Sometimes when I’m watching TV I pay attention to the commercials and think about whether I’m the target audience. Sometimes I’m not—that is unless I happen to have a grandchild I don’t know about who also happens to have a rare and unpronounceable disease, all of which seems pretty unlikely, but, still, maybe there’s a reason I’m sitting up late watching reruns of Barney Miller. The Sixties were a crazy decade and a lot of stuff went on that I don’t remember, mostly because I wasn’t alive in the Sixties. Anyway I saw this ad on the bus and started wondering if I was the target audience:
Well, I’m pretty sure I am the target audience for the “Walk. Bike. Ride.” ad on the right since I do at least two of those things on a regular basis, maybe even three–this is a crazy decade and maybe I’m out there riding and don’t know it–but what’s with the ad for tuberculosis on the left? Well, specifically it’s an ad for tuberculosis prevention—if there’s a “Want tuberculosis? Call now for a free offer!” ad out there I’m pretty sure I’m not the target audience for it.
The ad is also a little unnerving. Didn’t tuberculosis go out with the Victorians and other dinosaurs? I thought these days the only consumption anybody worried about was the conspicuous type. And when I hear that some atrocious fashions are coming back I assume people mean bellbottoms and not coughing up blood, even if it was chic among the Pre-Raphaelites.
In all seriousness tuberculosis is a terrible disease and while the number of cases worldwide is decreasing about one-fourth of the world’s population is believed to be infected—a number that’s even higher in Carson McCullers novels—and if anything we should be doing everything we can to make it unfashionable.