David Shepperd

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Op-Ed: Commercials give television a bad name

The custom drive-through outdoor Santa Claus Land of Lights tells the “Shining Story of Rudolph.” (Spencer County Visitors Bureau)
The custom drive-through outdoor Santa Claus Land of Lights tells the “Shining Story of Rudolph.” (Spencer County Visitors Bureau)

As I’m sure many of you have experienced, often when I arrive at my home after a long day of classes, I like to unwind by watching a little television.  For many of you, this may mean you will spend a couple of hours binge-watching the latest fad on Netflix. However, since I do not own a Netflix account, this means that I am reduced to watching cable.

It really isn’t too bad. Sure, I will admit that there are a number of shows that are sub-par in quality, but it’s the same with Netflix. To be honest, a lot of the times when I want to watch something funny, I’ll turn on TV Land and watch some reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, or I’ll catch up on some Seinfeld on local channels.  That being said, there is something I do detest about television, and for the most part, so does everyone else.

In the end, what gives television a bad name is the endless amount of commercials that constantly interrupt whatever you are watching. Although I do enjoy a few of these commercials, they are very few in number and I don’t enjoy watching them in the middle of a plot-twist of a movie on AMC. One commercial in particular that I strongly dislike is the latest K-Mart Christmas advertisement. If you don’t know the one I am referring to, watch it on youtube. It may not seem bad at first, but watch it about 300 times in a row and then get back to me.

The thing about commercials is, about 95 percent of them take no thought to write. That and the fact that 95 percent of them are extremely stupid.  Someone once told me that the more stupid a commercial is, the better – because that will make people remember the product and they are more likely to buy it. Let me tell you something – the next time I drive by a K-Mart, their annoying Christmas commercial is not going to persuade me to go in and buy something for $8 more than I could have gotten at Walmart. But perhaps that’s just me.

The point is, a big reason why people don’t watch regular television is because they hate being interrupted by irrelevant commercials. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told people canceled their Hulu accounts because of the amount of commercials. I do suppose that a number of people would rather watch Netflix because overall, their shows are better. But why do you think Netflix became a thing in the first place?  “Here, let’s sit down and watch an unlimited amount of movies and television whenever we want, without any commercials.” Sounds pretty good to me. But what do I know?  Here’s a great idea for a commercial – let’s make an Angel Soft Toilet Paper ad using popular Kentucky Fried Chicken slogans. I mean, who wouldn’t want to buy that product? “Angel Soft Toilet Paper: It’s Finger-Lickin’ Good!”

Satire: Ruminations on dating

President Barack Obama pardons Abe and its alternate Honest, not shown, both 18-week old, 40-pound turkeys, as National Turkey Federation Chairman Dr. Jihad Douglas looks on during a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday, Nov. 25 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
President Barack Obama pardons Abe and its alternate Honest, not shown, both 18-week old, 40-pound turkeys, as National Turkey Federation Chairman Dr. Jihad Douglas looks on during a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday, Nov. 25 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

As Thanksgiving break approaches, there are three things I know I have to look forward to. An assortment of delicious foods, an assortment of delicious family arguments and about 85 people asking me how my dating life is going. “Are you dating anyone?” “Who’s the lucky girl?” “You know, I’ll bet you have all the girls chasing after you constantly…” Ummm, thank you – why are we having this conversation?

I’m going answer these questions in the best way I know how.

Here’s the thing – I don’t date much. Sometimes I’ll get really dressed up and go to a fancy restaurant and I’ll have a very nice conversation with the waitress. She usually convinces me to get the dessert  and I like to think it’s because she just really wants me to enjoy my meal, but then I realize that she kept pushing it because it’s her job. And then when the meal is over, I leave her a huge tip, because in my mind she’ll probably use it to eat sometime, so it’s as if I’m buying her dinner. A perfect evening I’d say.

Although this scenario may sound stupid or pathetic, it’s pretty much exactly what a date is for the guy involved. We as guys give our date a huge tip for having a conversation with us and coaxing us into buying dessert with our meal. I dare you tell me I’m wrong – search your feelings, and you know it to be true.

I don’t even understand a lot of the rules that go along with dating. Like why does the guy have to shave before a date? The girl isn’t expected to cut her nails. Sometimes girls will put plastic on their nails to lengthen them… so if she’s allowed to show up to the date with witch’s nails, I think I’m allowed to show up with a huge Santa Claus beard.

