HOME/MEDiA: Oh, How I Loathe TV Adverts!

As far as I can, I always mute TV ads, when they come on. I often wonder if most people might think me odd for doing so.

Halifax ruin The Wizard of Oz.

I’d be happy living without a TV, and have done so on several occasions. Not so Teresa, my wife. We went without for a while whilst moving homes. But in the end, Teresa wanted TV, so we did Freeview for a while. However, the cheap Freeview box Teresa bought – I refused to spend any money on TV media – was rubbish.

We’d been getting by without an internet service provider or home phone as well. But in the end I caved in, and we went with a Virgin package. Much to my chagrin, as I swore after our last bout with them, never agin!

Halifax cash in on, i.e. ruin, more of our collective childhood nostalgia.

Anyroad… even with all the channels we now have on our Virgin deal, with broadband and a phone line, there’s practically nothing I can ever find that I want to watch.

I do watch YouTube on the TV sometimes. Indeed, I’m more likely to watch YouTube than ‘proper’ TV. I suppose most TV has probably always been junk. But it seems to me that the percentage of brainless crud is higher than ever.

Argh… awful brash trash.

I do know, from experience, that I can quite easily get sucked in to watching loads of garbage, and I might even find myself quite enjoying some of it. The thing is, I feel there are sooo many other and better things one could be doing. But this post is not about the programmes on TV, it’s about the advertising.

I’ve never really liked adverts. I’ve had short spells where I’m less averse to them than currently. The way I see it, watching adverts is like letting loudmouthed sales-people into your home, to harangue you with their patter. I wouldn’t do that! I suspect most people wouldn’t. Why let them in via my TV?

BBC2 aired the first ever computer-generated TV ident, in ’79.

Even though the BBC is not all it once was – I might think of the Attenborough at the helm of BBC2 period as a probable peak – maybe it was never really as good as my memories suggest? Certainly these days it seems dominated by a dumbed down populist agenda, and almost as vapid as any other media outlet.

But it does remain ad-free. And for that alone it should be cherished. Of course the content could and should be better. Then it’d be more worth cherishing. But it seems to me a part of our cultural heritage we allow to wither away at our peril. [1]

Cleverly done? Yes. Funny? Very. But I still hate formation dance in ads. [2]
But getting back to adverts. One of many reasons I dislike the kind of neo-Marxist-po-mo-ne’erdowells I had to endure as lecturers on my degree at Goldsmiths (not all of ’em, thankfully), apart from the utter guff that comprised much of their so-called philosophy, was that many of the beloved writers of such claptrap seemed to love advertising.

Although I find comedian Bill Hicks rather too dark and depressing overall, he does have several threads he returns to that I quite like. One of these is his hatred of advertising. In the spirit of the dead comedian, and in a departure from my usual preference for mild-mannered politeness, this is my message for the world of advertising in general, and current TV advertising in particular:

Fuck off
Sorry folks…

Having said all this, I do find I can enjoy vintage adverts. I think this is due to them no longer being a contemporaneous attempt to manipulate me/the viewer. And this distancing effect defuses the quality I find most repulsive, allowing me to be able to ‘enjoy’ them as the type of cultural artefacts folks like Roland Barthes might have reveries over.

Hamlet Cigars
Hamlet Cigars, 1987. Even adverts were better in the olden days… [3]
And one of the fundamentals of why I hate a lot of advertising generally, but TV (and online or cinema) advertising in particular, is that we, the viewer are treated as, and frequently portrayed as, gormless idiots. Without the loving handholding corporations to direct us, we’d just be dribbling into our crotches on our sofas.

Uswitch empowers gormless sofa-bound numbskull…


[1] Peter Hitchens is, in my view, a pretty insufferable cock, but in spite of this, I find myself agreeing, in essence, with his views on the ‘Decline and Fall of the BBC‘. I must add that simply because I add a link to this content does not mean I endorse it. First Things is a religious and conservative organ.

Lloyds seduce with ye chocolate box olde Englande.

[2] I couldn’t find any pics of the ads I was looking for, and this one isn’t the best example, as it is very entertaining. But I hate unison dancing, or unison anything for that matter. It always makes me think of storm troopers goose-stepping. It’s one of the many things that makes me allergic to any form of organised religion; not formation dancing, per se, but conformist behaviour.

Conform or be damned? I’ll take the ostracised guys wine over your fizzy piss, thanks.

[3] Creativity and humour are to be found, of course, albeit in varying degrees, in advertising of all sorts. And sometimes the ‘pure’ information communication of advertising can be relatively neutral, and therefore less prone to make me nauseous. The rose-tinted effect of nostalgia can also allow me to enjoy older ads. But what’s crucial is that the passage of time has defused the weapon of psychological manipulation.

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