Open Letter to the Federal Communications Commission

July 30, 2010

Dear Mr. FCC:

What do we have to do to get you to stop allowing “adult” content commercials to air on network and basic cable channels during regular day and evening time programming?  This has gotten ridiculous.  I have 4 school-age children, so I try to DVR all the shows that we will watch, and then play them back so that I can fast-forward through the commercials.  But I don’t always have that option.  Here’s the scenario:

So, we are sitting in front of the television, all 6 of us, watching a family show, like–say–The Wizard of Oz.  We are eating popcorn, giggling and making jokes about the Cowardly Lion, and trying to have a Norman Rockwell moment, when a commercial comes on.  [Insert loud record scratch sound byte here.]

A middle-aged couple with slightly gray hair is sitting in their kitchen having dinner.  The wife strokes the husband’s hand.  Suddenly the walls come down around them, they are replaced by a bamboo hut, tiki lamps, and two bathtubs that sit out on the beach.  The announcer says that the “moment” has come, and like the husband, you too can be ready for this moment with Cialis.  While the couple begins to prepare for this “moment”, the announcer begins to state all the risks and problems associated with this drug, and warns that for an erection lasting longer than 4 hours, you should seek emergency medical treatment.  [Ahem:  Any attempt at subtle advertising has gone completely out the window at this point.  I can’t imagine being a 12 year old girl and seeing this “old” couple rubbing on each other and then hearing that the poor man may have an erection lasting more than four hours and have to go to the ER to get it fixed!]  The commercial ends with the couple sitting in their respective bathtubs, naked, holding hands and watching the sunset.

Now.  As a parent, you don’t want to draw unwarranted attention to this issue by racing for the remote and changing the channel.  So what I do here is begin talking very loudly to one of the kids or my husband, about nothing at all because it is such short notice.  It ends up being something like, “Hey!  Did anyone feed the dog today?  I bet she’s hungry!  Let’s all go feed the dog now!”  My kids must think I’m attention deficient because I will jump from one subject to another if the first one doesn’t take up enough time to fill this commercial space.  “I think tomorrow we should paint the house!”  “My feet hurt after all that walking we did today!”  “What does everyone want for supper tomorrow?”   

The show comes back on.  The next set of commercials will inevitably have an Extense commercial.  Poor Bob.  Everyone in town knows he’s ‘underprivileged’.  He took this pill and now everyone loves him.  Tasteless.  Truly.  I’m again forced to blurt out totally random things like a 36 year old woman with a temporary case of Tourette’s Syndrome.  But this one is harder to drown out, because it’s made to look humorous, which REALLY gets the kids’ attention.

Male enhancement and Erectile Dysfunction meds should not be advertised on television.  If they must, please limit them to late night programming, or during shows that are TV-MA rated, where it’s the parent’s choice whether their child is watching.  We do not have an option on our parental controls to block TV-PG programming that also happens to contain TV-Trashy commercials.  Also, I’m pretty sure than any adult male with ED problems is already aware of his options at this point.  He’s not going to suffer with this problem for years, then see one of these cheesy commercials and have an A-HA moment.  “Oh, My!  I had NO idea that the pharmaceutical companies have come up with a solution for this problem.  Thank you, thank you, magic black box for showing me the way.”

My personal preference would be that such advertisements be limited to magazines that a child would have no interest in reading and/or not have easy access to, and therefore not have to see them.  I’m not talking Playboy here.  I mean Better Homes and Gardens, Maxim, Men’s Health, GQ, Cosmo.  [Ever heard of a “Target Group”, Eli Lilly].

My complaint is not limited to ED drugs.  I also find completely inappropriate the following:  Hornitos (I hooked up with this hot cougar last night);  TAG body spray (Guy takes a shower with this miracle juice and steps out wearing a towel into a hotel hallway, to find two long rows of women in lingerie waiting for him to choose which one he wants); and Intense KY (A-ha moment being re-enacted by a couple while sitting on their bed).  This list goes on and on for us parents. 

I would concede that some of these commercials are funny.  I also thought that the movie Super Bad was funny, but I would NEVER sit down to watch this movie with my children.  I am given the option before hand with these movies to choose whether my children will watch them.   I am asking for the same types of options when it comes to television programming, which I pay for. 

These products clearly have their markets, and they should likewise have their markets when it comes to advertising them.  If the product is one that I wouldn’t leave lying around for my children to try, then it shouldn’t be advertised in a place that they will have to see and consequently wonder about trying it, either. 

And I shouldn’t be forced to make myself look like a jackass every 15 minutes while watching tv with my kids.




About zohrbak

Zohrbak is an old email username I had a while's a made-up twist on two characters from Spaceghost. Zorak and Brak. I'm a geek. I am a married, working mother of 4 children, ages 4-15. I also have interests outside of my children, but I can never remember what they are.
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5 Responses to Open Letter to the Federal Communications Commission

  1. Wendi says:

    Well spoken Zohrbak! I was thinking this exact thing last night, while trying to watch TV with my daughter. We were watching Goonies and they were advertising for Shark Week and it shows a couple sitting contently next to each other, goes blank/ insert large shark eating helpless little baby seal, and then they return with hair shuffled and clothes in disarray. & they wonder why MTV must have a show about 16 & pregnant (which I think is STUPID!!!) & what about the naked Centennial Wireless guy that is on every channel and billboards around town. Alex closes her eyes when ever he appears.

  2. NayNay says:

    Very well said!

  3. Pat says:

    You will surely be a hero after this one! Very well said. I have thought the same things since you were little and instead of cleaning them up, they are worse than ever. I used to cringe when you or Sheri had company and commercials about periods and sanitary napkins/tampons would come on, but I think that even be a bit tame compared to these days.

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