war, fighting against the communist North.  Being godless, they were presented as a threat to American ‘values’.  It wasn’t about money, markets, or business opportunities, of course.  It’s amazing how history keeps repeating itself.

If I, a child, could see through this ruse, why couldn’t the adults across the border?  Are people really so blinded by religion?  Apparently, they are.  Give them eyes, that they might see.

‘Onward Christian Soldiers’, a song I suspect has its origins in the Crusades, was the most offensive song I’d ever heard, and it remains so.