Posted in Body Politics, Commentary

Just so very wrong

I’m just going to say it: I hate, loathe, despise, and other rancorous verbs, the entire concept of, and commercial for, 5-Hour Energy. If you haven’t seen it, you can check several out here; they’re all pretty bad. My objection? Basically, we have a national television spot cheerfully advertising legal uppers, recommending that if people are tired, all they need to do is take this substance, and they can easily work past their bodies’ natural limits.  They suggest, repeatedly, that this is something you can, and should, do every day.  Every day.

If someone tried to run an ad for more traditional chemicals of this type, saying “When I’m tired in the afternoon, I find coke helps me get the job done,” or “When I don’t have time for sleep, crystal meth works for me,” (ignoring for the moment that meth might be what’s interfering with your sleep to begin with), the ad would be pulled immediately, and criminal charges brought, in all probability. But because we’ve been happily coexisting forever with a milder version in the form of coffee, tea, and sodas, this slope was particularly well greased already; I don’t imagine it would take most people much nudging to slip down it.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think it’s the sign of a pretty sick culture when people are so tired and worn down that the idea that they should perk themselves up with chemicals every single day is not only not offensive to them, but seems like a pretty good idea, and—BONUS!– superprofitable for someone, too.

The kingpins of Medellín figured this out years ago.

If you need chemicals to keep you awake, you’ll eventually need chemicals to get you to sleep, and then chemicals to get your dragging ass out of bed again the next day, leaving you so wired that you’ll need a sleep aid to get any shuteye. This is just a tremendous idea; just ask Judy Garland.

Instead of addressing the insanity of modern life that requires folks to take 5-Hour Energy, Red Bull, and constant coffee, Diet Coke, or caffeinated snacks, there’s an expectation that we’ll do whatever it takes, including casually drugging ourselves on a daily basis, to keep up with the rat race and responsibly live out our assigned roles as consumers and drones for The Man.

The problem here is not that people get tired. This is a natural thing, and that post-lunch slow-down many of us feel? That’s a natural circadian rhythm for most humans (and other animals—you’ll never see a dog working 10 hours a day without at least 11 naps in there somewhere); in the past, we allowed for it with some version of the siesta concept, but since the beginning of the Industrial Age, the needs of the human body are merely an impediment to profit. And that is my biggest objection, really: that instead of accepting human biology and the necessities thereof as the basic foundation of our collective human existence, and building from there, we’ve got ourselves so turned around now that to not fight what we are and what we need, physically, psychically, emotionally, spiritually, to opt out, or to even comment on the insanity, is considered lazy and detrimental to the collective.

People shouldn’t have to work two or three jobs just to make it. Parents who decide that their family life isn’t going to revolve around running their children to fifteen activities every week should not be given a hard time for “not caring enough” to give their children every possible opportunity to acclimate to a hectic, rest-deprived schedule as early as possible. Women shouldn’t have to worry about their jobs and opportunities for advancement if they choose the common path (ever since the world was born) of having children.  Most people have children; why do we make it so hard for them to make that work along with employment?  People who are tired, or sick, or both, should be able to address those issues without worrying that they’re going to starve or be out on the street. In a sane, humane world, people could take a nap when they needed one, and get 8 hours of sleep (or whatever they need), because the world would operate on a schedule that would make that easy.  In a sane world, a product like 5-Hour Energy wouldn’t exist.

Instead, we live in a world where the machine must never stop, and the cogs within it must be oiled with whatever concoctions that will allow them to continue to function until they ultimately break down beyond repair and can be replaced. If you can’t, or won’t, keep up, you are ground to dust; the machine doesn’t care.  And through a combination of brainwashing and fear, we’ve decided that our inability to keep up is a personal failing to be addressed by any means necessary, not a failing of the system.  I suggest we’re quite wrong about that.

Have you seen these commercials? Do they bug you as much as they do me?



I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.

17 thoughts on “Just so very wrong

  1. I regularly nod off at various points during the day, almost always the same points but they are not always convenient!

    However your post does make me think you may have spawned a series of spoof narcotic adverts.

    “Speed – Keeps me up in every way I need”

    “Smack – Why get up at all?”

    “Ecstasy – For people who can’t even get drunk party goers to shag them”

    1. I have to admit, Ecstasy is the only drug I’ve ever heard of that I actually want to try. But as it’s unlikely I’ll find any in my couch, I’ll have to go on wondering. 🙂

  2. On a more serious note you are right to be aggrieved and it is somewhat illuminating that our society continues to perpetuate the fact that an unnatural way of living is the right and the only way.

      1. But they like to make you think they can try to control your obsolescence–buy this vitamin! This special alarm for your house! Ask your doctor about…!

  3. Seems to have been going on forever; I remember the pro-plus given to every fresher at the start of university, by the Student Union. in 1991. I thought it was weird then…

  4. I do dislike those commercials and you have excellent points about why they are so bad. MY biggest advertizing pet peeve is the ED commercials. Honestly, there aren’t enough REALLY SERIOUS LIFE THREATENING conditions being ignored every day due to inappropriate funding or apathy that drug companies can invest millions of dollars to produce the next best pecker-upper, and blatantly ignore those pesky diseases taking millions of lives, but which aren’t profitable to find treatments for? (That was a horrible sentence but I’m not doing it over).
    We live in a society where a man’s erection is much more highly prized than that cancer cure, or the better treatment for, say Alzheimer’s or autism.

    1. “We live in a society where a man’s erection is much more highly prized than that cancer cure, or the better treatment for, say Alzheimer’s or autism.”

      Exactly right. And so very, very wrong. I’m on the side that having a healthy sex life is part of health…but I feel a lot of rage about living in a society that thinks boner medicine is a necessity and BC pills are immoral.

    2. I would also add that ED can be a sign of heart disease and arterial clogging, but it’s rare I see a mention of that in most “quick lists of heart disease symptoms.” You may not need boner meds; you may need bypass. But nobody talks about that…and that IS life threatening.

    3. “Sildenafil (compound UK-92,480) was synthesized by a group of pharmaceutical chemists working at Pfizer’s Sandwich, Kent, research facility in England. It was initially studied for use in hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina pectoris (a symptom of ischaemic heart disease). The first clinical trials were conducted in Morriston Hospital in Swansea.[42] Phase I clinical trials under the direction of Ian Osterloh suggested that the drug had little effect on angina, but that it could induce marked penile erections.[1][43] Pfizer therefore decided to market it for erectile dysfunction, rather than for angina.”

      So they were in fact, studying it for a life threatening condition, it was not effective for that but they found this side-effect.

      1. It may have just been a happy side effect, but it is now a multi million (perhaps billion) dollar industry to keep that member turgid. The money spent on advertizing alone for all of the ED drugs could support a small country. I’m guessing Pfizer is thrilled that it failed as an angina drug….where’s the money, fun or interest in THAT silly problem?

        …..not that I have anything personally against erections.

    1. By WHATEVER means necessary? I don’t know if I agree with that. If my man can only get it up bionically, by having a pump installed or some such, I’m thinking we can find other things to do that will make us equally happy, without invasive surgery in sensitive areas.

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