Zone38 Presents...
Letters to the World

01-Jul-2001

Ingredients of Happy Fun Ball

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 7:16 pm

Ingredients of Happy Fun Ball include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space. … Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.
— from an old Saturday Night Live commercial parody

OK, class, today’s topic is– if you haven’t already guessed– TV commercials. Specifically, those prescription drug commercials that have recently started appearing everywhere on the airwaves.

The thing about them is that, under American law, advertisers have several choices if they want to sell prescription drugs on television: They can opt to name the product but not actually specify what it does, or they can do exactly the opposite, with no restrictions whatsoever. However, because our society is so litigious, if the advertiser wishes to mention both the product’s name and its purpose, the ad must also include a long, ridiculous, and sometimes just downright scary list of the drug’s side effects, often more than a bit reminiscent of the Happy Fun Ball skit linked above. I mean, it’s just so incongruous– we see all this imagery of people living such a nice, happy, joyous life, and then we’re told by the announcer that in some people the drug may cause chronic side effects and even death. Yeah, talk about nice and joyous.

Thus the advertisers often take the easy way out and just mention the drug’s name without mentioning what it does. But in my opinion, that’s even more pointless than having to read the whole riot act regarding the drug’s side effects. Usually the copy for these commercials is written something like: “Ask your doctor about Soditol and see if it’s right for you”– or even worse, “These people have tried Soditol; why haven’t you?” I’ll tell you why: I haven’t the slightest clue what in the world the blasted drug is for! I really don’t want to go into the doctor’s office and accidentally embarrass myself by asking for some sort of medication for PMS…

And don’t even get me started on infomercials. That’s another rant entirely, which I’ll probably get around to in a few days…

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