Hollywood’s latest “advance” in product placement technology and the Supreme Court’s decision to make a gift of America’s electoral process to big business could combine to make for interesting, though somewhat cluttered, TV.
TV production companies, apparently dissatisfied with their paltry earnings from placing, say, a jar of Skippy’s Peanut Butter on a TV family’s table (label facing camera), are now increasing product placement revenue by offering to place the advertiser’s product or message on the screen—after the show has been shot. In other words, if some character from your favorite TV show is having brewskies with his buddies, those beers—through the magic of post-production manipulation—can become Millers, Heinekens, Coors Lights or whichever suds factory comes up with the most cash. With a few clicks of the mouse–hey presto–the plain, beige baseball cap worn by one of the buddies becomes a magenta Nike cap. Passing billboards, tattoos, sky writing, anything is fair game. If there is a way to display a product or message in their TV show, they can do it—for a fat fee.
But, why stop with product placement? TV production companies could be in Samolian City by offering political placements.
The Supreme Court’s gutting of McCain-Feingold and virtual removal of any limit on the amount corporations are allowed to spend hypnotizing Americans into voting for “favorable” candidates and bottom line-boosting issues is the Court’s most jaw-droppingly partisan maneuver since Bush v Gore. With the evil trinity of mercenary TV producers, modern technology and this Supremely anti-democratic decision, you can now look forward to watching your favorite TV cop take down his perp in front of a bus stop that screams in bright red, block letters, “Don’t let Obamacare kill your family!” or “Socialized Medicine—Next Stop, the Gulag.”
Sounds outrageous? If you think corporations would exercise restraint with these “placed” messages, just look at the blatantly misleading anti-health care reform spots they’ve been running on TV, or remember some of the signs (and nooses) held high at the “I’m not telling where the money comes from” Tea Parties: Hitlerized Obamas, “Deathcare,” swaztikas, etc. But hey, would TV producers really permit such blatancy on their shows? See “fat fee” above.
And, the real beauty of this high-tech hocus-pocus is its ability to change with the times. Once insurance companies have vaporized health care reform and no longer need the show’s bus stop, the production company can re-sell the space before that episode’s rerun. Same hero, same setting, only now, as our hero beats the kapok out of the bad guy, the bus stop bench in the background features a message from the Coal Mining Association of America: “So the World Gets a Little Warmer—Wear Shorts.”