Sunday, February 01, 2009

America: Brought To You By Erectile Dysfunction

I've shied away recently from the typical us vs. them comparisons of the UK vs. US - for many reasons, not least of which was the whole all-consuming gestation/birthing/newborn thing. 

Oh that

Mainly though, it's because I'm growing increasingly aware that I haven't lived in the UK for nearly fifteen years now, and the England I rhapsodise about may or may not exist anymore, so it would be a little dangerous to say 'we Brits don't have plastic surgery before going out for breakfast', when for the last 14 years people in Rotherham may have been doing just that. Although, Jesus Christ, tell that to any American who - to a man - still expects us to have tea at 4pm, wear bowler hats, shirk at showers and flee from physical intimacy. Not me! I love intimacy, particularly in showers! wearing bowler hats! at 4pm! - which is probably how I ended up with the whole gestation/birthing/newborn thing.

I digress.

Legitimate comparisons can be drawn though when you have real-live Brits visiting (seriously depleting my stocks of tea bags and marmalade let me tell you.....). It's only then that you realise things oh, for example, like there are no commercials for erectile dysfunction on at three in the afternoon in North Yorkshire. 

Not judging by the stunned look on my Dad's face anyway. 

Visitors to the US come prepared for endless commercials, for adverts running between the opening credits and the show starting (WTF?!), for 'this show brought to you by the makers of ' -  but then I'd noticed Coronation Street was 'brought to you by Cadbury's' last time I was home. Clearly the UK is making up some ground with gratuitous advertising. What I hadn't considered, was the difference in content, the appropriateness of material that is shoved down your throat (pun intended) each time you turn on the TV. Erectile dysfunction (ED), male enhancement, that itch you can't scratch, embarrassing odour, frequent urination, may not protect against sexually transmitted diseases - thanks to DVR and a heavy work schedule I've been blithely unaware of how many really inappropriate messages are being launched at us during daytime TV. Perhaps not so inappropriate if you're watching Oprah whilst experiencing embarrassing odour - probably quite common - but, not so good if you've got a houseful of relatives sipping tea, having some ginger lemon cremes and playing go fish with your 3 y ear old.

 "Please see your doctor if you experience an erection lasting longer than 4 hours" counsels the TV, - "Well, yes, I would hope so" answers my Dad. Obviously I've been tuning these adverts out, but to Mum and Dad they are new, so they're picking up on it, and asking why there isn't a watershed for this kind of advertising - after 9pm perhaps? - which makes me more aware of my 3 year old sponge sitting there, soaking it all up. She's already asked me 'if I want to get more for my money', and whether we 'use Chlorox', I suppose it's only a matter of time before she starts asking her paediatrician about that 4-hour erection she's been experiencing.

13 comments:

NFAH said...

The first time I visited the UK I watched the evening news and then saw a graphic breast reconstruction AND vaginoplasty on some plastic surgery show at 10:30 pm, on broadcast television. This was about 2005. Yes, I watched it, it was like a train wreck (and I work in a medical field so it was not too odd...) but really, much worse than commercials for ED!!!

Expat mum said...

NFAH - I think the point is that here, these bloody commercials come on at about 5pm on the major channels, when your 5 your old (or whatever) is sitting within ear shot. Anything after their bed time is fair game, but really...

And Ali - you are needed over at the new blog (Pond Parleys) to give your opinion on exactly this type of discussion.

Hyphen Mama said...

I'm born and raised in the US and I swear like a sailor (out of ear shot of my children). That said, I am appalled what kinds of things are on the major networks between the hours of 12pm and 9pm. Dr Phil, Oprah and the 4 o'clock news are all banned in our house, because apparently the demographic watching them warrants THOSE commercials all afternoon.

But I'd pay money to have seen your parents' faces!!

Lucia's Mom said...

Hilarious! Although the first show I watched in Oxford after getting my tv (and tv license!) was a game show that showed you pictures of 4 blokes faces, and then 4 penises and you had to match the body part to the face. I'm not making this up and I didn't have any extra Sky tv channels or anything.

(Apologies to your parents if they read the blog!)

ExpatKat said...

I totally agree Ali. I've wondered many times whether they've ever heard of a watershed here, but I guess that's what Pbs is for.
The commercials that really got me were the ones for medicine. I'd never seen ads for prescription medication before and couldn't believe them.Frankly, after hearing of all the potential side effects (spoken very fast in the hope you'll miss them)I wonder why anyone goes to a doctor at all!

Trannyhead said...

I loathe the pharmaceutical commercials. The US and New Zeland are the only two countries that allow pharmaceutical ads and out of those two, NZ is trying to ban them. I wish the US would get a clue and ban them, too ...

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