I don’t watch television. I know that sounds so phony, like I’m just pretending to be a t.v. snob and that I actually do watch it. But no, I just hate it. I’ll watch the local news, if I’m in the mood, or a documentary if there’s an interesting one on PBS. It helps that I only have basic cable, which eliminates the tendency to just turn the t.v. on and mindlessly flip through channels in the optimistic-but-futile hope that there must be something on that’s worth watching. No, I waste my time on my computer, thank you very much.
One of the reasons I hate t.v. are because of the commercials. For instance, take this guy, Billy Mays. Oh, you’ve heard him. “HI, BILLY MAYS HERE FOR…” he yells, beginning his pitch for some product. That product might be anything from household cleaners to food choppers to insurance. He bombards you with an over-the-top, high-pressure approach. It must be effective; he’s pitched dozens of products.
I’ve often wondered, "Why is Billy Mays yelling at me?" And the very next thought is, "Who the #*&% is Billy Mays?" He announces himself in a tone of voice that suggests that he is universally well-known…that it is just assumed that we know who he is. But I’d never heard of him, and let’s be honest, I’ve been watching t.v. since the mid-1960’s. Had I missed something? Well, yes and no.
Turns out, Billy Mays is a nobody. He’s an ad pitchman, a salesman, that’s it. His one and only claim to fame is that he sells stuff on television. He got his start on the Home Shopping Network selling a product called OxiClean back in the early 1990's. That campaign was so successful it lead to other deals. His trademark (if you will) is his “unique” style of selling (i.e. yelling at you to coerce you into buying something) and…um, his beard. Yes, his “recognizable” beard. Which…come to think of it…he’s nearly as old as I am and yet there’s not a trace of gray in that beard…hmm.
Mays’ approach still works well enough, evidently. But when I hear that voice yelling at me, I tune out. I don’t care what he’s selling, I ain’t a-buyin’.
So through the power of the internets! I’ve solved the Billy Mays Mystery. I’ve spent much too much time on it already. I won’t subject you to a full Billy Mays commercial, every one of them is up on YouTube if you're interested. But it would be quicker just to turn on your t.v.