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Sunday, October 25, 2009
What's Up With Those Tubs?
“What a drag it is getting old...”
from ”Mother’s Little Helper,” by the Rolling Stones
We’ve all seen them, those coy-and-cuddly commercials hawking various get-it-up-and-get-it-ON! medications formulated to lift the scourge of “Erectile Dysfunction” from the, uh – shoulders, I guess -- of men mired in the La Brea Tar Pits of late middle-age. Treading on culturally delicate ground, these ads run the full spectrum from cloyingly silly to annoyingly absurd. One early effort a few years back concluded with a studly (if no longer remotely young) man tossing a football in a tight spiral through a tire swing hanging from the old oak tree in the back yard, his weathered face creased with a knowing grin.
Not exactly subtle, but that’s advertising for you.
In time, these ads trended away from such yee-haw, good-old-boy, wink-and-a-nod symbolism towards the more upscale, yuppified billing-and-cooing of middle-aged couples. But seriously, folks -- just because middle-aged people really do have sex in this world doesn’t mean I want to see gray-haired men nuzzling their equally mature wives like love-struck teenagers preparing for the Big Event. Not only does this come under the heading of Too Much Information, but it’s a bit like watching your parents getting ready to Do It.
Does anybody (other than the actual participants) really want to see that?
Then there’s the rather baffling tub motif: two narrow, one-person only bathtubs side-by-side on a cliff or beach overlooking the sea. By the end of the spot, one tub is occupied by an apparently naked man, the other by a nude woman -- seen from behind -- reaching out to hold hands from the cold solitude of their very own claw-foot porcelain prisons.
Let me get this straight (so to speak): after years of disappointing his long-suffering wife in the sack, the guy finally wised up and took Cialis, Viagra, or some other up-and-at-‘em pill, and now that he's a "man" again, his idea of a great time and place to employ his store-bought woody is broad daylight on a windy cliff in two cast iron bathtubs that aren’t even comfortable for one person, much less two?
Something tells me the Don Draper-type who okayed this campaign has never actually tried to have sex with another person in a bathtub built for one.
Okay, so this is supposed to be symbolic, with those two tubs representing the cruel realities of life in late middle-age. Although their spirits remain willing, an unbridgeable gap keeps these graying lovers apart due to ravages of age on flesh -- but through the magic of Daddy’s Little Helper, all this can be temporarily overcome, the gap bridged, and the thrill of physical union once again fully enjoyed. At the end of the commercial, we’re apparently meant to envision these two flabby, crepuscular lovers rising from their tubs, then diving hand-in-hand off the cliff into the sea, there to become One with each other and the Great All. I suppose we should be thankful that the ad geniuses who came up with these spots have thus far chosen to leave that particular image to our collective imaginations.*
I don't mean to minimize the debilitating stresses that come with aging, or suggest that there aren't lots of people who haven't had their lives enriched with the help of ED drugs. I just wish the ads could be a bit more creative and a lot less sappy.
And really, Cialis, it's time for those tubs to go.
*And before the Politically Correct Police come to drag me away in the handcuffs of humorless self-righteousness, this isn’t “ageism” on my part – I’m probably as old (or older) than most of the actors in those spots...