I met one of the bosses of one of the biggest international television networks in the world the other day. He is a Canadian. He travels all over the world and, because he is in the TV business, he told me that one of his favorite things to do in every country was to judge by TV commercials what things were important to that particular society.
Japan's TV commercials? Insurance for this or that; home sales; automobiles; financial instruments and plans; candy, cosmetics, fast food... Companies like Zurich, Sekisui, Kanebo.... Japanese commercials that soft sell and are emotive commercials.
I think that's right.
He also told me that he was "astounded" by just how many over the counter drug and prescription medication commercials there were on US TV all the time. US TV commercials? Drugs, Cholesterol, Machismo ("my ding-a-ling is bigger than yours" commercials); fast food; commercials to make your dick hard, make it soft, put you to sleep, keep you awake, lower blood pressure, lose weight; not to mention commercials galore for people with extreme anxiety and panic attacks.
Oh, and don't forget the side effects disclaimers!
Very sick society?
Why is the USA this way? It wasn't that way 50 years ago, was it?
Here's one piece of anecdotal evidence: Japan has its problems too, but here is something that will drop the jaws of all Americans... Did you know that in Japan, on any given day, you can get on a train or subway and see unaccompanied 5 and 6 year old kids going to and from school?
Little 5 and 6-year-old kids riding the trains by themselves in no fear of danger... And the other passengers think nothing of it. Why? Because that is normal in Japan.
Think about that.
I don't really have any conclusions to point out (I've made mine). Dear reader, please think of the ramifications of what I have written here and come to your own conclusion.
Thanks to my good friend, James Santagata for co-writing this article with me! James, you are tops!