“With No Malice”©2012
A General Interest Opinion Column by an opinionated person.
Vic Topmiller Jr.
“Dim Damn Demographics”
So, Who Do You Trust?
“Truth – Not having to guess what a candidate means.” Gerald Ford.
I thought I was rather clever—I have always been suspicious of advertising. At one time it seemed that advertisers would promote a product by telling a great deal of truth about the product while staying away from the meat of the issue, as in, “Take two pills in the morning, and you will be over the flu by noon.” Don't I wish? But what they rather cleverly do is talk about testimonials and possibilities in such a way that although they doubt seriously (or even care) whether there is any real power in their potion, it leaves a person thinking that there is a real possibility that this mess might work. A person on their back with pain and sickness has a tendency to buy into the biggest fraud.
Dona and I watch a lot of old westerns and classics. It's always fun to see the medicine show come into town. The show and theatrics gathers a crowd and before long, the crowd pressed around the brightly painted horse-drawn pharmaceutical of ill repute, brings out its magic potion of 40-proof liquid fire enhanced with nondescript herbs and prune juice or whatever was available along the way. The medicine man, dressed in fine feathers and other array, toting bottles of the industries finest, (?) begins his harangue about the power—mystical and magic powers of this concoction in a bottle, that would heal and cure virtually everything that ailed a person, from gout, rheumatism, constipation, broken bones and broken hearts, lice, bedbugs, dandruff, including innumerable diseases and afflictions, not yet declared by the emerging medical industry, inclusively including a mother-in-law that refuses to stay in her side of the house.
I think there really were medicine men in those days, why not? No TV or other entertainment. If nothing else, the stuff was 40 Proof, and if it had enough room left for an adequate portion of prune juice, it would surely cure the constipation.
I wonder, did the folks really believe the stories or did it not matter to them? Or just maybe, it was the best they had and when we are desperate we do foolish things.
Most folks, (maybe all) have a TV in the house. What is a TV but a big medicine show that doesn't have a “tongue and double tree” to hitch the horses to. I think TV is great, but do you really believe even one-half of what is presented to you. Isn't what's presented to the watcher divided into halves? One half to make the watcher watch and the other half to make you believe whatever the agenda is. Whether they're selling snake oil or politics, the advertisers pay big bucks to get your attention and lay things out for you slanted in such a subtle way for you to absorb the propositions in a favorable way sympathetic to what they are promoting.
Do this, if you don't already. Watch the TV, as though you are the brains in the crowd, and you know that a large percentage of what you see and hear will not be accurate or honest or even in your best interest. In other words, make like you are the filter of reliable facts and the censor of honesty in advertising. Watch and listen closely to everything that is said and mark the tricks and half-truths that are used for selling products. Say to yourself: he made a statement; the statement approached the product, but fell short of obligating the advertising to warrant the product in a conclusive way.
Or another one—he told me the right and wrong of this political position but never made a clear statement of exactly how it came to be, who started the move, who will clearly lose and who will clearly win, or even why I should believe that he had the background or authority to make these statements, as well as many of the statements.
But even if you get that much clarity in a product ad or political statement, you will be lucky. We have become (well, not you and I) so programmed to think and see in virtuals that products are mostly sold through innuendos rather than facts. For instance, here we see this bright, fancy car. The camera pans around all four sides, showing fancy tires and wheel covers, rich paint. Then into the interior—deep-cushioned leather upholstery and monogrammed floor coverings. It pans to the dash, covered with instruments and gadgets, with GPS navigation, satellite radio, satellite telephone, parking and backing enhancements and at-the-ready controls. Then, it shows the car driving down the road at a high rate of speed, leaving cars of other manufacturers well behind, loaded with youths who could hardly afford a bicycle in the real world laughing and enjoying the good life that you and I could have if we would only sign here. Not once did we see a statement that said this car is better because the warranty is better or that the car will last longer because of undercoatings and preservatives and that it will leave other cars behind because it has the biggest supercharged engine in the industry.
Which gets us to where we are in this country. Maybe the world. There is little honesty or integrity left. There is precious little left for us to count on as accurate. Dishonesty has become so prevalent that we have given up on consequences and holding the liar accountable. Every statement we hear has to be evaluated on the rule of “What's he gaining behind the scenes?”
It's a shame to waste so much of our productivity time dwelling on a topic like this, but listen well, we either get integrity re-established in our country and learn to insist on consequences for people who lie and cheat, or the rest is already lost.
“Truth – The secret of eloquence and of virtue, the basis of moral authority; it is the highest summit of art and life.” Henry F. Amiel.
That's My Opinion.