Infomercials as an Addiction


English 150G


Analyzing Essay Final Draft


Have you ever found yourself at two in the morning, awake, sitting on your couch, eating Cheetos, and watching TV? Odds are, you probably have. Either the insomnia you experienced was the result of stress, an early nap, caffeine, or chocolate. If you’ve found yourself at a point where the garbage man scares the pop-corn out of your lap or you’re mesmerized as to how early the birds start chirping, then most likely you’ve experienced something similar to the following.


"So I found a combination of herbs, that, when mixed with cleansers like witch hazels and alcohols, can deep clean underneath the surface of the scalp, and clean out all the debris that blocks the hair from reaching the surface. And the amazing thing is that after we cleaned, we looked at the scalp and hair sprouted out! Hair that\'s been growing under the scalp for five years sprouts out! I should be in most of the major medical journals in the next few months for finally ending baldness in the human race. Everyone should have all their hair back in six months to a year, permanently!” (Infomercial for Sable Hair Farming System).


Now at this time of night you just might find yourself in a groggy state of numb amazement at this new and amazing discovery presented before your very eyes! Your tired mind is probably too lazy to convince you of otherwise, so it simply agrees with you and resumes picking at the popcorn mush that has become your brain. You set your Cheetos down on the coffee table, rise to your pink slippered feet, and begin an emergency search for the telephone. Your confused mind is frantically trying to record the number flashing on the television screen so you won’t forget. At the moment, you aren’t awake enough to realize that the number has been flashing as such for almost an hour now and probably will be for another still.


Eureka! You finally find the phone stuffed deep into one of the sofa cushions and retrieve a credit card from your wallet as you dial the number. After being put on hold for 17 minutes, dodging multiple offers for other products or additions to the one you are already purchasing (only 34.99 extra!), you’re finally told when to expect your package. Just before you hang up, you are told that you’ve been automatically approved for three different money-saving clubs and that for the next month you can enjoy a free trial of all these clubs and what they have to offer. Confused but too excited about your Sable Hair Farming System, you say thank you and hang up. Now you really aren’t able to sleep because you’re simply too excited. What a rush!


Three weeks later, you receive a package in the mail from ABC Infomercials, Inc. Too excited to speak, you tear open the box to find a three-inch bottle of watered-down shampoo, a paper booklet, and a cheap plastic tool that appears to be a turkey baster with “Sable Innovative Hair Regrowth Super-Applicator!" written down the side. As if you couldn’t be disappointed enough, one week later you receive three bills for $29.99 each for three money-saving clubs you’ve never even heard of, let alone used.


This is a common scenario. Many have fallen victim to the appeal of infomercials, their flashy products, celebrity endorsements, over-use of exclamation, and late-night impulse. However, some simply cannot escape the hold that programs such as the Home Shopping Network possess over their viewers. Some simply do not learn from the last time they were disappointed or scammed by an infomercial. So they buy again… and again, and again. Once one gets to this point, they flirt dangerously with the concept of an Infomercial Addiction.


Studies estimate that as many as 17 million Americans, better than one in 20 of us, has an addiction to alternative shopping such as infomercials and The Home Shopping Network. In a country of conspicuous consumption, compulsive shopping is the smiled-upon addiction, one of the few disorders that’s still okay to laugh at. But in all reality, infomercial addiction is not a laughing matter.


Manhattan psychologist April Benson, author of “Compulsive Buying and the