A Few Complaints About Antidepressant Commercials

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You may be spending some quality time on this holiday with your television, watching sports, movies, or fireworks. But commentator Andrei Codrescu has been focused on the stuff that interrupts that programming — the commercials. In particular: ads that target the millions of people who suffer from depression. Andrei has some complaints about their tone and their effect.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

You may be spending some quality time on this holiday with your television watching sports, movies or fireworks. But our commentator Andrei Codrescu has been focused on the stuff that interrupts that programming: the commercials. In particular, ads that target the millions of people who suffer from depression.

Andrei has some complaints about the ads' tone and their effect.

ANDREI CODRESCU: So I'm watching this TV ad for a drug called ABILIFY that makes your antidepressant actually work if your antidepressant doesn't, and I get depressed. As soon as I get depressed, I see a new ad for a drug called ABILIFY Plus that boosts the previous two antidepressants.

All day long, I watch a series of increasingly more potent antidepressant boosters layered on top of one another like a new picture on top of another.

Buried in there somewhere is the original mural depicting you hanging yourself over which someone has first brushed off the noose and replaced you hanging yourself with you happily eating pizza at the Family Garden Restaurant, where just as you're about to stab yourself with a fork, a new image of you using the fork to scratch an itch on your neck has appeared, an image that is replaced almost immediately by a steaming bowl of noodles just as your itch turns to be leprosy or something worse.

I love all pharmaceutical advertising complex. They will simply just not let you get depressed. At the slightest sign of depression, like when the boredom of summer without school sets in, not to speak of the melancholy of leaves turning in autumn, the pharma advertising industry leaps into action and turns those signs into celebrations.

Getting old? Here is wrinkle cream and Ponce de Leon water. Your dear one's dying? Here is a pill that will automatically subscribe you to a marvelous pagan religion where death is an illusion. The body giving you trouble? Here is another body - not here yet, but soon, you'll have a closet full of them or at least the belief that you will, which comes in a pill.

I know that somewhere, there are humans who are stubbornly resisting both the palliatives of the pharma vampires and the consolations of religion, but there are fewer and fewer of us as we are being replaced by happy machines.

I once had a regular schedule of emotions that flowed the seasons in the actual work of time. Slowly, slowly, I'm being transformed into a trumpet of optimistic psychobabble even as my fellow humans disappear behind the curtains of war and television.

It's an interesting world if you actually buy this slop and never, never revisit your own mind.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: That's commentator Andrei Codrescu. He's the author of "Whatever Gets You Through The Night: A Story of Sheherezade and the Arabian Entertainments."

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