Twenty Minutes into the Future

Blipverts are here. Well, sorta.

My commercial-radio listening in the US (not counting NPR here, because I don’t think the ads have quite the same feel) is mostly confined to the choice of the bus driver as I travel to and from work: sometimes ESPN, sometimes local hip-hop and R&B.

What continue to catch my ear are the ads, and specifically the ads for either financial or pharmacological products, since these come with a lengthy trail of legal ass-covering after the hard-sell. It’s exactly the same thing that appears on TV ads, natch, but seems both longer and more complex.

Since valuable time is given to this stuff, obviously it’s either mandated by broadcast regulations or considered to be legally advantageous. Small-print. Tedious, but important. Yet the process of packing the important text into the smallest possible broadcast time has progressed to the point where the legalese is simply not comprehensible by anyone with a brain that works at normal speed. Printed legalese, no matter how small, can be read. Even flashes of textual legalese on TV can be taped and frozen. But the only way I can imagine radio ad legalese being actually comprehensible would involve taping it and then slowing it somehow.

There’s something here that doesn’t fit. If all necessary legal rules are being followed by these ads, then the rules aren’t worth whatever medium they’re printed on. At least the ads don’t actually make people’s brains explode, so far as I know. They’re just worthless, a cynical letter-of-the-law technique.

I-Spy a new job title for the 21st century however: Reader of Legal Boilerplate Faster Than the Human Brain Can Process It. Big money.

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