My television just told me I can now purchase a car that will slow down and stop all by itself to avoid an accident.
That worries me…and it’s not the only advert that does.
As a matter of fact, some of the ads I see on TV these days make me wonder if one of my favourite comedy programmes from when I was at university was just a preview of how bizarre our lives would eventually become.
The show I’m referring to was called Saturday Night although the current version of the programme that is aired on DSTV goes by the name Saturday Night Live since, right from the beginning, that’s what everyone called it. Basically it was an American version of Britain’s Not the Nine O’clock News with a few twists including some very authentic looking adverts that were– at the time – so outrageous the network executives didn’t worry about them being taken seriously. Also, the fact that the fake commercials featured Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray or some other well known members of the cast was a tip-off that they were not for real.
Obviously it would be a sound investment to pay hundreds of pula for your very own price sticker gun so you could slink around Spar or Pick n Pay slashing the cost of the items you wished to purchase – as Belushi did in a US store – if you could get away with it. Back in the 80s everyone understood you couldn’t, but if that fake ad ran today I’m not so sure that would be the case.
Okay, maybe that’s going a bit far, I don’t know, but I do know one of the most realistic sales pitches the Saturday Night team made was for a triple-edge razor. Thirty years ago the twin-blade shaving tools that had just hit the market were widely suspected to be just another marketing ploy so the triple-edge ad – complete with an animated demonstration of how the three blades worked together to give you a closer more comfortable shave – was designed to suggest the public was being conned by the blade manufacturers.
Today, of course, three blades are the standard number you’ll find on a razor and some of these things have five blades and a special skin-hydrating strip. Ridiculous, right? Yeah, it would be except for the irritating fact that the fancy multi-blade razors don’t irritate your skin and they shave incredibly well. As you may imagine, that discovery gave me no pleasure at all as I don’t particularly wish to pay a fortune for my shaving tools or throw away masses of environmentally unfriendly plastic along with my soon-to-rust-away blades.
I wanted the multi-blades to be a con but I had to admit they were easier to use than my old-fashioned safety razor, so for a while there I joined the 21st century and shaving became a breeze.
But then it hit me; what’s so bad about having to be careful when we shave – or when we drive for that matter?
Maybe it would be a better idea to use mundane tasks such as shaving or driving the kids to school to cultivate valuable personal skills like patience and a gentle touch – things that could actually enrich our lives – instead of relying on technology to make sure we don’t hurt ourselves.