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Ben Trovato

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The movie keeps interrupting the ads

Word on the street is that the advertising industry subsists on a diet of pure coke. Well, they like to pretend it is. But their coke, like everybody else’s, is cut with headache powder and a fabulous substance called phenacetin which is almost guaranteed to give your children an early inheritance.

I’d like to buy the world a gram and garnish it with frills,
Grow dagga trees and jail keys, and snow white mandrax pills.

Personally, I don’t give a gerbil’s bum if creative directors stuff crushed seal testicles up their nostrils. I do, however, have a problem when the substances they ingest results in the rest of us having to bear the consequences.

Television advertising has not only encroached so deep into programming that you think the blonde repeatedly washing her hair is a character in the movie, but it has also become more obscure, more demented, more … well, just more.

If the pin-striped product pimps are doing drugs to help them come up with wilder, crazier ideas, then the least they can do is provide us with different drugs to help us cope. Every time we renew our TV licences, we should be offered a year’s supply of the neuroleptic of our choice.

I’ll take the Thorazine, thanks. It helps with mania and depression, illnesses common among those who are too lazy or too stupid to hit the mute button when the commercials come on.

I tried to watch a movie on Sunday night. I have no idea what is was about, because for every five minutes of movie, there were five minutes of people screaming at me to buy a new car, change my deodorant, drink something else and vote for the ANC because the department of housing is committed to providing slums for all.

A woman with glycerine eyes showed me how easy it was to get chocolate, grass, egg yolk, engine oil and blood stains out of my sheets. Grass stains? Blood? What goes on in that house? In my day, semen and wine stains were about as bad as it got.

This was followed by a phalanx of freakishly fit athletes performing all manner of life-threatening activities. Just Do It. That’s how the ad ended. And that’s how my life would end if I had to emulate any one of those pumped-up narcissists. Nike’s message could just as easily have come from Dove’s Funeral Parlour.

My palpitations had barely subsided when a silver car came rocketing out of a river bed, up a mountain, down a cliff, through the sea and along a beach. I was told that dozens of motoring journalists had voted it car of the year. I wasn’t told that motoring journalists would sell their mothers on eBay for a prawn cocktail and two bottles of whiskey.

Just when I thought the movie was about to come back on, the screen was filled with half-naked women cavorting and carrying on as if the world were suddenly free of men. Were they celebrating the end of genital mutilation in Somalia and Sudan? The end of death by stoning for committing infidelity in Iran and Saudi Arabia? Not likely. They were celebrating the end of dry skin.

I was suffering from dry throat, so I went to the kitchen to fetch a fresh six-pack. In the time that it took me to pick the lock on the fridge, I missed the next five minutes of movie and returned just in time to see a woman coughing like she had tuberculosis, which was impossible because she was white. A voice told me to speak to my pharmacist. Then she keeled over onto the bed. Dead? I hoped so.

Cut to a man stroking his unshaven chin. Not unshaven like a homeless man. Unshaven like a man who has been too busy negotiating a good price for Phuket to bother about shaving. Thais screwed and deal done, our hero reached for the hydrogel nanoparticles that would leave him soft and smooth and ready for the next hostile take-over.

By now I had forgotten what movie I was watching. Oh, look! A Formula 1 racing car has just pulled in to a petrol station, filled up and roared away! This is clearly the car to drive if you want to avoid having to wait for a surly attendant to finish his chicken curry pie and get off his fat bum to ensure that you miss your appointment by washing your windows and dropping your change. Fade to black.

Fade in: Sars (the revenue service, not the disease) grabbed my attention next with a low-budget message that small businesses still had time to burn their books and apply for amnesty. The soundtrack sounded like prison doors slamming.

Then the movie came back on. A giant anaconda was eating someone, but it no longer mattered. The taxman’s ad had captured my imagination. Confession by the capitalist, absolution by the authorities. It sounded too good to be true. Reconciling your sins to God is one thing. Reconciling your bank statements to Pravin Gordhan is something else. While I was busy smelling a rat, the anaconda ate an entire village and waddled back to the murky waters of the Amazon.

A man in a white coat looked me in the eye and recommended that I use a particular brand of toothpaste. Then he urged me to visit my dentist regularly. He said it would put the smile back on my face. But it won’t. My face will be numb for days. It is his face that will be smiling.

Open your mouth in a dentist’s chair and the first charge incurred will be R20 for infection control. And when your dentist takes his annual holiday in Bangkok, he will convert this into 100 baht’s worth of condoms. And so you end up paying for his infection control too. (because Yahoo helped China jail a journalist)


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sarah</a>
    August 22nd, 2007 @13:41 #

    Ben, I'll have you know that I am a Coke Light addict.


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