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Editorials and Opinions

Hit mute button on junk commercials

By Denebola
Published: March 2008

By Mel Fineman

When I was little and my dad took me to the grocery store, we would leave with a cart filled to the brim with Hostess Cup Cakes, pudding, cheese puffs, and other sugary treats. The paper bags we toted home after these trips were the epitome of junk food.
But the truth is, despite spending loads of money on this food, my siblings and I never ate very much of it. The fresh-from-the-store Yodels remained sealed in their packages until that space was needed and cleared for the Annie’s Macaroni-and-Cheese that my family actually consumed.
Yet my motivation to buy foods like Dunkaroos was not that the name sounded cool; instead, I was driven to this consumerism by the ads for foods that I saw in between my daily doses of “The Rugrats and “The Wild Thornberrys.
Yes, even at the young age of six, I was a victim of the media. Whenever I saw anything on trusty Nickelodeon, – dolls, food, movies, Transformers action figures – I became mesmerized. I started to feel that my life could no longer go on if I did not get those Lunchable snack packs.
The mother of one of my closest friends actually bought all of the Kool-Aid and Kid Cuisine that they had seen advertised on TV. Needless to say, she seemed so much cooler than all of the other parents. I have since learned that these purchases were simply a parental strategy and tactic.
As a high school student, I no longer feel as drawn to television commercials. I may have developed a resistance to the numerous commercials, or maybe I have risen “above the influence.
Because of the intensity of my Newton South course load and various other activities, I no longer have three or four hours to spend watching Nickelodeon. My television time now consists of “American Idol DVR recordings. Even then, I don’t fully enjoy each episode because of other outside commitments.
Also, the newfound ability to fast-forward through each episode means that I no longer need to sit through commercials, impatiently awaiting the return of a show.
The majority of those ads are for Ford Focus, H&R Block, Jordan’s Furniture, and many other companies not necessarily on the high school sophomore’s mind. So far, none of these commercials have been awe-inspiring enough to motivate me to convince my parents to buy a new car or “get people.
The remainder of the ads are mainly for repetitive Fox shows. Ironically, some of the previews, like the ones for the reality show “Moment of Truth, seem so harsh that I actually feel less inclined to see the show.
Another reason behind media’s weakened influence over me is that the shows I enjoy are not directed toward a specific audience. From personal experience, a safe assumption is that Nickelodeon is rarely watched by anyone over the age of 13. With shows like “American Idol that attract viewers as young as seven and as old as 77, advertisers find it challenging to find commercials that appeal to spectators of all ages.
This gap might also affect my immunity to the media. Now, looking at the majority of TV watchers, I seem to be the exception rather than the rule.
Yet how much time would it save if you were to record that next “Idol episode – whether on TiVo or a blank cassette – and fast-forward through those commercials?
Keep things in perspective; know that despite being tasty, Orbit Gum will not resolve your fights, and that using AT&T will not eliminate dropped calls. Instead of mindlessly absorbing commercials while you anxiously await your show to return, take a bathroom break, or cram for that history test.
When you go to the supermarket, consider whether you will really eat those health bars – even if the commercial says they’ll make you lose XYZ pounds within one week.  Deciding against it will keep your bank account green, save time, and conserve energy.

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