All Drugs, All the Time

Photo by Eric Francis.

I watch too much television. I’m happy about that because TV used to suck. Now some of my favorite creative talents are on TV, in particular on Comedy Central (Danny Tosh among them), Current TV (I still love Keith) and MSNBC (Rachel Maddow remains on probation for promoting Gardasil when she absolutely should know better — I’ll come back to that). But this also means I get to watch a lot of television ads. I have the kind of mind that studies and observes everything I see, and I’ve become a reluctant student of advertising over the past few years.

One thing I’ve noticed is how few products are on TV. Besides the consumer schlock ads (valued at $100, you get four for $19.99!) we have a lot of high-end cars, a few low-end cars, high-end junk food (Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse) and low-end junk food (dollar menu) and…drugs. Lots and lots and lots and lots and LOTS of drugs.

When I lived in Europe and would come home and flip on the TV in a motel, it seemed extremely weird that every other ad was for a drug. It does not seem ‘normal’ now that I’ve been back a few years; in fact it gets weirder all the time. Notice the range of issues the drugs cover — countless cardiac and vascular drugs, lots and lots of sex enhancers (“an ordinary moment can turn romantic any time,” don’t you know), testosterone supplements (“millions of men in their 40s may suffer from Low T”), and more lately, all kinds of drugs that do things by suppressing the immune system.

I view this as a manifestation of Neptune in Aquarius. It is synchronous, for one thing — these ads did not exist like this 15 years ago. They did not saturate the airwaves night and day. There were not so many drugs and they were not advertised like this. It’s the combination of the drug development, the public venue of cable television, the propaganda factor and the message that “you will have a great life if you do this” that all add up to Neptune in Aquarius. We are being pumped full of idealism.

There’s also the toxicity factor. I have a special adoration of the disclaimers that can take 15 to 20 seconds of a one minute commercial — even longer — outlining all the things that can go wrong. Strokes from stroke meds, asthma attacks from asthma meds, cancer from immune-suppressing psoriasis drugs, to name a few. I am just fascinated by the one particular drug that does such a good job shutting down the immune system that patients can get cancer or tuberculosis. I mean really. I imagine psoriasis is extremely annoying, but is that a solution?

I am less concerned with specific manifestations than I am with the mindset that is so susceptible to this kind of infiltration. I am concerned with the mentality of “avoid pain at any cost.” That expresses itself many more ways than pharmaceutical ads. And the cost is more than side-effects. By specifically avoiding pain as a way of life, we also avoid opportunities to heal. I am NOT saying that seeking out pain is a means to healing; rather I am suggesting that once we get there, we have a choice to make.

Now, back to Rachel Maddow of MSNBC for a moment. Last year I wrote that she had sold her soul to Merck pharmaceutical. When I get back to my studio in a few days I will share with you my email to her, written in response to her absolutely false, indefensible claim that Gardasil is safe — at the same time that she was accepting advertising money from Merck, which is the purveyor of Gardasil. Which is deadly, and causes central nervous system issues and many, many other problems in the girls who get the shots. The influence of this drug money is not neutral. It is anything but neutral. There is a lot of it, and it’s as toxic as the drugs themselves.