It happened this morning. I was watching MSNBC when a local advertisement came on. A mortician spoke earnestly into the camera. He was wearing a Sears and Roebuck suit. He had very pink skin. And then the jingle, which was sung by an ear piercing soprano. She sang: “we’re here for you when you need us, Fettucini’s Funeral Home!” (Not their real name…I confess I’ve forgotten their true name, so aghast was I by the pitch.) What does it mean to be a funeral home professing its total readiness for my needs with a wincingly cheerful tune? According to the syntax they’re not there when I don’t need them. The advertisement was metaphysical.
Of course one should never ask what something commercial means. The answer is self-evident. The funeral business is tougher than one might think.
The plastic, hyper cheery, a-social insensitivity of the lyric was ghastly.
I tried to picture the scene: the sweating mortician and the jingle gurus sitting on naugahyde chairs, listening to saccharine songs promoting antacids and foot powders, all of them recognizing that one product is the same as another, it’s not the steak its the sizzle, and why not sell “happy” when it comes to the dark trade?
Why not indeed. And the mortician forked over his money. I imagined he had a failing business. That was the only thing I could bring myself to believe, for the opposing view was too much–that a jingle can bring in buckets of grief and cash. But experience suggests it must be so. And so I lost one more unit of innocence.