Bill Maher, the Snuggie, Extenze and the American Psyche
Do you know what the Snuggie is? I wouldn’t have known if we hadn’t watched A Fistful of Dollars on AMC a few weeks ago on a cold and snowy Saturday night. Almost better than the camp of Sergio Leone‘s spaghetti western classic, were the array of “you’ve gotta be kidding me” commercials.
Standouts include Extenze penis “enhancement” capsules and the Snuggie, which is a blanket with sleeves that, “leaves your hands free to use the remote and have a snack” (or perhaps another activity if you’re also an Extenze customer). In addition to these fine products, there were advertisements for bankruptcy and foreclosure attorneys, credit card attorneys, no exercise required weight loss pills, and cash for your old gold, jewels, and coins, “Mail us your jewelry and we’ll send you a check.” I repeat, you’ve got to be kidding me.
At first, we laughed so hard we nearly choked on our beers. Then we tried to figure out who the AMC programmers think their target audience is and hoped that we weren’t among them. Apparently, AMC’s target audience is broke, overweight, lazy, gullible and suffering from a collective case of erectile dysfunction and inadequacy issues.
If advertisements are a barometer for our fears, dreams, needs, and desires, then the roster of commercials AMC and other cable networks serve up is pretty alarming. These ads symbolize our wish for quick and easy fixes to complex problems in the forms of “natural” supplements and lawyers who can “get money for you.”
Enter Real Time with Bill Maher. I’ve been a fan of Maher‘s for years. During his New Rules segment this week he mentioned the Snuggie—yes, the Snuggie. My first thought was, “I wonder if Bill was at home getting stoned watching Eastwood like we were at home having a few beers? Hey, maybe we are the target audience!” But then I listened to what Bill had to say:
He’s spot on in this closing monologue. However, the Snuggie isn’t like a giant bib. It’s like a giant baby bunting that represents our childish, unrealistic desires to be taken care of and to have some parental authority figure handle life’s issues while we nurse and entertain ourselves.
It’s time for us to step up, to be accountable for our choices and to quit blaming others for our problems. It’s time to stop waiting for a grown-up to come along and “make it all better” and become the grown-ups. We have to be the ones to make it better and stop outsourcing our personal responsibilities. Enough already.
by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
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