COKE ZERO PRESENTS: NPF

Posted in No Politics Friday on July 25th, 2008 by Ed

In the interest of "preventing terrorism" security guards at Yankee Stadium are confiscating sunblock from paying customers as they enter. That's a questionable thing to do to people who are paying $50 to sit motionless in the searing July sun for three hours. But don't worry! Inside the stadium they will sell you 1 oz packets of SPF 15 for $5. At least it's Terrorist Proof Factor is off the charts.

Leave it to New Yorkers to take being a raging dick to a new level. But this is just part of a larger trend – extract revenue at all costs – and certainly par for the course in an industry that charges $8 for a Miller Lite. If I may speak candidly, I fucking hate being advertised to. I understand that advertisements are necessary to sustain businesses like print or broadcast media. In most industries, though, it's simple greed. We pay $9 per movie and have to sit through 5 minutes of Axe Body Spray / National Guard ads. We force kids to watch ChannelOne in schools, lest they miss a batch of Stridex commercials. And going to a live sporting event is little more than a three-hour exercise in being advertisted to these days.

I'm not so naive as to think that any for-profit enterprise run by rational people is going to turn down the chance to make a buck, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. As Tim Gunn might say, you have to edit. The theater might ask itself "Well, these folks are already paying $9 for a ticket and $10 more for some Diet Coke and popcorn. Do we really need to pile on the commercials?" The unblinking answer these days is Yes. Yes We Do.

It wasn't that long ago that I could go to a baseball game (at Comiskey Park or County Stadium or Tigers Stadium, now US Cellular Field, Miller Park, and Comerica Park) and enjoy the seventh inning stretch, not the Yahoo! Seventh Inning Stretch into Savings At Wal-Mart. Bringing in relief pitchers used to be a fun opportunity to mock the departing starter and perhaps catch a glimpse of that silly bullpen car. That has been replaced by the Verizon Wireless Call to the 'Pen. The jumbovision plays Chevy Truck commercials among the Doritos Home Run Replay (Doritos: The Official Triangular Pressed-Corn Leavings Chip of YOUR Kansas City Royals). Male fans get to take a leak with "urinal advertising" 8 inches from their faces. Can I please piss without being told of the wonders of 1-800-CASINO.com (Not a gambling site)?

Sadly our society bombards people with so many sponsorships, pitches, ads, and commercials that most people either barely notice or would feel naked without them. Yes, we are a free country and businesses may do whatever paying customers are willing to bear. The Yankees can confiscate their fans' sunblock and charge them $5 to replace it, but should they? We can slap a Geico ad on every flat surface on the planet, but should we? We can sell the naming rights to our National Parks (seriously, that is a real proposal) but should we? Alas, with all the hyper-free-market leg-humping of the past two decades, we see the idea of corporate sponsorship as the mark of quality.