American Life as Portrayed on TV

So, wow. We’ve been here for about 10 weeks and good gravy! Life’s

changed a lot here in the last 8 years. I keep hearing about how all these
jobs are being created and how unemployment is going down by 3% here
and 4% there and I’m not seeing who’s getting employed. Because, uh…
it’s not me. I wonder where the news anchors get their statistics. And I
wonder why the government seems to be content with continuing to
encourage the creation of these minimum-wage to $8.00 an hour jobs
when seemingly NO ONE can survive without public assistance if they
have a family on less than $3000 a month. I’m not talking about living
extravagantly. The only “extras” I’m talking about are internet service
(say $35/month) and flat rate basic unlimited texting and calling cell
phone service instead of installing a phone in the house (for 2 phones $80/
month.) The rest is rent or mortgage, utilities, car payment plus insurance
and at the end of the day, how do you feed the kids? It’s scary to me that
Americans still think that they’re “living the American dream.” I’m not
knocking America. I have lived all over the world and I don’t want to be
anywhere but here, really. BUT I seriously consider our “American dream”
to be more of a nightmare. I have to caution my kids not to jump out of
the swings on the playground because we don’t have health insurance.
They don’t actually get this. But the threat of having Mommy give them
their potentially needed stitches with the wound held over the bathtub so
they don’t drip on the bathroom rug instead of going to a lovely, clean
incredibly expensive emergency room usually has them at least slowing
down a bit before springing across the sky to tuck and roll through the
wood chips seemingly unhurt. And I still suck in my breath and clutch my
heart (and wallet) in fear each time.
We get ads in the mail and the free newspaper daily offering “great deals”
on some U-shaped thingy for 319 channels of cable t.v. in HD. What the
….? WHY do I want to see ANYTHING on television in High Definition?
Do I really want to make myself feel better because people in Hollywood
have blackheads like me? I KNOW this. But do I really want to SEE their
blackheads so…up close and personal? Absolutely not.
And maybe it’s just me, but have the number of late-night pharmaceutical
ads increased dramatically in the last 8 years? When I left only Bob Dole
was spouting publicly his “erectile dysfunction” issues. (Bob, I hate to tell
you but there’s nothing “dysfunctional” about fewer erections when you’re
in your 70’s. At your age, I would find a four hour erection resembling a
chin-up bar “dysfunctional.”) Now, the ads are during prime time and we’ve
got people practicing conversations with their doctors while walking downtown
about how they’re going to bring up the subject. If you judge by the t.v., it’s
such a normal occurrence that NO ONE should be embarrassed. I’ve seen
commercials for Viagra, Cialis, and now ExtenZe??? And I’m certain it’s
no accident that the favored “celebrity” spokesperson is a guy named Jimmy
Johnson. How do I answer my 9 year old’s questions about why these old
people keep going from painting their house or doing the laundry into a bath
tub naked in the woods?
Then the whole “depression hurts” thing. There are more medication commer-
cials that seemingly are the “answer” to what people have basically done to
themselves by taking advantage of our “land of opportunity.” While I don’t
disagree that there are a lot of opportunities to be had here in the U.S., I don’t
think people are giving themselves an opportunity to actually enjoy any of the
opportunities that they have. Perhaps I’m cynical. But you know, I’m not the
one taking depression medication because I’m living beyond my means, with
erectile dysfunction and extremely high cholesterol due to being depressed
about my erectile dysfunction and eating greasy expensive fast food that I
can’t actually afford.
Seems to me, if we look back to the way things were even 30 years ago, and we
have dinner around the table, whole, not pre-packaged, processed food cooked
by mom (or dad), and then play a board game together or read or watch Free-
to-Air television as a family, the number of pharmaceutical company ads, fast
food ads, stress levels, erectile dysfunction issues and perhaps even cost of living
could go down. Because those services would not be needed as much and people
would be just a little happier. Maybe I’m a little this side of Pollyanna.
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