The ads on TV these days (or even in the radio and in the papers) are markedly different. First, copywriters now prefer presenting entire storylines in pushing a product. The ads have evolved into compelling narratives, fastfood fiction, and filmfest entries. Gone are the days when a simple line of engaging silliness will do, or a cute and catchy succession of no-good notes will do. It could be that the graduates of creative writing workshops have taken up advertising en masse, having an ad job as their odd job. Second, and even more notably, a great majority of the ads now are about health maintenance products that, oddly, make me feel guilty enough about my health so as to get sick.
The ads often employ the most wholesome and healthy-looking personalities of today, and they are successful in forcing me to pit myself against their looks and health or well-being. There's national hearthrob Piolo Pascual (or is that Sam Milby) wanting to be complete "from A to zinc," but unfortunately makes me feel so incomplete. There's Edu Manzano pushing a certain vitamin tailor-made for the 40-and-above, and I am automatically reminded I hate vitamins and will most probably get sick due to a certain vitamin deficiency. I also saw Kris Aquino or is that Boy Abunda (can't tell the difference, really) recently pushing in our face something for the kidneys. Instinctively, I worry about my blood creatinine level, and whether I have developed kidney stones from eating delicious foods: stuff with too much salt, calcium or uric acid. I am reminded of the ultrasound inspection I had last year, where the doctor couldn't find anything wrong with my kidneys yet she gave me Rowatinex capsules and an antibiotic anyway. I didn't, of course, follow the right dosage because I had a strong suspicion everything was stress-induced or could be the result of a hyperacidic herbal supplement I was already taking out of paranoia at the time.
The ads are all chirpy, happy-sounding, but edged with death threats. By their very nature, they force me to rethink life, think how fragile it is, how the age of mortality have steadily dropped since the time of Methuselah, and therefore, the darned ads can only be successful in ruining my mood by leaving me worried no end, to the point of losing sleep. To think all I wanted to do was have fun watching TV! There's Charlene Gonzales, for instance, innocuously pushing a Brazilian tree bark for additional source of strength, Tweetie de Leon pushing for sweepers of digestive tract dirt, et al. Despite the pulchritude of the endorsers, what they inspire in me, the viewer, are visions of deficits in health and well-being.
When the ads don't employ good-looking stars, they resort to employing news anchors and doctors -- perceived authority figures, health authorities! -- who, though not as drop-dead gorgeous or virile-looking as KC Concepcion or Robin Padilla, make me even more nervous enough to have a theoretical heart attack. I recently overheard GMA7 news anchor Mike Enriquez pushing something for the heart, and I think I instantaneously palpitated. I thought, how would I fare when I get old running out of that doggone heart enzyme?. (How'd you call that again?) Never thought there's such a thing as a heart enzyme before. Then I next saw this long-haired, thin-built, Chinese-looking doctor on some other night pushing some other thing for the heart, and I felt like I'd get a myocrdial infection. I swear I saw that doctor the other day with his S.O. at Greenbelt 3, and I was tempted to ask him whether he really believed in what he's pushing on TV and, just in case he's half-lying, how much he was paid for his expert endorsement.
Even seemingly harmless hallucinogens can induce me, the unsuspecting viewer, into fits of psychosomatic disorders. I happen to have seen in person the comely superstar du jour Judy Ann Santos twice when she was still plump, and I can tell the difference now that she's pushing Fitrum in our face together with Ryan Agoncillo. To be fair, she's already pretty charming then, even when she's nearing plus-size, but that only made her appear even more credible now as an endorser, what with that nice jawline that I swear wasn't there before. I actually saw her in person lately during one of the plays I watched at RCBC Theater, and guess what: she looked flawless from head to toe, reminding me of a newly invented need that I just have to buy just to be 'in': Fitrum capsules to burn the baby fats I have possibly left unaddressed.
[Sidebar: Ryan's hairdo when I saw him is equally worth noting. It has unique architecture. Part of his mane tapers like a horsetail on this side, and one side looks like barber's cut, and another side looks like something else. His hair has a different look each time it is viewed from a different angle. It's a hairdo that's apparently influenced by all that fashionable punk-emo vibe, but overall, the hair is one great sculptural work of art. I also think Ryan pulled if off because he doesn't look like an ogre. Can you do the same handsome abstraction for me, David Salon or Bench Fix? :-)]
Finally, one print ad features not one, but four doctors endorsing something against UV radiation, I think, and I thought: Geez, even a little exposure from the sun now can bring sure death and certain sickness. Evidently, our ads of today want all of us to have media-induced hypochondria.
(Oh, since you don't know what that word means, then here it is: "hypochondria (hī'pə-kŏn'drē-ə) n. 1. The persistent conviction that one is or is likely to become ill, often involving symptoms when illness is neither present nor likely, and persisting despite reassurance and medical evidence to the contrary. Also called hypochondriasis. 2. Plural of hypochondrium.")