The End of the World (as we Knew It)

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It was the kind of choice that seems innocuous when first offered. But then, after having made your choice, you realize that there was no right choice. All choices were pointing you to your doom.

It came about because I like old TV shows. And one of the great things about the modern age is that a lot of those old TV shows are available free on-line. “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Addams Family” and “Magnum P.I.” and many more can all be seen, free of charge, anytime, day or night. I understand why the Sony corporation is closing down the factories where a lot of CDs and DVDs are manufactured.

Another great thing about this new way to watch TV is that sometimes it is commercial free. Sometimes, though, there are “limited commercial interruptions” (i.e. three minutes of show for every one minute of commercial, as opposed to the one-to-one ratio we see on the networks these days).

But now, here’s where the insidious part comes in. Say I’ve selected which episode of the classic television series “Green Acres” I want to watch. Before I can watch it, though, it gives me a choice. Two or three innocent-looking little thumbnails will pop up and they’ll ask me which commercial package I want to experience during my video.

Now, if this were a real choice, I might not be complaining (of course, I wouldn’t have a column for this week, either). If, say, they gave me a choice between watching commercials about trucks or make-up, I would choose trucks. If my wife were choosing, she would probably choose … well, she’d choose the trucks, too. But that’s not the point.

The point is that this morning I was given the choice of choosing one of two different packages of “Calvin Klein” commercials during my episode of “Green Acres” (“Eb Gets Married” was the title but, here’s a spoiler: no, he doesn’t). Little did I know when I made my choice that I was going to be a loser either way.

Remember when the Calvin Klein add featured a topless (but covered) Brooke Shields wearing jeans that looked like they were applied while wet and larger and then shrink-wrapped to fit and the caption, “Nothing comes between me and my Calvin Klein jeans”? As a high school boy at the time, I remember thinking, “Wow! Brooke Shields is wearing nothing but a pair of jeans! I hope the girls at school are dressing like that!” Now, as a much older person striving in vain against maturity, the mental imagery makes me think, “Brooke’s wearing jeans without underwear? Doesn’t that chafe something fierce?!?”

Today’s “CK” ad (so-named to make me think I was choosing between various ads for a new “Clark Kent” comic book) featured a bunch of hyper-active, hyper-unattractive young people performing what was supposed to either be an uninhibited dance or the last throws of someone in the grip of deadly radiation.

Every one of them looked like they had only been given a spinach-leaf-a-day as a ration for the last couple months, which I guess was the point. See, I admit (with some shame) that the point of the Brooke Shields add was completely successful to me as a teen: the wish they she’d take off the jeans. Eventually, Calvin realized it was not in his best interest to have it burned into people’s minds that his clothes were for NOT WEARING. This new crop of emaciated models are so revolting that they inspire the viewer to scream out, “Put some clothes on, you bean-pole!”

I expect what I saw today was just the opening salvo in the add campaign. Next, there’ll be someone coming on—maybe that deep-talking weirdo from the “GEICO” commercials—who will say something like, “Don’t these unfortunate young people need clothes? Call the following 800 number today and donate Calvin Klein clothing and iodide pills to them today!”