I'm a sucker for the late night infomercial. I never learn. Maybe it's because I'm more suggestible at night, when they broadcast. By then my mind is fatigued, intoxicated and incapable of critical thought (like an Obama voter). I tend to accept things at face value. I yell to the television, “That's the most ingenious invention ever! How have I survived this long without it?” This is why I have a cupboard full of useless crap.
Recently I bought this vegetable chopper. Maybe you saw the infomercial. You place the vegetable underneath the device. Then you repeatedly punch the crap out of it, activating a reciprocal blade. Each time you punch, the blade slices into the vegetable, twists, and retracts. After a series of punches, you have a neatly diced pile of vegetable in the bottom compartment. Behold – a delicious salsa in 9 seconds!
Not quite. The problem is, the chopper almost chops the vegetables. The vegetable's skin remains intact, so that you wind up with a tapestry of chopped vegetable matter. But all is not lost. All you have to do now is place the semi-chopped vegetables in a blender or food processor to finish the job – you know, the food processor you hoped not to need anymore once you bought the chopper!
That's the problem with infomercials: it's not a lie; it's just the best-possible-scenario. It's like a girl's picture on MySpace or those dating websites. Yeah, it's her. But she's not really that hot, dude. It's just a really flattering picture – a miraculous coincidence of clothing, lighting, coloring, point-of-view, concealment, and dumb luck, captured in an instant on film.
Still, those infomercials move some product! They work because they exploit the one vice common to mankind: wishful thinking. We want to believe. We want to believe there's a $20 device that will solve all our cooking needs, trim our waistlines, organize our clothing closets, replace a cupboard full of utensils, illuminate our homes, provide home security, repair old shoes, clothes and furniture, bond any material quickly and easily, and pay for itself many times over. Buy our product now – it defies the laws of physics... and your sense of reason!
Lately I've been tuning in to watch the infomercial for the Shamwow, a miraculous new chamois. Life is full of unwanted liquids. Enter the Shamwow. It's a magical towel that vacuums fluids and retains them (incidentally, why don't they make contraceptives out of Shamwow?) until you hold it over a sink and ring it out, at which time it spills its contents. Miraculous! I'm sure it works every bit as good as the pitchman says. Have you seen this pitchman, by the way? How about that hairdo? I wonder how much styling gel the Shamwow would suck off that pitchman's head if he applied it to his scalp and punched it a couple of times, like he does on the simulated carpet spill. Come on, Vince. Sell me on this thing. Pull that Shamwow over your head and start punching, you Jersey tweaker!
That's another infomercial necessity – the pitchman with the quirky mannerisms and cool accent. See, if it were just a normal guy, you'd watch for moment and then say to yourself, “This guy's full of shit.” But if the guy has a cool accent and acts really excited, he becomes Honest Abe. Ah, he's from Australia and he's hopped up on crank. A guy like that would never steer me wrong!
Infomercials try to rush your purchase. But you must call now... They don't want you wasting any time thinking about it (like global warming initiatives and federal “stimulus” bills). It's ironic, considering they expect you to spend 30 minutes watching the damn infomercial. Now that they've made the pitch, you don't have a second to spare. On the contrary, pitchman. I just wasted 3 hours of my life watching infomercials on zero-down real estate investing, food processors and shammies. I've got all the time in the world. Plus, time-management isn't my strong suit.
I'll let you know how the Shamwow works out. UPS is rush-delivering 8 of them to my house. I can't wait to spill something!