Things I’ve Learned From Late Night Infomercials

My sleeping pattern has been steadily returning to normal in the last two weeks, which is great for my overall stamina.  Nonetheless, insomnia still has a habit of occasionally slipping into my bed at night, and wringing her decadent claws around me (worse of all, she never bothers to leave any money on the dresser either, despite having her way with me all night.  What kind of a cheap skank does she take me for?).  In light of still having to bear the occasional case of sleeplessness, insomnia has given me a chance to become reacquainted with a long neglected friend from youth:  Television.

Yes, the internet has spoiled me, with its easy access and availability to high quality resources, is it a surprise how neglectful I have been towards that lonely square box complimenting my entertainment center (which is neither located in the center of anything, or provides much in the area of entertainment these days).  But now, I return to you, sweet, patient television, to give my restless nights some ease of mind.  Unfortunately, my time away from TV has made me unprepared to deal with the fact that a.m. programming is the abyss in which infomercials reign supreme.  Naturally, like any person eager to be bored into a comatose stupor (that ought to show that bitchy insomnia what’s what), I watched and allowed the spawn of consumerism’s unwanted lovechild with cheesy soap-opera’s dialogue to try and work its charm on me.  In this experience, I have picked up on a few seemingly important life lessons from these late night/early morning infomercial ads.

  • College is serious business!  Are you living in the United States, and can’t afford to go to college?  Don’t worry, despite that fact that low-income students qualify for government grants that don’t need to be paid back–and are usually enough to cover the bill to attend most modestly ranked, in-state public universities–what you should really consider as an adolescent with no credit history or real life financial experience, is taking out loans to attend a privately-run, online college.  According to the infomercials, even Brenda Walsh from Beverly Hills 90210 got a Liberal Arts degree this way, and if she can do it with her busy acting schedule, who are you not to?!
  • Baldness is a death sentence!  Of course, I have yet to personally appreciate the life-altering impact of male pattern baldness (though judging by my family album, I have a 50/50 chance of finding out all about it in the coming decade or two).  But if there is one thing that infomercials have taught me about this phenomenon, it’s that once a receding hairline begins, a man might as well start to contemplate how many years of his life he is willing to sell to the Devil just so he can retain enough hair strands to manage a decent comb-over.  The message is clear: if you’re not foaming it, transplanting it, or lasering it, you have metaphorically castrated your manhood to a perpetually phallic state of solitude.  Yet, having now been given this great insight into human sex appeal, I’m left wondering why the bald guy I share a wall with is (by the wall-piercing sound of it) still getting laid more than I am?  Also, is that aforementioned pact with the Devil in any way voidable?
  • Acne is a merciless cancer on society that Hollywood needs to defeat one Proactiv infomercial at a time!  Speaking as someone who went through his adolescent years with a moderate degree of pimples on his face, and who still wakes up to the occasional zit now and again (the battle for clear skin never ends, and takes no prisoners–damn it!), I can easily understand the sentiment behind this A-list celebrity crusade against the pangs of acne-laden skin.  What I don’t understand is why, if this cause is as important as the fancy graphics and voice-over narration is to lead me to believe, are young people with virtually no income of their own being asked to cough up $39.99 for a product whose main active ingredients is the same benzoyl peroxide you can pickup at any drug store for under five bucks?  Also, I can’t help but notice how far good lighting and a fair amount of foundation goes to *ahem* clear-up those celebrity faces.
  • Your soul’s salvation depends on your willingness to send money to some guy, who heads some obscure ministry, in some awkwardly named place in California!   For the longest time, I was under the impression that religious clerics had to undergo some kind of seminary training, or at least an apprenticeship of some sort (if that ends up being turned into a reality show staring Donald Trump on NBC, I swear to every conceivable deity and space creature that I will personally bring forth great wrath and vengeance upon the lands of the earth, and all its inhabitants…look I’m just saying, please cancel the apprentice already, it’s not even ironically funny anymore).  Apparently my suspicions were dead wrong, because all you need to offer pious counseling is a P.O. Box and vaguely threatening, thick eyebrows with which to pierce and guilt the very souls you are trying to save.  Sometimes senders are promised gifts for their charitable donations (though if you’re doing it for the free Gideon Bible, I suggest just swiping one from any motel room), but sometimes viewers are offered more urgent reasoning like, “Fool, it’s the end of the world, so do this one decent thing and send the money, or else…”  What else, you ask?  Who cares, man.  Do you want to take the risk to find out?  I didn’t think so.

The only thing that’s really worth asking now is how the mail-order prayers can be utilized to cure the acne menace of the young, the college finances of the slightly older, and the baldness of the even older?  This is just one of the many ways infomercials are bringing the lessons of life full circle, one sleep deprived mind at a time.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, Insomnia appears to have had enough of me for the evening.

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