“We all have to go. So enjoy the go.” — the latest Quilted Northern toilet paper TV commercial
It was bound to happen once the American Bar Association started allowing lawyers to run TV ads. What passes for standards of taste when it comes to hawking various products keeps dropping with each passing year.
The Quilted Northern commercial is the latest in a long decline of TV commercials having any sense of decorum. While it isn’t vulgar per se it none-the-less directs your attention not simply to toilet paper but to the specific bodily function.
It’s not nearly as suggestive as the Trojan commercials that are now populating TV screens. And it certainly doesn’t seem as awkward as hawking feminine hygiene products or even male-related pills in prime time.
Nor is it as scary as the commercials for legal drugs that always have pastoral scenes with smiling people with a voice over talking how you can free yourself of whatever chronic infliction one has as long as you use their product. Then for the last two thirds of the commercial the voice over warns you that taking the product can cause blindness, loss of hair, certain types of cancer, sour throats, shortness of breath, heart attacks, insomnia, make one anti-social, increase the risk of suicide, severe itching, and – in extreme cases – death.
And all the time the voice over is telling you this happy people prance across the screen.
I know. I know. Stop being a prude, Wyatt. Turn off the TV if you don’t like it, Wyatt.
It’s just that it would be nice if some standard of civilization were kept in the nation’s public square which – whether one wants to admit it or not – is network TV.
As the broadcast networks argue before the Supreme Court that they are being unfairly held to a higher standard of decency than their cable cousins, keep in mind the path we will start going down should the networks prevail.
Yes, the Federal Communication Commission does impose arbitrary and excessive fines given the times but isn’t it nice to know there is at least something holding back the networks from pursing an anything-goes standard?
Standards of conduct may seem quaint to many.
There was a time when a woman ventured into a store in curlers or a man neglected to remove his hat in a restaurant it raised eyebrows. Given today’s sagging pants on guys and females shopping in PJs and slippers, a woman venturing out in public in curlers or a guy not removing his hat inside a dining establishment seems like they are putting on the Ritz in comparison.
Civilization will not collapse because a toilet paper company keeps pushing the limits on taste while using happy jingles. Nor will society implode because the airwaves are bombarded by men being encouraged to be ready “for that moment.”
Something, however, is lost. And that something is a sense of standards. One shouldn’t tell dirty jokes in certain situations – at least some of us believe that to be a reasonable standard any way.
But as we continue our downward trajectory on what is acceptable, be prepared for the continued desensitizing of people. We act stunned when someone does something we consider shocking such as spitting on someone else but what do we expect when we keep lowering the standards of civilized behavior whether it is how we interact with one another or how we market products.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.