Thursday, July 11, 2013
As Seen on TV
Frankly, The PC has always found absolutely everything about infomercials disturbing.
The loud, overly enthusiastic "hosts."
The expert/ inventor/ doctor/ make-up artist, etc. who has leased their name and/or professional reputation to the infomercial company.
The Blog has several dear friends who are now, or have in the past, put their names and reputations on the line for these late-night hucksters. Past results tend to trend toward the infomercial company fucking over the expert, etc. by the third quarter of their million dollar contract, when the product doesn't catch fire.
The disturbingly overly enthusiastic audience.
(Seriously. Who the fuck gets that excited about a food dehydrator or acne treatment, just so they can be seen in the TV audience? Who are these people?)
And, the just barely "A- List" celebrities, hanging on for dear life to their declining "Q Ratings," who jump on board with testimonials for the products.
Off the top of my head, here, I'm thinking Pamela Anderson, Cher, and Minnie Driver.
The current infomercial featuring Minnie Driver is promoting a product, that if it works as claimed, is some sort of fucking miracle, and the doctor that has lent his name and reputation to the product is a close friend of The Blog, and had damned well better hand over some free samples. If the product is all that it claims, The PC will be it's #1 cheerleader.
*End Disclosure #2*
But, when did "As Seen on TV" become such a thing?
And why should anyone give a shit that a product is worthwhile just because they have the budget to by air time?
The original seeds were planted back in the late '60s, early '70s, by companies called "Popeil," RonCo," and "K-Tel."
Way back then, the face of the original TV infomercial was Ron Popeil,
Salesman, investor, alleged inventor (although, I have my doubts.)
Son of businessman Samuel or Seymour Popeil, (there is conflicting documentation regarding his name.)
The thing is this...
All three of the above mentioned companies enjoyed a somewhat incestuous relationship.
Sometime in the 1960s the Popeil pere jumped into bed, business-wise, with the Canadian company K-Tel and it's founder Philip Kives to sell kitchen products like the "Slice-O-Matic" and the "Veg-O-Matic." Pre-cursors to modern food processors and the current infomercial throw-back...
Eventually, K-Tel moved into the record business, marketing recorded music compilations of all sorts, as well as record sorters and players, to the television viewing public.
In the late 1970s, The Blog owned a K-Tel Record Selector, a rack that used the "domino theory" to display record albums, one at a time, until his collection of vinyl exceeded it's twelve album capacity. At which time, The Young PC discarded it in favor of an apple crate that he liberated from a dumpster behind his local I.G.A. grocery store.
He also owned the K-Tel record "Goofy Greats" and probably a couple of other "novelty record" compilations, which fueled his future love for the work of novelty D.J. Dr, Demento.
*End Disclosure #3*
The spawn of the elder Popeil...
...followed in his father's footsteps and branched out with his own company...
Daddy must have been proud!
Ron appeared in most of his own commercials.
Selling, mostly, kitchen utensils and toys.
Every one, "The perfect Christmas gift."
He borrowed phrases from the state and county fair hucksters that came before him.
"How much would you pay?" and "But, wait! There's more!"
Most of his products were named "Mr. Something."
(Seriously? The Blog is not buying into anything called "Mr. Dentist." The Blog needs his dentists to be called "Dr. Dentist.")
The Blog is reminded of an old George Carlin line...
"If you nail two things together that have never been nailed together before, some schmuck will buy it from you."
And, who of a certain age, can forget Mr. Popeil's greatest innovation?
"Hey, good lookin'! I'll come back for you later."
Did this particular pick-up line work for anybody, ever?
The PC doubts it.
But, the man sold a shit load of "Mr. Microphones."
In the 1980s, the infomercial took it to the next level.
Full half hour (and, sometimes even hour long) "paid programming" infested the late-night and, even, weekend daytime, airwaves. And, later, our email inboxes.
Who is to blame?
The PC doesn't know.
It may have been Tae-bo workout guru Billy Blanks, make-up artist Victoria Jackson (not to be confused the with former SNL member and right-wing nutzoid by the same name,) or the noisy Aussie who is no longer with us, (may he rest in peace,) who rammed "Oxi-Clean" down our throats.
The fact is, the infomercial is now a ubiquitous reality in our culture.
We have, at least, two cable networks, "QVC" and "HSN" that depend on "B-List" celebrities like Joan Rivers and "celebrity experts" like former porno make-up artist Alexis Vogel to power their 24 hour programing schedule.
Credit card in hand, the insomniac, late-night viewers buy, buy, buy the crappy jewelry, cosmetics and chtotskies that they sell.
So, what was my point?
It was this...
In the last month or so, The Blog has purchased not one, but two, "As Seen On TV" products.
And The Blog is okay with that.
About a month ago, The PC found the "Topsy-Turvey Tomato Planter" at the "99¢ Only Store."
The Blog loves growing his own tomatoes. But, it's a serious hassle.
Tying up the vines kind of sucks. And, since his local grocery store now carries organic, heirlooms, why bother?
But, for less than a dollar, (if you don't count the $3.00 cost of the plant,) growing an heirloom tomato plant upside down seemed like a worthwhile investment.
The Blog thinks that the fact that a planter that was once priced at $19.99 is now being sold for less than a dollar is not a good sign. But, so far, his tomato plant seems to be thriving. I will let you know if it eventually bares fruit.
A ten foot hose that expands to fifty feet when the water is turned on.
So far, it seems like a pretty great product.
But, from it's very name to the reality of it's function...
Everything about the "Pocket Hose" feels like a sophomoric sex joke.
Short and wrinkled in it's flaccid state, it grows to five times it's original size.
The Blog could describe what happens when the "Pocket Hose" is "turned on. "
But, that description would read like bad "Mommy Porn."
The "Pocket Hose" is a good, no, great, product.
But, The Blog gets totally weirded out, every time that he uses it.