Diabetes Medication Commercials Are Biased

A Typical American Family Watching Television

A Typical American Family Watching Television

I read books. But I also watch television, and plenty of it. To say that I actively monitor and follow 46 television shows during the usual Fall to Spring television season would be no hyperbole. Forty-six! Do you know how much of that can be classified as hour-long? Seventy percent!! I track shows broadcast on network TV, cable, pay channels, and specialty package cable! So when it comes to having a finger on the pulse of America and a hand in a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, let’s just say I’m the freaking best. And being the best means navigating the entertainment world with a sharp eye, keen button-pushing reflexes, and the stamina of a Golden Glove winner. Seriously, try keeping up with even 10 shows a season and you’ll realize how much work it really takes.

Anyway, some of these shows I watch live, so I can’t perform the now-classic DVR Commercial Skip Maneuver™. It’s like I’m watching TV in 1999, and I get to experience television commercials the way the sponsors intended. Quiz me about Five Dollar Footlongs, Biz Stain Fighter, and soda swilling Ursus maritimus, and I’ll have your head spinning with my lightning-fast recall of advertising factoids. One thing I’ve gleaned from my incredibly obnoxious intake of television is that ads can come off a little biased against one group or another. Sometimes it’s a gender bias, like the AXE Body Spray ads where they depict hot women as complete nymphomaniacs who have somehow contracted Group Rapemind™ when they detect some layabout wearing AXE. On the flip side, commercials for almost every household cleaner, banking service, frozen meal, and color printer feature a shlubby guy ignorant about something and his attractive, smart, and confident wife comes in and teaches him a lesson and reminds him who really wears the pants. Just imagine an ad with ten dudes ripping off a woman’s clothes because she smells nice, or imagine a husband talking down to his dolt of a wife who didn’t know one doesn’t have to make appointments at Jiffy Lube. There would be rioting in the streets! Bias, and sometimes even extreme prejudice, can seep into the media messages.

Let’s not forget that famous 1997 vacuum cleaner spot where the one guy calls the other guy a faggot in front of his mother. By today’s standards, it’s hard to believe that ran for 6 months and won a CLIO.

Another thing I’ve noticed while giving in to my disturbing habit is that all diabetes medication commercials are extremely biased against people without diabetes. None of these ads talk about how the medication could affect individuals who have no need for it, which makes it feel like only certain people are targeted in these ads. Some spots talk about how you can get free blood sugar testers if you have diabetes and are on Medicare. What about the folks who don’t have diabetes, you say? Is there an avenue for them to get free testing equipment? You’d never hear about it in these commercials!

Of course, advertisers have certain demographics they want to reach. That’s why you normally won’t see Fruit By The Foot commercials during CSI: Miami and you won’t often see Cialis spots during reruns of iCarly. However, diabetes affects nearly 1 in 10 Americans, plus the 1 in 6 who are basically pre-diabetic, so I think everyone has a stake in folks getting all the facts. Something must be done against these biased commercials. You might say that if I don’t like the commercials, then I can turn the channel or not patronize the companies, but that sounds defeatist.

USA!The truth is racism in America isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s only growing and there is nothing we can do to stop it. But one thing we can do is get the word out to make everyone understand there is bias in our diabetes advertisements. I think we can agree all Americans deserve to be addressed in the spots, not just the ones with the illness. Once everyone is on the same page, we can begin to move beyond the dark age of diabetes medication commercials. So let’s all do our part make this country great again so I can get back to the newest episode of Burn Notice.

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Clean: My Battle With Sobriety

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of my new memoir, Clean: My Battle With Sobriety. My book recounts my vicious fight against sobriety, with all the peaks and valleys, laughter and tears, successes and failures. I’m proud to say I’ve been drunk for 49 months now and, while every day is difficult, I will never forget the journey of how I got here.

