Saturday, February 11, 2012


Once again this year there were no commercials selling wheelchairs during the Super Bowl. I assume this is true. I don’t know for sure because I only saw about one third of the Super Bowl. I can’t bring myself to watch the whole Super Bowl because so many zillions of people are watching it and I’m a knee-jerk contrarian. I like to defiantly zig when the others zag, even if it doesn’t make sense. If I see a NO PARKING sign, I say to myself “Screw you I’ll park here if I damn well please.” If I see a NO SMOKING sign, I say to myself “Screw you I’ll smoke here if I damn well please,” even though I don’t smoke. This powerful contrarian impulse is why I’m tormented by DON’T WALK signs.

The last time I saw a commercial selling a wheelchair was while I was watching Bonanza. True confession: Last winter we had a blizzard in Chicago. I was so utterly snowbound, physically and emotionally, that I gave up and watched Bonanza. This is another sad story of the tragic human consequences of climate change. There were all kinds of other commercials aimed square at the cripple demographic during Bonanza. There were commercials for lawyers who will get you a big settlement for all your pain and suffering and commercials for other lawyers who will take the structured settlement the lawyer in the previous commercial got for you and turn it into a lump sum. There were commercials for incontinence pads with empowering names like Poise and Prevail. But they’re still delivered in discreet brown wrapping so your mail carrier won’t know you piss your pants.

But there were no commercials for any of this stuff during the Super Bowl, which shows what Madison Avenue really thinks about cripples. They think we sit around and watch Bonanza. They think we’re eternally snowbound. You’ll never see a commercial for a wheelchair or incontinence pads during the Super Bowl for the same reason you’ll never see a coffin commercial during the Super Bowl: it’s too goddam depressing. People want to relax and enjoy the game. They don’t want to be reminded about shit like death and wheelchairs and pissing your pants. (The closest thing I ever saw to a coffin commercial was when I was in college in southern Illinois. There was this company that sold gravestones. In their TV commercials they frequently offered a limited-time special deal: buy a gravestone now and when you die you get a free erection. I swear this is true. I clearly remember the words FREE ERECTION flashing on the screen.)

You won’t see a wheelchair commercial on the Super Bowl ever though the wheelchairs you see in the commercials on Bonanza have cutesy names to make them palatable, like LI’L RASCAL. God I hate those fucking names! What can’t a wheelchair have a badass name, like THE BADASS? Motorcycles have badass names but wheelchairs have to be cutesy. This double standard says something quite profound about our collective psyche, though I have no idea what.
What more do cripples have to do to be validated by Madison Avenue? If cutesy doesn’t work, it seems like nothing will. It makes you want to throw up your hands and go watch a Bonanza marathon.