Friday, August 19, 2016

Stopette! Stopette RIGHT NOW!

I could, can, and do watch old commercials by the hour. Some of them I actually remember - in fact, the 1950s ones are probably among my first memories of being alive on this earth. From the very start, I was a vid kid.

There was an obsession then with giving products intimidating-sounding names that gave you a sense of control, or, at least, stopping something. Thus, the early deodorant product Stopette (a name which somehow wouldn't fly today), a shampoo with the bizarre name Subdue, Enden ("dandruff problems are ended by Enden, ended by Enden"), and, of course, Tame.

I don't know if any of these products are still around today. I looked for more with similar control-obsessed names, but they all had to do with hair, and I was sick of the image of hair being stiffly shaken to show how "natural-looking" it is (even in the later, '60s Tame ad with its Marlo Thomas 'do).

Note the forbidding-looking X on the Enden jar. This stuff means business. It doesn't just treat, it annihilates. That woman could kill you with one swing of the head.

Having become sick of hair and its regimentation, I branched out into other products.  There was Allerest, of course, with its aggressive police-force vibe; and Compoz, some sort of bromide-based tranquillizer along the lines of Miles Nervine. It brought to mind the classic "Mother, please!" Anacin commercial, with its famous line, "Control yourself! Sure, you have a headache". I FINALLY found a video of this ad after more than a decade of frustration. This is the best version I could come up with.

Not the best, with its black borders, but sometimes that's all you have to work with. Even my own mother, who was in many ways the archetypal '50s housewife, thought this ad was absurd, even parodying it as she stirred the tapioca pudding.

But I don't suppose anyone realized just how disturbing this Anacin commercial is, with the woman's mental health fraying into a thread due to the shenanigans of her naughty kids, This causes her to automatically reach for the "solution": a chill pill. The ominous throbbing zoom-in, the red screen and fraying rope seem to indicate she's near the snapping point, whatever that means (butcher knife, anyone?) Reaching for a pill instead of dealing with domestic problems was something encouraged by doctors, who often prescribed a lot stronger stuff than Anacin.

But this is the really creepy part. The threads resolve themselves back into the kind of rope that would be sturdy enough to hang yourself with. I wonder if the advertisers even thought of that. At the very least, a rope is something you use to tie things up/down (such as yourself - or maybe the kids?). The bland unfocussed look on the woman's face indicates that she has likely washed down her Anacin pill with several martinis.

POST-NOTE. The first two gifs have two women in them, or one woman duplicated side-by-side, for reasons I still can't figure out. In fact, this post was originally going to feature ads with duplicate women, but I couldn't find any more. The Doublemint Twins just wouldn't do.

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