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Garrison Ebie

Most people get their kicks watching television during prime time. They watch all the Emmy Award winning shows like “House,” “Lost” and “Boston Legal.” They watch cartoons with blood and gore. They watch reality shows. Most people drool over what’s in between all the commercials.

But not me. I crave for what everyone avoids. I love the despicable. Midnight to 5 a.m. is my personal sweet spot on the couch, the only time I watch the tube. You’ve got The Snuggie, The Gazelle, ShamWow, Mighty Putty. It’s all there! I watch television – for the infomercials.

The actual definition of an infomercial is sketchy if not impossible to explain. In this case, I’m referencing those television spots offering over-the-top merchandise that one could argue makes life just a little bit easier. It’s the kind of stuff you have to be actively convinced by trained sales professionals to really want.

Sometimes these take shape as an hour-long program in the middle of the night, and sometimes it might be a quick advertisement with an anything goes mission to simply get the viewer’s attention. Specifically, this is a product with the tactics of “Head On: apply directly to the forehead.”

Believe it or not, the entertainment value in these things is incomparable. You can’t find quality like this anywhere else. Be it the hour-long spots ending up on the Science Channel or the short one-minute commercials fitting right between compelling ads from Ford or Chrysler. It all goes great with a box of Cheese Nips and an appetite for the ridiculous.

With the correct sense of humor, it’s easy to laugh simply at the fact that any of this crap actually exists. Don’t be fooled, none is even potentially necessary. For example, why on Earth would I purchase the Snuggie, a blanket with holes for my limbs that makes me look like I belong in a cult? I already have blankets. They work fine. And if I bought any woman a PajamaGram for Valentine’s Day, I would not expect anything more than a cold night alone as punishment for giving such a thoughtless gift.

Although many of these products are relatively pointless, some, like the ShamWow, continue to impress me. I like to wipe things up in the kitchen. I almost want to believe this rag would solve some problems, but I’m still not convinced. After all, what’s up with the headset that guy wears the whole time?

Mighty Putty? I don’t think I need any, but damn it, Billy Mays can pull a semitruck with it! What’s not exciting about that?

Don’t forget though, if you call in the next 20 minutes, not only will they give you an extra tub at no additional charge, but you’ll even get something else completely unrelated absolutely free!

Infomercials and other short television spots which shamelessly exaggerate tacky products have been around ever since the major networks chose profit over quality. In other words, they’ve always been there in one form or another. But why does it seem like there’s so much more of these now?

I’m not sure how many people know about this, but there’s a rumor going around that our economy is in a recession. Large companies cut back advertising dollars, television stations lowered rates, and inevitably the only thing left to sell is a lower tier of products geared toward gullible couch potatoes with a credit card.

In fact, remember Saturday morning cartoons on Fox Kids? They’re gone. Check out Saturdays from 10 a.m. until noon and see that it’s a consistent two-hour stretch of pre-paid advertising. Children’s programming may have become quite awful in the last decade, but depriving kids of their cartoons gives them no excuse to wake up early on a Saturday. No one is supposed to wake up at noon until his or her early teens.

However, no matter what you need to do, it seems like one of these products will make it easier. You can cut onions easier, patch up holes in the wall faster, be more agile with a blanket, unclog the drain faster and have the convenience of an entire weight room inside your living room. All of this and more for just a few small monthly payments of only $29.99.

With such convenient lifestyles we enjoy, is it not too much to sit back and consider that before that revolutionary kitchen cutter became available, regular knives might have been just fine? After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Sometimes all we have left to do is chuckle at the absurdities of everyday life. The advertising world continually keeps me on the tips of my toes wondering what crazy revolutionary combination of plastic will come out next. So next time your senses get flooded with a convincing case that you should buy something, try not to be annoyed. Instead, dwell on the issue for a moment and think, wow, this is actually kind of funny.

Contact Garrison Ebie electronic media production major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater at [email protected]