I watch cable news, so I am learning about erectile disfunction. No, not electoral disfunction: but erectile disfunction. The cable news watching audience apparently suffers from this disproportionately, at least the guys who watch MSNBC. I have never watched Fox long enough to get the pattern.

There are two brands of medications for ED advertised: Cialis and Viagra. And they each have a play a different tune in advertising their product.

Cialis commercials are cute.
Cialis commercials are about that moment when a couple pass from doing something together to that moment when they are deciding to have sex. Some are playing touch football; another is refinishing lawn furniture; still another is cleaning the attic. I think that this is a very tricky moment for many couples, especially for day-time sex. Hey, we are all busy people and we're not cavemen anymore. Libido is declining as we age, and men and women relate to sex differently, or so I am told. For most middle-aged couples, unscheduled night time sex is rare enough, much spontaneous afternoon delight.
One Cialis commercial shows a wife bring snacks to her husband, who is watching a game on TV. They are wearing matching team shirts. She sits down, and then jumps up and cheers for the team at an exciting play, while he watches her with bemusement. Sexytime!
What a second! There's a game on, there are snacks, and the hometeam is winning? For many, sex could ruin a moment like that.
I watch these Cialis commercials like a hawk, sometimes frame-by-frame trying to find the exact moment in the little story in which one partner makes the approach, and is met with affirmation. As much as I go the tapes, I can't ever find the transaction. Too subtle for my eye. Anyway, after some back and forth, to and fro, too subtle for the human eye, the couple heads off for what the British tabloids refer to as a "frank and full exchange of views." Then, on to the matching clawfoot bathtubs, for post-coital soak in the afterglow. Every Cialis commercial ends with a silhouette of a couple in parallel clawfoot bathtubs, holding hands. There are some which show these bathtubs for real, like at the end of dock extending out into a lake.
The parallel bathtubs are the strangest part of sexual habits of the Cialis people. Have you ever seen a bathroom with matching side-by-side clawfoot bathtubs? I watch a lot of HGTV and I have never seen such a thing, not even on "dream bathrooms and sexy spas." And why would you drag those heavy things out to the end of the dock? What are they for? Cleaning fish? And do you think you could persuade your partner to make sweet love with you in a dead fish slop and goo bucket?
Further, can you imagine two middle-aged people, in the middle-weight division, trying to convene a sexual congress in such a configuration?
BTW, the couples in the Cialis ads are always not quite attractive. I mean, they are better looking than most folks, but in a generic kind of JC Penney catalog kind of way. They have a lovable dorkiness about them, especially the men. I suppose that is necessary for customer identification with the protagonist: "if he can score, then so can I". The men are distinctly non-aggressive looking, no unpredictable male desire there.

The Viagra commercials are completely different. No women appear in Viagra commercials. And the men are handsome. rugged, middle-aged men, lean scruffy guys in well-fitting blue jeans. They drive trucks, or vintage Mustangs. They have good jobs; one guy runs a power plant, I think. Or, at least, he has the jobs of turning off the lights before he goes home.
The Viagra guy is always on his way home. That's the plotline. He's on the way home, and some obstacle or another, gets in the way. His sexy vintage Mustang overheats; his beat-up old sexy trucks get stuck in the mud. But Viagra man just takes care of business. He gets out his tools and unsticks what's stuck, unjams the jelly and flips the switch on the thingamajiggit and loosens up the watchmacallit. And then he goes home to a soundtrack of lonesome guitar, like a Ry Cooder soundtrack to one of those Robert Duvall movies. Viagra man lives way on the high prairie, and the bedroom light is on in that ranch house at the end of that long driveway. One hopes that the kids, the laundry and her job at the IGA grocery store haven't driven Mom straight off sex for the night. (OK maybe it's Bruce, the accountant with the Brokeback Mountian poster collection and the cowboy fetish). Because Viagra man is coming home.

Whatever the obstacle, Viagra man overcomes it. Whatever the problem, Viagra man fixes it. When a tool is balky, he knows what to do.

What that's it from MSNBC's erectile disfunction mini-theatre. Next up, another commercial from America's Energy Industry with another clue to why MSNBC has such thin coverage of climate change.


  1. Steve Cook12:17 PM

    Viagra guys also seem to exist in a world suffused with blue light--code for an ancient metaphor signifying unsatisfied male sexual desire? Cialis couples all sport fixed, matching, grill-baring grins on the run up to their separate bath tubs denouement. Is it some side effect? But then the woman wouldn't be taking it; I'm puzzled. Thank you, Tom, for helping us to explore this new frontier of human knowledge.

  2. Anonymous8:05 PM

    I'm reading this blogpost INSTEAD of watching Chris Hayes on MSNBC. Thank you, Tom. The analysis is right on and hilarious. And this from a retired advertising executive!


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