There’s a new empathy-building exercise that doctors, physical therapists, and others who deal with the elderly do to help them better understand what it’s like to be old–at least physiologically. It involves things like goggles that restrict their vision, ear muffs, weights on their shoes and clumsy-making gloves. Pretty clever idea, actually. But if they really wanted to enhance the experience, they would also ask participants to watch “Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood” on CBS on, well, Sunday morning.
The show itself is the antithesis of modern visual style. The camera is still. the frame is uncluttered. People talk in quiet, measured tones and tell their stories in leisurely fashion. Everyone behaves properly and is appropriately attired. There are profiles of nice people and pictures of nature.
Hello? Are you still with me? Would you rather watch something that involved death, despair, generational squabbles about money, and unfulfilled sexual situations? That would be the commercials on this show. In one pod, you might see advertising for Cymbalta, Flomax, , reverse mortages, estate planning, United HealthCare and a spirited defense of the dead-tree version of the New York Times.
Now obviously, these advertisers are all here for a reason–they’ve come for the Early Bird Senior Special–but the cumulative effect for the audience has to be depressing. And (to borrow from the hilarious Direct TV campaign) when you’re depressed, you stay in bed. When you stay in bed, you get bed sores. When you have bed sores, you get cast as a zombie on The Walking Dead. When you get cast as a zombie, somebody sticks a hunting knife in your skull.
Don’t wind up with a hunting knife in your skull. Watch cartoons on Sunday morning.