Saturday 8 December 2007

The last time I looked at the telly

was sometime this summer, and there were ads on it for a kind of birth control pill that reduces a woman's periods to four times a year.

There were ads for viagra on mainstream tv, not just in your spam folder.

I was at a screening of old propaganda ads from the forties and beyond, at Barbes recently, a lot of fun-to-look-at images of bugs bunny and tap dancing starlets strongly selling war bonds during ww2, and there was one particularly memorable set of ads telling people what to do in the event of an atomic bomb blast. They should hide under the sofa, apparently, and put one hand over their eyes and the other over the back of the neck. So there were lots of images of people running into doorways in this recovery position, and leaping under beds, as the white heat of mushroom clouds ascended throughout the land. And the daddy of the family was always on hand to say, ok family, it's safe to go outside now. That radiation will have passed within ten minutes of the blast.


Well, this summer I saw an ad that seemed to be directed toward children, asking them what they would do in the event of a terrorist attack. And to the parents, have you educated your kids well enough? Does everybody know what to do? And it seemed to be left open ended, with overtones of guilt, that if you haven't instructed your children in the proper procedures for coping with a terrorist attack, that you were negligent as a parent, without actually giving any sense of the implications of what such an attack might entail. And truthfully, anything that any bureau of intelligence can come up with in this regard seems to be undermined with disturbing regularity, by somebody who's put a couple of cornflake boxes together and watched an episode of McGyver.

But the news is still the same: it's every man, every man for himself (and for his own family). Like the salt sprinkles out on the street. There are no city-sponsored common area trucks that go around sprinkling salt on the street, like they do in snowy weather in Denmark. This place is operating as a city of sole traders, functioning on its OWN. And it's ALIVE.

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