December 29th, 2010 11:00 EST
The Self-Satirizing TV Drug Ad Symbolizes American Culture
What can we believe?
The pharmaceutical advertisement must surely be the exemplar of American culture: this product is a wonderful thing if it doesn`t kill you.
As caveat the pharmaceutical advertisement is a masterwork of satire. It stands as artful metaphor for every political speech, every plank in a platform, every crafty dodge, every piece of tricky legislation cobbled by lobbyists and their elected stooges.
It says swallow this and you`ll be lucky not to die. We`re going to make everything all right even if it kills you. It says believe us and we`ll get rich and you`ll get sick. It says make the rich richer and they`ll take care of you out of the goodness of their hearts.
No essayist could do a better job of lampooning our culture than these pricey grifts, which almost single-handedly support our staggering and compromised media.
They are perhaps, like our politics, an inevitable result of the exaltation of money over every other consideration. If something sells, if it can be sold, it must be good, which is to say that if enough people can be fooled their folly may be said to be the authorized version of the truth. What sells is true and good "if it doesn`t kill us.
In such a society a successful lie is transmuted into the truth by its very success. Money, then, is not filthy lucre but rather a prescribed detergent.
We have lived, barely, through a blizzard of family values blather every bit as deceptive as a pharmaceutical ad, because the real issue is how a culture that measures success with money can have any values at all.
It raises the further question of how Americans can be sure that wars are waged in their defense as opposed to making bankers and other profiteers rich.
How, for example, can a press that did not inquire into the nature of the housing boom and sub-prime lending fiasco be trusted to report anything straight? The press claims to have been surprised by the subsequent crisis, but is that to be believed in light of the plain fact that the press was a major beneficiary of the predators? Is it to be believed any more than a pharmaceutical ad?
What is to be believed when the measure of truth is money?
Djelloul Marbrook is a retired newspaperman. His second book of poems, Brushstrokes and Glances, will be published by Deerbrook Editions on December 20, 2010. His first book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. It won the International Book Award in 2010. His novella, Artemisia`s Wolf, will be published by Prakash Books of India in December. His novella, Saraceno, was recently published as an e-book. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com