Chapter 4, Surgin’ Urge:

I was in a meeting with Ken, my boss, Roger, his boss, and Louis, our VP of Marketing and Sales. I was pretty buzzed, but being a long-practicing functional alcoholic allowed me dazzle Louis (as usual) with the new plans to saturate the Midwest market with our new outdoor and print campaign. But it was when Louis said to me, “Carmine, your ideas really feel like a breath of fresh air,” that I felt it. The tingle in the back of my neck was back after months of absence. That small voice in my head started to speak to me. Fresh air, it told me, can be enjoyed when you think clearly. I thought I pushed that voice back down, but now it was coming back more fierce than ever. Fresh air, bright skies, optimism, accurate tastebuds; the things enjoyed by a sober man.

I went back to my office and got ripped out of my mind on peppermint schnapps. I had to drown out that tiny voice, which I nicknamed The Urge because always urged me to make a change. The Urge started small, but they always gnawed away at me. I would resist, but eventually I knew I would succumb. The Urge to put down the flask or the bottle or the can or the NyQuil tugged at me. It felt like it would be so easy to give in and just enjoy a ‘normal’ day of waking up refreshed, eager to start the day, being exceptionally productive, establishing and maintaining relationships. I spat at the very thought. I woke up three hours later, my drool-soaked desktop portfolio beneath my face. I took two long swigs of the schnapps and straightened my tie. I decided to fight the Urge. If it wanted to come back stronger, I would fight harder.

That meant removing all temptation to keep alcohol out of my system. I cancelled my weekly racquetball game with Mike. I hired a housekeeper to come by twice a week so I wouldn’t have to worry about cleaning. I bought a second Kegerator to keep in the bedroom and upped the delivery schedule. I went only to 21-and-over rock shows to be sure I would be around people who drank. I kept my gym flask full at all times so I’d be ready to go after a workout. I sold my car so I wouldn’t be tempted to not drink because I had to drive somewhere. I created as many opportunities as possible to remove responsibilities and distractions so I could refocus my energies. The Urge would not let up, so neither would I.

But, as things go when you have a goal, sometimes the obstacles lead you to failures. I was at the office late on a Friday, working on copy for a Monday presentation. It was 7pm and I just finished off the last of my Chivas when I grabbed my coat to head down for a cocktail at Morton’s. With my office on the 42nd floor, I usually take the express elevator. That night, of course, I was drunk as a skunk and feeling saucy enough to take a regular car down. As luck would have it, the elevator got stuck between floors 17 and 18, the exact middle of the 6 floors that were completely empty because of renovations. My calls on the emergency phone went unanswered. My cell phone had no reception. Worst of all, my work flask was due for a refill.

I was stuck in an empty building on a Friday night. My drunken screams and banging went unheard. The anxiety of being trapped for potentially three days and the sweating due to the 80 degree heat in the car meant my buzz was completely killed in about 3 hours. The Urge moved right in, telling me I didn’t have to live like I was living. I could see the world with clear senses, I didn’t have to feel numb all the time. I should be able to feel my teeth all the time, It told me. I cursed the forced sobriety, and I cursed myself for finding it appealing.

I was in that elevator for 14 hours before security noticed a problem. It was another hour before I was home to funnel six beers in a row. The Urge had become so loud and nagging, and the beers quieted it only a little bit. So I pulled out one of my Power Hour CDs and played it twice. I blacked out until Sunday night, but apparently I performed one my signature standbys: downing half of each bottle in my 4J Cabinet. The 4J stands for José, Johnny, Jack and Jim. The Urge was at bay for awhile as I went back to my routine of screwdrivers at breakfast, a four-Bass Ale lunch, and vodka tonics with dinner. It was nice to relax into my routine, I always found a certain security and peace with it.

Little did I know that my constant benders would soon halt due to incredibly great news with my family. Not only did my brother and his wife announce the birth of their new son, but my favorite aunt married a fine gentleman and my sister received a huge promotion. All these personal triumphs for my loved ones gave me an intense joy, and I neglected the drink much more than I would have liked. It allowed the Urge to take over and tragically, I did not touch a drop of alcohol for three months. It would take some real reflection and determination to turn things around and push away the Urge once and for all.

