On Having 2020 Vision

By Bernie Bell

Recently, I have become even more incensed by the advertisements on the telly. Every now and then there is an ad. which is well thought out, well put together and visually appealing.  They still don’t make me want to buy things – to para-phrase Sinead O’Connor – ‘I do not want what I cannot have.’

But I do like looking at some of them.

Mostly, they annoy me – I don’t like being shouted at and told what to do. I wish someone would invent a gizmo which could be attached to the telly, which cuts out the sound when the adverts come on.  Meanwhile, I turn the sound off.

Admittedly, that can make them more interesting – trying to work out what the hell they are advertising. Many are obscure enough anyway, but without the sound – they can become surreal.

I particularly don’t like ones which promote mean behaviour.  There’s one now, where a man prepares a lovely meal, watched, expectantly, by his little dog. He then sits and eats the meal in front of the dog – eats it all – with nothing for the dog. What kind of sick **** is that supposed to appeal to?

To get to the point.  At the present time, a lot of adverts present life – society – as ‘normal’.  Groups of people, meeting up, having a lovely time.  It is still possible to enjoy ourselves, and enjoy life, but not in groups, mixing socially.  That’s simply not a good idea – yet the ads. present us with scenes of folk in pubs, in restaurants, trying out beds in shops (maybe I should re-phrase that?).

I’ve been puttering about this for a while, as I think it could make folk hanker after a way of living which is best avoided at the moment.

I’ve now cranked up a level in my damning of the adverts, as there’s a lot of stuff about Halloween.  Ads. for children’s party costumes, with groups of children having Halloween parties, with party food etc.

Yes, households can do that – have a party for the family – but, households getting together for parties?  We’re not supposed to be doing that!!!

The main thing is, I feel that it’s unfair to present these scenes to children, as they might not understand that it can’t happen that way, this year.

They see the ads, parents might buy them the costumes and get in the weird-looking food, but……what happens, can’t be like what’s on the telly…..do the children understand that?

It seems unfair to flaunt what used to be in front of people when, this year, it can’t be/shouldn’t be.  If it’s not a good idea to tempt and taunt grown-ups with what can’t be had, it’s even worse to dangle these good times, which cannot be, in front of children.

Some might say they need to learn that life can be disappointing, but that’s a bit of a grim view!  Especially when the disappointment can easily be avoided.

Then, something occurred to me – how much do folk accept what’s on the telly as ‘real’ anyway?  Whether in advertisements, or otherwise?  They see images of real wars and real natural disasters, with real people being hurt. They see documentaries. They see re-enactments of gruesome events.  They see gratuitous cruelty in programmes which are meant to be ‘entertaining’.   How much has the line between reality and what is seen on the telly, been blurred in recent years?  Especially as new technology means that more and more impossible things are presented as ‘real’.

2020 has become the year of ‘virtual’ living, and maybe 2020 vision is even less clear about what is ‘real’ and what ….isn’t.

So, maybe I needn’t get so het up about it – maybe folk sit and watch the images of people on holiday, having a meal out together, buying stuff in shops – and, it doesn’t really strike home as being much to do with them in the real world, anyway.

Is the person watching an ad. for an exotic holiday they can’t go on, any more or less likely to hanker after it, than they did when they just couldn’t afford it?

Maybe the world on the telly is so unreal that folk don’t see it as relating to their lives much – if at all?

Maybe it’s best that way.

But – do children see it that way?  I still think the advertising people should be behaving more responsibly (though – they’re not known for doing that, are they?).  And if the ad-men won’t, the telly people should. 

Not dangling un-reachable carrots in front of the public, could, just might, help the public to deal a bit better with the realities of life in 2020.

I’m not saying it should all be doom and gloom and we should go around be-moaning our lot – just – accepting what we can and can’t have and do, and enjoying what is there – what is real in our lives.

Meanwhile, I’ll carry on puzzling over what the ads. are for, with the sound off.  They are often absolutely nothing to do with the product they are trying to sell.

For an observation on the morals of the advertising industry  – the film ‘How To Get Ahead In Advertising’ is worth watching…


I wonder how will the future see us, and our lives in 2020 – what will that 2020 vision be?

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