Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Maybe you wouldn't be so Damned Depressed if you'd just put down that doll

Did you know that ads for Prescription Drugs used to be illegal in this country? I'd like to see them made illegal again, mainly because while the principal task of ALL commercials is to make you feel crappy about your life and then offer you a solution through the purchase of some product, there seems to be something downright evil in using the same marketing strategy to sell drugs. The constant "suggestion" that you "Ask Your Doctor" about this drug or that if you feel this symptom or that has at it's base nothing more complicated than a desire by Big Pharma to turn this country into an army of pill-poppers constantly harassing their doctors for more. And, of course, turning doctors into well-paid pushers who would rather hand out the drugs and collect the fees (not to mention the junkets to "medical conferences" and free goodies ranging from golf trips to ball-point pens) than actually talk to their patients.

The most recent obnoxious drug ad I've seen is one for something called "Pristiq." It features a truly creepy-looking, pink-cheeked doll with a massive windup key attached to it's back. A woman tells us that "every day, it was as if I had to wind myself up to get myself going." (Shot of doll being wound, and then slowly walking across a table, sad look on face, arms moving back and forth slightly, and quickly winding down.) "Then I'd have to wind myself up again." (Repeat scene of creepy doll taking tiny steps across the table.)

Narrarator tells us that we should "ask our doctor about Pristiq." What's Pristiq? One of a dozen or so prescription medications designed to treat Depression. How does it work? Well, this is interesting- we are told that "Pristiq MAY work by...." followed by the industry-standard cartoon graphics suggesting that the movement of little pink and blue squares from one synaps to another limits the effects of depression, or something. So it seems that the manufacturer doesn't know, either.

But back to that doll. Now the woman has a slight smile on her face, and so does the doll (I don't want a doll that changes moods along with me. I'm happy with my portrait in the back room.) The doll marches across the picnic table, and the woman just stares at it with this insipid half-grin. In the background, her husband and children are playing happily, and they interrupt this woman's Doll Time by running to No Longer Depressed Mommy.

I don't want to make light of Depression- I know more about it than I'm willing to discuss here- but maybe one problem this woman was having was that she was spending way too much time playing with the Most Depressing Toy Ever Invented. Seriously- a doll with a massive key in it's back, which takes tiny steps when wound? Yeah, that's a better choice than YOUR HUSBAND AND CHILDREN, WHO ARE RIGHT THERE! Cripes, poking a dead squirrel with a stick would be less depressing than this doll.

At least those sad floating heads in the Zoloft commercials have an obvious excuse for being depressed- THEY DON'T HAVE BODIES. But this woman is just bringing it on herself with that stupid doll.


  1. Know why people didn't get depressed or have ADHD back in the day? Patent medicines like Pinkham's and Ayer's that were full of opium and kept people too stoned to care.

    Moxie, Coke, 7-Up, Hires Root Beer -- all originally sold as having medicinal properties. Coca-Cola was designed as an alcohol-free hangover cure, hence the use of cocaine.

    Corn flakes and other cereals were marketed as curatives.

    Cigarettes were sold for medicinal uses, too -- they calm you down, they soothe the stomach and aid digestion.

    Ahhh, the good old days. I guess some things never change.

  2. Perhaps the doll represents the woman herself - lifeless? Drive-less? Mixing metaphors is dangerous, obviously, because with modern commercial speed it'll be lost on most people.
    Still, the Doll Who Ate Medicine? It's an angle...

  3. These ads and other marketing are one of the reasons Americans pay so much more for prescription medicine. I used to work in a state mental hospital and saw all the bribes big Pharma handed out.

  4. Make drug commercials illegal? Please, YES! You sum up Big Pharm's goals perfectly: to make us into a nation that medicates itself into problem-free bliss. Medication is one possible tool among a variety of options, all of which have their pros and cons, not the answer to a problem-free future. Taking meds is rather like making a deal with the devil: there is always a cost to be paid for whatever benefits you receive. It may be something small, like your mouth is more likely to go dry, or it may be something more serious, like an increase in OCD tendencies that require a second medication to keep under control. The side effects they mention in the commercials? You will experience some of them, and that's 'when', not 'if'. That people are carefully misled to think they can pop a pill on Monday and feel fab on Tuesday is a whole other rant because that's so far from the truth drug companies should be slammed with fines for false advertising.

  5. The goal of Big Pharma is not to cure any disease; there's no money in producing a cure. All they want to do is keep us sick- THAT'S where the money is.

    Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for us, the Food Industry is handling the other end of the equation, making our food more and more toxic every year, virtually guaranteeing that we will be popping pills for most of our lives. We live in a sick society, no pun intended.

  6. 1st Rep- another reason why we are more depressed, obese, more prone to cancer, arthritis, acid reflux, etc. is because until recently, we weren't living on a diet of processed toxins and sugars like we are now. We consume so many unnatural chemicals throughout our lives without even knowing it, it should come as no surprise that those chemicals are seriously destroying our bodies from the inside out. And now some studies suggest that regular intake of bottled water (and the toxins from the plastic bottle) may contribute to mental illness. But not to worry- there will be a pill to "alleviate" the symptoms. Just ask your doctor.