Here’s the thing: Infomercials

I, like much of the nation, spent the weekend watching ’round the clock coverage of Hurricane Irene. Here at Rancho Relaxo, we were just outside of that crazy gal’s grasp and our weather was mild. But on my television, reporters stood for 14 hour stretches on wind-whipped pieces of oceanfront, demonstrating that, yes, it was kind of raining. And yes, there was wind. And lo, behold these rushing brooks taking out quaint farmhouses.

I rarely watch CNN or The Weather Channel. By rarely, I mean never. CNN lost me when they started asking people to tweet their opinions about news stories. Actually, they lost me when they joined in the Fox-honed practice of presenting opinion as fact. Plus, all the blonde reporters look the same and they generally ask idiotic questions and I can’t stand how the talking heads will focus on some inane story for hours while the ticker running across the bottom of the screen teases us with far more urgent, and ultimately ignored, world events. And The Weather Channel? Watching it always makes me feel like I am in a hotel room on business and I just don’t like that feeling at all. The notion that a twin set and PowerPoint presentation lurk somewhere in the dark shadows of my near future is not appealing.

As an infrequent viewer of these networks, I did not realize how heavy their advertising leaned on infomercials. I generally DVR my stories (ohmygawdIcan’twaitforSonsofAnarchySeason4tostart), which allows me to FF through the commercials. But watching disasters unfold live does not afford one such luxuries. My eyes were opened to the products that are currently shilled by whatever phantom company concocts such things…but wait! There’s more!

Here’s the thing: I am a divided soul. In many matters, my intellect and emotions cannot agree. Intellectually and spiritually, I know that I am an okay person. I know I have value. My emotions, however, override this and I usually exist in a state of somewhat deep self-loathing. I also know, both intellectually and spiritually, that violence is wrong. But my emotions often support my desire to punch certain people (Michelle Bachmann, child molesters, animal abusers, Guy Fieri) so hard in the face that their mouth collapses in on itself. (Fear not, I don’t act on these emotional impulses…score one for the brain!). And then there’s consumerism. Intellectually, I can’t stand the rampant need to buy buy buy that has overtaken our society, that brutal need to constantly acquire new stuff. But then sometimes I see something and my emotions say, “ooooh, you really need that.” Do I need it? Generally, no. Do I want it? Perhaps for a fleeting moment.

These infomercials are banking on our fleeting moments. Now, before I continue, I want to make it clear that I did not order one single thing “as seen on TV” this weekend, nor did I go online and make a purchase. I, like the brave New Yorkers and the seams on Governor Chris Christie’s odd windbreaker with his name stenciled on the front in prison-issue font, held fast and weathered that storm.

What I saw in my endless hours of hurricane coverage was the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good:

I think I need/want the EZ Moves Lifter. Okay, fine, I don’t have a bunch of furniture that I need to move around all the time. But what if I did? It would be so easy! The guy moved a car, dangummit! And it has an adjustable fulcrum. AN ADJUSTABLE FULCRUM, PEOPLE! If I had this, my life would be EZ. I could sneak into my neighbors’ homes and rearrange all their furniture while they are at church. They would totally thank me, by the way. I have a good eye. And I could move cars out of parking spaces that I want! Even though parking is not an issue for me anymore! There’s plenty of parking here! And it’s free! Exclamation point! Oh, dear. These infomercials have really done a number on me.

But look at the guy! He’s so clean and happy and eager to unite you with an adjustable fulcrum. FULCRUM! I need to take a deep breath.

The Bad:

I guarantee you that this will tip over or catch on itself or just make your spice cabinet more confusing than it needs to be. Yes, I have a spice cabinet. As in, multiple shelves of faraway spices. Although I will say that the aspect that perhaps disqualifies this from the “bad” category is their suggestion that you use it to organize your many, many pill bottles. I have to take a lot of medication (to prevent Hulking Out and Excessive Mouthiness, which are the clinical terms thankyouverymuch), but I certainly don’t take enough to warrant a sliding organizer system to put a majestic assortment of pharmaceuticals at my fingertips. Not that I wouldn’t want to give it a shot, but… whatever. The Swivel Store is just lame.


The Ugly:

One of the most terrifying movies I’ve ever seen was intended as a comedy/social commentary but has actually become a future-vision documentary. I am talking, of course, about Idiocracy. Even dreamy Luke Wilson can’t take away from the fact that this movie is a chilling look at the way that we actually live today. Basically, people are total idiots. Presidential candidates campaign on platforms crafted of soundbites and non-facts. People will deep fry anything. The public spends countless hours watching total morons parade around on reality TV (okay, guilty as charged). And then there’s this:


I don’t even know where to begin. I never knew using a side/end/coffee table was so stressful! This product finally — FINALLY — allows you to relax. You can just sit there with your Mountain Dew and finally relax, not having to exert any energy whatsoever to move forward ten inches and reach your arm out to pick up or put down your beverage. I think, though, that my favorite part of this ad is the clip of the kid having a jumping fit while the Couch Coozy keeps mommy’s glass of box wine steady between the sofa cushions. What, exactly, is going on in that house? Why is the kid Tom Cruising it up all by himself while the wine sits unattended? What happened to his parents or guardians? Are they in the other room moving chifforobes around with the EZ Moves? Is dad out cruising the neighborhood wearing a pair of HD Vision sunglasses? Did mom lose consciousness after donning a pair of Miracle Socks? Thanks to Couch Coozy, Junior can snort all his ADHD meds (which he totally keeps in a Swivel Store, by the waaaay) and have a french fry freak out and no harm shall come to that glass of Two Buck Chuck. Whew. Idiocracy is now.



You can save your sofa, but it’s too late for your sanity.

Author: elizabeth dutton

i traffic in words

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