Stop This Bloody Madness!

In an ideal world, my awareness of tampons would be tangential. I’d know that they existed, of course, and that served some useful Glo-Mop service, but I’d never be privy to the full details.

But thanks to the wonders of Madison Avenue, the tampon commercials have been ramping up in intensity, broadcasting TMFI straight into my brain.

This needs to stop.

In the early days of Menstruation Marketing, you couldn’t even mention what the products did, and they were sold behind the counter as if bleeding was some sort of shameful event – well, assuming you could get the man with the waxed handlebar mustache to sell them at all. And alas, that’s about the last men heard about tampons for about seventy years.

(I say “Alas” is because I am a huge fan of Old-Time Radio, and in those days they didn’t have commercials – instead, corporations sponsored entire shows. In liu of commercial breaks, the show was uninterrupted but featured an amusing, product-focused skit, generally involving some character on the show who was obsessed with the product. This was all fine and well when it came to Bill Goodwin going nuts over Maxwell House coffee… But I still mourn the lost opportunity of having Gracie Allen become some sort of bloody waterspout, slopping and slurping onto the stage every week in a continual frenzy of menses, desperate for her beloved Tampax. But I digress.)

In the first tentative television commercials, there was a naturey vagueness about it, exhorting you that you could go swimming! Or horseback riding! Problem was that the commercials never actually said what Maxipad did, or even that it was a product for women, which led me to believe as a child that if you taped these things to your face a lake and a pony would appear.

I can tell you it doesn’t work.

In any case, in the mid-80s it finally became apparently that women used these things, and that there were different strengths, and that was about all I wanted to know. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not asking that we revert to the days of yore, wherein women were cooped up in a hut whenever the Cherry Jell-O flow came a-knockin’. However, like most bodily functions, menstruation is icky. The recent feminist movement to attempt to reframe a fairly disgusting biological side-product as some sort of pride is rather like men launching a semen-smearing campaign, or perhaps leading some sort of “prostate pride” parade, wherein everyone sticks their thumb up their ass to touch it and then holds them high in the air, shouting, “Prostates and Peenies!

(Actually, now that I think about it every porn video is a semen-smearing campaign. But that doesn’t make it right.)

But recently, there have been increasingly-vivid tampon ads, burning pictures on the back of my retinas. The ones that actually used blue fluid to show you how much their tampons could hold were crossing the line (and why blue fluid, for chrissakes?), as was the recent campaign that had an animated blood clot as its protagonist. I kept expecting there to be some sort of kid sidekick to the blood clot – perhaps a cheerful eight-celled embryo named “Miss Carry!”

But this most recent campaign is a little much. Now menstruation is a hoot.

The commercial involves a woman, all dressed in white – and there’s no Jungian subtext there – at a party with her boyfriend. She gets that “Oops I crapped my pants look” and leaps to the bathroom – which is also in Kubrickian white – and puts a tampon on the windowsill while she begins to fiddle with her pants. The tampon, which is a supertampon, falls outside, next to a window where her boyfriend is talking. She looks in the cabinet, finding only substandard tampons and pads, and MacGuyers up a chain out of tampons and maxipads to snag the ubertampon from the bushes just as her boyfriend’s saying how smart she is.

I don’t need this.

Yes, it’s probably good for me to sympathize with women, but I don’t need to be envisualizing a big, blood-spattered crotch on a hot chick. The weight of failure is clearly in mind here…. And I don’t wanna know. I believe there should be some dignity and gentility on television, if only in the commercials.

I can only imagine the future of other biologically-related commercials if this trend of “ha ha, it is to laugh!” keeps up:

  • A grandfather’s talking to his son. “Why do the grandchildren never come visit me any more?” he laments. “Well, dad,” his son replies, “It’s because you smell like ass. But new, powder fresh Depends…”
  • Picture of a woman at a party. She’s talking, laughing, having a good time – and then, a swarming beehive begins to grow out of her ass. Over the rising sound of the buzzing, the announcer intones: “Do you have itching, swollen hemorrhoids?”
  • A guy on the toilet, squatting and straining but getting nowhere. “Honey!” he shouts, infuriated. “I need the enema!” She rushes in and there’s a brief shot of him bending over the bed, the big rubber bag hanging on the wall with a label – “FOR THE ENEMA BAG”… But his face shows no relief. He moans to his faithful wife: “Did you get Fleet Enema?” Her expression is all we need to know. CUT TO a cartoon picture of a colon, Liquid Plumr-style, showing clinging pieces of cartoon crap. “You see,” he says as some inferior fluid is squirted into the abyss, “Other enemas don’t break up hard masses. But Fleet – ” shows a new fluid, and his colon begins squirming like a butterchurn – “softens stiff stool!”
  • A lovely girl in a room with a hot stud. They’re preparing for love, Barry White-style. He drops his robe and she squints, peers closer, and says, “I’m sorry – is that some sort of salt shaker?” “No, honey – those bumps are genital warts.” “Have you tried new Wart-Away?”
  • “Mommy,” the budding teenager says, looking at her crotch, “I think it’s my time. But maxipads are so uncomfortable, and I’m the first one to start my period – they’ll laugh at me!” “Well, dear,” says the wise mom, reaching into the cabinet, “These new SpongeBob SquarePads are cushy… And collectible!”
  • “We’re pouring five pounds of chocolate pudding into this Depends Adult Safety Deviceto show you how much of a load it can take!”

I’m not saying that women shouldn’t be able to buy products, or even that such products shouldn’t be advertised. But please – I don’t wanna know.

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