Sunday, July 30, 2017

My TV Doctor Says I'm Sick, Are You?

Gone today but one of earliest memories
of a TV ad was Bucky Beaver and Ipana 
toothpaste! I never got to use it asmy Mom 
used some nasty stuff with baking soda in it!

I don't know about you but maybe the 50's were the golden age of TV, not only the shows but the ads. It was an exuberant time where the worries of WW II were over, the Depression was gone and despite the "conflict" in Korea, America was safe, or relatively, and at work again. People had money in their pockets and they wanted the life they had seen in movies during the 30's and 40's.
In a smoke free obsessed society, can you
imagine seeing ads like this ... anywhere today?
Junk food was one of
the many such ads we saw
   AND, while TV was in its infancy items for sale did not include a variety of items that we see forever on TV now. Depending on the show you are watching today, the older you are, the stream of medical ads increases exponentially. Watch JEOPARDY sometime.
   Ads fueled the explosion of TV. If you watched MAD MEN, advertising in its way chronicled the rise of network TV, so you have an idea of what happened. They pretty much got it right too. As the years went by though so did the style and type of advertising.
   There wasn't much hard liquor allowed and no one could be seen drinking a bottle of beer. I'm not sure they can today. I don't drink the swill advertised on TV so I really don't know. So many other sabbeliths have been broken, too. Remember when the Smothers Brothers got kicked off for saying "damn?" There are few blue words not heard on any TV show today. I know of one or two and wait for them to be uttered soon as well.
When was the last time you called a car "SASSY?"
Compared to the dull black, silver and white cars
of today, automakers weren't afraid of color or tail fins.
 The other big prohibition in the 50's to 70's was prescription drugs of any kind. Oh sure there was aspirin, Alka Seltzer with Speedy but nothing else. Nothing! The other big taboo was allowing lawyers to advertise. Sensing a gold mine in them thar hills in medical land and shady law offices around the country (watch daytime TV someday - its a goldmine for lawyers) they begged and whined, spent money on lobbyists to convince the FCC the people wanted this. I don't know what people ... do you? In fact today, at least 50% of all TV ads are for some kind of medicine with diabetes meds at the head of the list. After they list all of the complications you can expect if you take them, it gives you pause ... or it does me anyway. I  don't think I want to take any of them.
The blue pill of happiness?
   Along with the addition of ads for say Viagra, topics never, ever, talked about in polite society, the icons of commerce were replaced by Amazon. Catalogs from Sears, Montgomery Wards, J.C.Penney's disappeared from our homes both printed and are rarely seen on TV. I can remember poring over the Sears Christmas catalog as a child. Today grandchildren let their fingers do the walking on their keyboards while cruising through Amazon. Brick and mortar stores are feeling the pinch.
A newer form of blood thinner, its supposed to be "better"
but maybe not in my case.
   In fact I long for those ads, those catalogs and going to the doctor and discussing my medical needs. Now, many of us go to our doctors armed with notes or "free" brochures explaining medical conditions we think we have or needs we just have to have the doctor proscribe for us. I ask, are the TV ads we are pummeled with to our advantage? Is this one of the reasons we have the highest prescription costs in the world?
   My father died at 40 from a pulmonary embolism (PE). This is a condition that causes your blood to clot, the exact opposite of hemophilia where you bleed at the drop of a hat. In 1962 there was no medicine he could take. When I had my first PE at 55, I was 2,000 miles from home. I had inherited this from my father. After several tries to use aspirin as a blood thinner, a second major PE put me on generic Warfarin for life. I learned to test myself, watch carefully for foods with Vitamin K, a blood thickening factor and avoiding other foods that reacted violently with this medicine. I tested myself every week, sometimes more if my blood got to thick or too thin. When the first new replacement  treatments were available I went in armed with the TV "facts." My doctor was Asian and rarely smiled. Armed with my new TV facts, he sat down and looked at me, never a good sign. "Well," he began, "we can change you if you like. You don't have to test often and can pretty much eat anything you want. However, if something happens to you, there is no antidote and unless they can hook you up to a dialysis machine you will bleed out. It takes about 15 hours for the medicine to work its way out of your system. What would you like to do?" Goggly eyed I told him the Warfarin was fine. He gave me a faint smile, patted me, asked if I had enough medicine, I did, and made an appointment for a 6 months checkup.
With stenosis of the back and having had
spinal surgery myself, I can easily see
the allure of ads such as this. But
should we use them?
Amazing how the styles from the
50's are making a comeback in the
21st Century.
    I can't help but wonder if all these ads on TV are good for us. Is there such a thing as too much incorrect information? While I do believe that often we need to be our own advocates, I also wonder if we should let the doctor do their job and if necessary get a second opinion. I don't believe getting that second opinion should be taken from TV. I long for the days where the kinds of wares we were sold included some new furniture, appliances, interesting trips, hair products, floor wax, cleaners and laundry detergent and the like. Really, weren't those the days? Where did the soaps go?
   I do know that what we are being exposed to is a dangerous trend and in many ways, I can't believe the FCC and FDA allow such advertising being made to a public that is not a doctor or nurse, people that have no experience with many of these drugs and dealing with their illnesses think these ads are the answer to a better life. As it is we can get probably too much dangerous information on the web ... now compounded by ads that appear everywhere ... TV, pre-movie showings, billboards, and just about everywhere on the internet. I even see them on my iPhone! While I never, ever look at them, you can't help but be exposed to them.
   So I ask, my TV doctor says I'm sick and this new, better, improved medicine will make me better unless of course the 30 seconds of bad reactions don't lay me even lower than I already am. So, are you sick too?

Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always has. I share with you what inspires me with the hope that it will inspire you as well. Comments are always welcomed! Be sure to check my re-opened ETSY store ... Many of the items talked about here are for sale there! I promise there are no medicinal items for sale there. 

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