Something terrible has happened to television.
No, I'm not talking about the mind-numbing teen dramas that make up 51% of evening programming.
I'm talking about "Shock Promos."
I remember seeing an ad for some horror movie on television when I was a child. I don't remember the title. Clips from blood-soaked scenes, quickly edited like a standard movie promo, hit me like a Clockwork Orange brain-reprogramming session. The music and flashing images of terror scarred my little pink cerebral folds. I was haunted by images of horror separated from any context. It took years before I could look at a BBQ skewer without quaking in Pavlovian panic.
On one hand, it was a terrible thing to do to a little kid. On the other hand, it was a damn effective advertisement.
Anything that grabs hold of your brainstem and holds it hostage for a week is a powerful tool.
And it looks like the mind-control specialists/psychologists working for the FOX network finally figured out what made that horror movie ad so powerful:
Disgusting images flashed on the screen =The Shock Promo.
You can be sitting watching your sit-com filled with charming children and witty neighbors and everything seems hunky-dorey. Then a commercial break comes and... WHAM!
"DON'T MISS THE 400 LB. TUMOR!" A split-second image of a vein-filled bloody mass gets etched in your brain permanently.
There are the commercials with blips of car crashes for "COPS" and snapping animals for "When Nature Attacks," but the worst offender in the Shock Promo genre is Guinness World Records. That program is a showcase for human car-crashes: "MOST PAINFUL RECTAL INJURY!!!" "MOST INFLAMED GENITAL RASH!!!" "WORST CASE OF HEARTBURN!!!" I actually cover my eyes when the commercials come on.
I don't mind that the shows themselves are on. Sure, it saddens me and loosens my already weak faith in humankind. But whatcha gonna do. People love a good car crash.
What bugs the CRAP out of me is these "Shock Promos" they run. They're like blood-soaked glimpses of highway that make you rubber-neck to see more of the carnage. Even though what you've already seen is enough to give you nightmares, you still crave MORE.
I'm sure many people who see the promos will tune in so they can survey the rest of the disaster scene. They'll probably even feel like it was a half-hour well-spent. Sprinkle a little spice in their brain. But I don't want to be subjected to the carnage. It's not the kind of spice I like.
I don't want shocking things flashed in front of my eyes without warning. They put warnings before shows like that air in their entirety. Why do they feel it's OK to shove it in my face when I'm unsuspecting?!
Am I the only one who reacts like this? Does FOX care that they are turning away a portion of their audience? Or am I part of an expendable minority?
I'd turn my back on FOX and never come back…if it weren't for the Simpsons. Oh sweet Simpsons…tying me to FOX with golden handcuffs.