Have you heard of the commercial conspiracy? I have, in fact I grew up hearing about it whenever I watched T.V. with my dad. My dad [jokingly] claims that there is a vast commercial conspiracy at the root of all television advertising. My father developed this theory over the years because he would always try to avoid watching commercials on T.V. My dad was always in charge of the remote which meant that whenever he sat down to watch something on T.V. the first thing he would do would be to find as many things to watch as possible. He would usually have at least two channels (often three or four) that he would flip back in forth between to avoid commercials. Inevitably, the commercials on both channels would be lined up at almost the exact same time. My dad would have the final round of a golf tournament on one channel and an NFL football game on another channel. Every time a commercial appeared on the golf tournament’s channel he would flip over the to football game and, lo and behold, more commercials! He would then sarcastically tell me and my siblings that there was a vast commercial conspiracy!
While the particulars of my dad’s theory may be up for debate he was definitely on to something when he spoke in terms of a conspiracy. The difference is that the conspiracy goes much much deeper. In fact, the commercial conspiracy is so deep that in reality it is the sitcoms, sporting events, and news programs that are the real commercials. If you don’t believe me then just read what James K.A. Smith has to say on the matter:
Television was invented to create audiences for advertising, not the other way around. Whether it is sitcoms, evening dramas, sports, or news, all such programming is an extension of and support for the thirty-second spots that seem to “interrupt” what we’re watching. (Desiring the Kingdom, pg. 95 [footnote 9])
When we look at television in this light it becomes clear that all the sports and sitcoms that we love to watch are the real commercials that the advertisers are using in order to get us to watch their commercials.
So in the end their truly is a commercial conspiracy, but the conspiracy is that the shows are the real commercials and the commercials are actually real television, at least in the eyes of the producers. They think, what kind of show can we put on to attract the most people so we can attract the highest paying advertisers. The only reason shows are pandering for your eyes is because they are ultimately pandering for the greenbacks of the advertisers who are ultimately pandering for your $$$ too!
Food for thought!