Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Instant Coffee

(So interesting to see the original Twilight Zone featured on Cinesseur's blog.)

After a first failed attempt to watch the entire series a few years ago, I started watching it again on Sunday. I'm only three episodes into the series, but I'm in no hurry. I'm watching so many tv series and have so many others to either watch in their entirety or catch up on that I simply cannot marathon a classic right now. I'll just be a Sunday viewer. Two to four episodes each Sunday should be enough. On Saturdays I have scheduled anime series. But that's another post.

In addition to the first three episodes of The Twilight Zone, I have also re:watched the Mike Wallace interview with Rod Serling, just to remain, once again, in awe and completely baffled.

I cannot believe how easy we (we? I? is it just me?) can forget (or choose to ignore?) how much of the media content we consume is manipulated by advertisers. Watching this interview, one might think the beginnings of television were just some strange beginnings, when an advertiser ("a sponsor") could ask the writers to use "coffee" instead of "tea" because they had to sell their stupid instant coffee, and that stuff like this doesn't happen anymore because, well, that was 1959, this is 2013. Needless to say, stuff like this still happens, except: it's much, much worse and also, no one seems to talk about it anymore. Not like Rod Serling. Not people in the position of Rod Serling, people who are supposed to care about the quality of their content above all else.

(While I was doing research for my dissertation I was appalled by the increasingly effacing line between content and advertising that I noticed in the one women's magazine I was still buying at that time. I gotta admit that up until that point I hadn't realized or really thought of  the extent to which advertisers could influence the content of a magazine. I mean, poor old naive me thought the F word was avoided in these women's magazines simply because they didn't want to scare their readers away. Ha, how silly of me.)

I consume so many media products, and I like to believe I'm an active spectator (for the most part, anyway), yet sometimes I tend to forget this one crucial thing: advertising is evil. It's strangely refreshing to be reminded of the evils of advertising, the evils of television-as-business by a 1959 interview with a tv writer and producer who seems to be as honest as he can be. But if I really want to never forget that (most) media equals evil business, I should have the words of Patrick Le Lay somewhere where I can always see them:  "Ce que nous vendons à Coca-Cola, c'est du temps de cerveau humain disponible."


The Twilight Zone is brought to you tonight by:

(Isn't YouTube the greatest? The instant coffee, Sanka, is around the 2:40 mark, and if you're curious enough, you'll also find a couple of Sanka commercials from 1959.)

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