Read the rest of Chapter 4 and the details of my heroic journey to complete alcoholism when Clean is released in Q2 of 2009, available wherever books are sold.

Say No to Anthropomorphic Animals

America is in a time of crisis. The economy is on a downturn, our men and women in uniform are dying overseas, and the NFL doesn’t start its new season for about 6 weeks. As citizens of this great country (sorry, illegals), we need to band together and keep our ideals strong, our hope alive, and our Olympic team drugged up to the high heavens. But more importantly, what we don’t need is bigger than all of that. Ladies and gentlemen of this great country, we need to stop all uses of anthropomorphic animals in our print, television, film, and interactive media.

Of the Devil

Of the Devil

These creatures are abominations, affronts to the Creator, who blessed us with intelligence, free will, and vocal cords. All creatures are beneath us humans because — let’s face it — we are at the top of the food chain. All animals have their own place in the chain, but none of them could convince us otherwise, because our brains are humongous and our opposable thumbs give us every advantage. If any of them had a case against not being eaten by us, their squeaks and clicks and quacks and barks fall on deaf and uncaring ears. We are superior, we rule this earth. So fall in line, marmots!

But for all humans’ superiority, intelligence and dominance, we do make mistakes. Some can be fixed and forgiven, others are unfortunate and permanent blights on our admittedly spotty track record of history. Human trafficking, the Holocaust, Urkel’s ability to command a 20 share in the early 90s. Through some dysfunction, there are sins we continually allow our brethren to commit. One of the worst ongoing atrocities we do is give animals human characteristics in our media. There is absolutely no goddamn need to come up with anthropomorphic animals to say or do anything worthwhile! Some are more extreme than others. Remember that Spanish-speaking chihuahua? Pretty minor on the scale of the things. But as their popularity increases, so does the scale of their personalities. The Geico gecko is Oxford-educated and could run circles around me in a philosophical debate about the human condition. That damn Aflac duck can only speak one word (less than the chihuahua!), but it drives race cars and pilots hot air balloons. What’s more, it once wrote a 556-page treatise on the founding of Jamestown. Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot let this continue.

Another Great Sin

Another Great Sin

There is nothing creepier than an animal speaking with a professionally trained actor’s, or Gilbert Gottfried’s, voice. These are the stuff of nightmares! This perversion of nature must end immediately. We have cartoons and illustrations to satisfy this dark desire to see animals walk and talk, don’t we? I mean, if I wanted to (and I’m not saying I ever did want to) see an animal hanging out with people and suggesting a particular cereal for breakfast, I can just find Tony the Tiger on YouTube. Beautiful, glorious YouTube. We have 2D and computer-animated films to take care of the rest. This is why we have Eddie Murphy!

No

No

I just don’t understand why that some people find it acceptable for animals to sing like the Beatles or Janis Joplin. If you are trying sell me a car, give me some hyper-reality and clever copy, not this shit. And while I understand animals mate and even form relationships, there is no way I want to think about my cat trying to seduce his feline girlfriend with a lit fireplace and soft music and talking about the place where they go the bathroom. And this just barely crosses over to the Devil’s work, as the gorilla is the best creature on earth next to us.

I think we need to look into our hearts and truly reexamine our values and priorities. Many animals, in general, are cute and lovable, but we are their masters. We cannot allow our brothers and sisters in the marketing department to keep this problem going. Boycott all products with anthropomorphic animal representation. Humans, not squirrels, need to advertise to us. Demand that a beautiful wife and a shlubby husband, and not dancing giraffes or singing pigeons, tell us about rock salt, frozen pizza and comfortable pants. We can get help for our human associates who believe this is acceptable behavior, but first we must turn away from the abhorrence they create.

Good luck, and may God help us all.