And last but not least, the big question. What are we going to do? Are we going to a movie, taking a nice walk through the park, or going with the classic ‘get dinner’ plan? Let’s be honest here, no matter what all is included on this date, we’re going to get dinner as well.

So here’s a question – where are we going to dinner? Wendy’s? Sounds good to me, probably not to her though. So a place nicer than Wendy’s… IHOP? – I don’t know. It’s always in the back of my mind that when I say “I thought we’d go to IHOP,” that her response will be “Who goes to IHOP on a date? Are we 12?”

IHOP is delicious man and if twelve-year-olds are the only ones going to IHOP on dates, then they’re the smartest people on Earth.

I also like when sometimes, since we’re in college, our first thought is – let’s just go to the dining hall together. Which may sound good, but it isn’t good. For one thing, I’m not going to enjoy that. My entire life is constructed around avoiding the dining hall at all costs. The big thing that I will never understand about dining halls is that they serve the weirdest combinations known to man and act as if it’s totally normal. When was the last time that someone went to McDonalds and said “I’ll have the Big Mac with cooked cabbage?” That guy was probably also on a date – at McDonalds.

So does that answer your question Aunt Lucy? By the way, your apple pie is excellent. I just love these family gatherings. See you at Christmas.

The State of the Election

Michelle Obama visits Charlotte to campaign for Hillary Clinton. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.
Michelle Obama visits Charlotte to campaign for Hillary Clinton. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

A news story several weeks back that caught my eye was one about Minnesota Democrats attempting to kick Donald Trump off the ballot. Because in a shocking turn of events, they seem to be supporting Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.  And being members of the political party that believes so strongly in giving a voice to all Americans, and giving life to all ideas, they think it best to give their citizens an extensive variety of a list of one person to vote for.  Personally, I think that is a super idea.  I mean, in the words of Kim Jong Un, “There was an election in my country, and I won 100% of the votes.”  Now take note of that comment, as I’m sure that in the next few days, the completely unbiased ABC News will be reporting that I accused Hillary Clinton of actually being Kim Jong Un wearing a masterfully constructed mask of herself.  I can’t wait for my one-on-one interview with George Stephanopoulos.  I’ll be sure to wear my Dennis Rodman jersey for a great conversation piece.  But now we’re getting off topic.

Everyone’s worried about political correctness, political experience, an entire barricade between two countries.  But what about the fact that 9 out of every 10 restrooms in America have more bodily fluids on the floor than in the toilet?  Maybe that’s why people think that we evolved from monkeys – because we’re not much cleaner than they are.  And I suppose that we should be trusting Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton to fix this stuff.  To be honest, I’d rather be trusting one of the floor-urinators.  I can just hear it now.  When Donald Trump becomes president, the first thing out of his mouth (after thanking the founding fathers along with himself), will be “Now I hate to tell you this, but the wall has in fact been downgraded to a fence.  Don’t worry, we will be putting up a barrier!  It just won’t be an actual wall made of brick, but rather a fence made of chain… And I think that if I play this just right, I may be able to convince Sweden to pay for it.”  And if he loses, to recall one of his earlier speeches, the first thing he’ll say is “Well I lost to Hillary… Boy is this embarrassing.”

Speaking of Hillary, not to leave her out in the cold, I don’t think I can handle hearing again about what great friends she is with Barrack Obama.  Perhaps it’s just me Hillary, but we’re tired of hearing about your morning walks where you frolicked through the woods with Obama.  (There’s another good one for my interview with Stephanopoulos.)  I also like how at the Democratic National Convention, many of the honored guests were so helpful in pointing out that “Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person ever to be the president.”  I suppose I should paste her picture over the bust of Lincoln I have on my desk.  Or I could just borrow one of her self-image busts she has in her house.  (We know you have those Hillary, but don’t worry, I won’t judge. It’s the same as how Ted Cruz, along with every other republican in America, has a 10-foot statue of Ronald Reagan in their house.) Clinton alone, and in the rich ideals of democracy, her way or the highway… I think that’s just a sick deal, that just can’t be turned down.

But in the end, I’m not sure I believe all of this is really happening anyway.  You know those commercials that say “these are real people, not actors”?  That’s why I can’t watch the news – I’m convinced they’re all actors.  And perhaps this election is the same.  Either way, the democrats of Minnesota have a super idea in the works.  A ballot consisting of Hillary Clinton alone, and in the rich ideals of democracy, her way or the highway… I think that’s just a sick deal, that just can’t be turned down.