Generally on programs I like to watch, the commercials are for health products for the elderly, interspersed with “Personal Injury” attorneys promoting “Class Action” suits” against those health products that, despite an overwhelming litany of disclaimers concerning their side effects, overlooked a possibility that made you unexpectedly sicker.
PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY: “If this pain relief medication made your nose fall off, call this number, and we will get you a new nose!”
Recently, however, I have found myself offended in an entirely new direction.
There’s a break in the action on Law & Order: SVU, as time is running out on finding an imprisoned youngster before they succumb.
We are then presented with an actress I am supposed to recognize but don’t, hired primarily, it would appear, because she has the biggest, saddest eyes in physiological existence.
This record is instantly shattered when they cut away to a large, forlorn-looking dog whose humongous eyes, if possible – and it apparently is – are even sadder than hers are.
The viewer is now left, looking at this dog and listening to this actress, whose quivering voice matches the hopelessness in both of their eyes.
What the actress is asking is that we send money to the ASPCA, so that these dogs can be fed, and consequently not have to go through the “door” that they showed us in Lady and the Tramp.
My immediate response is not to reach for my checkbook, but, instead, to remote away to another channel, to catch a snippet of a ballgame, or some ripsnortin’ action on the Westerns Channel. I would even settle for House Hunters International – anything other than watching a sappy woman making me feel bad for not feeding a dog.
Calculating when this unbidden moroseness will be over, I switch back, hoping to see Olivia with a flashlight entering an abandoned warehouse going, “Miranda? Can you hear me?”, only to discover that the “Save the dog” commercial is still running.
I have forgotten that cable stations have longer commercial breaks than their network counterparts, whose interruptions, over the years, I have conditioned myself to avoid. (I pride myself in switching back precisely when the program is coming back on the air.)
Cable “commercial blocks” are different. I have experienced them going up to five minutes, touting the virtues of a more flexible garden hose. This completely messes with my timing. In this case, come back too early, only to be re-accosted by a still talking “Sad Girl” saying,
“No dog should be treated this way.”
Accompanied by a canine prisoner with desperately pleading eyes.
I feel ambushed. There I was, being thoroughly entertained by a sex crimes story, and suddenly, there’s this terminally sad dog monopolizing my television screen. With a woman telling me that, if I don’t do something to help him,
It’s my fault!
This is not the first time I have found the “guilting” approach to fundraising to be eminently counter-productive. I recall receiving a solicitation-for-money letter from an “Anti-Gun” organization which began,
“Bobby was alone in the house…”
Well we all know where that’s going, don’t we?
And again, it is less than subtly implied, if I don’t send them money,
I may as well have pulled the trigger myself!
I have to tell you, despite the possibility of seeming uncaring, for me, this strategy does not come remotely close to hitting the target. In fact, its effect is exactly the opposite than the one I am certain was intended.
Out goes the “Gun Control” letter.
No money for the weepy dog.
(I don’t know if they put drops in their eyes, or find dogs without hope. It does appear they use big dogs because, the bigger the dog, the bigger those urgently imploring eyes.)
Bottom Line: I resent people shaming me, and telling me how to feel. A more productive alternative: Give me the facts, and let me think for myself.
Okay then, think for yourself. Just because a solicitation for money is gratuitously manipulative, does that mean you have to take it out on the dog?
What does “………………………………” mean?
I’m thinking about it.
You did not see that coming?
Though I am in here with you, I can honestly say that I didn’t.