I think everyone has seen at least one infomercial. You can't sleep one night, so you turn on the TV. Next thing you know you're sitting there staring at a half hour long commercial for something you'd never want to buy. I'm exposed to 3 or 4 a night as a general rule, because while I don't actively watch TV except for 2 or 3 shows, I tend to have a TV for a number of reasons. I don't have a radio, so it provides the sort of background noise one tends to need when working late, it exposes me to movie previews which I should stop listing since they stopped being informative, and perhaps most importantly, it lets me know how late it is. If always know I should finish what I'm doing when the infomercials start.

Getting back to the matter at hand, most infomercials fall into one of the following categories.

  • Videos: These are hideously popular lately. In fact, they tend to overflow the confines of infomercials and spawn off regular commercials which seep down into the respectable time slots. As short commercials, they're just irritating, in full half hour length form though, they're absolutely hideous. Basically, they're trying to sell you what I assume is an hour long video, with content ranging from nudity, to nudity and practical jokes, and nudity and crude humor. If it's just nudity, you're subjected to a rather tame half hour, of girls lifting up their shirts to reveal big glowing signs saying things like "Totally Uncensored!" When there's comedy thrown in though, you get to see the top 50% of that tape. The top 25% twice if they're feeling stingy. Now, the thing is, this will quite possibly be the least entertaining garbage you're ever going to see. The knowledge that this is the GOOD stuff is just plain sickening. Amusement Factor: Nauseating. Assessment of those responsible: Unfunny idiots with cameras.
  • Get Rich Quick Version 1: These get by on energy rather than actual product endorsement of any kind. If you don't pay careful attention, all you'll see is the people talking about how "thanks to this system, I'm making ten thousand dollars every month!" Oh, and of course the huge disclaimer about how that isn't typical under all of them. I've seen enough of these though to catch what they're actually trying to sell you. A book on how to get advertisements out into the world. Now, this only works if you actually have some sort of product you're trying to sell out of your living room to people and don't know how to get started. That's a pretty small market, particularly when you're also requiring people to be watching TV at 3 AM. So while a book of advertising tips COULD actually be useful to some people, the ones these people are selling clearly suck, because they're written by people who think infomercials are a good form of advertisement. Amusement Factor: Low. Assessment of those responsible: Well meaning people who think luck can be taught.
  • Get Rich Quick Version 2: These ones are pretty creepy really. Unlike the rest of these infomercials, these offer a way of making money that probably would work. The catch is, you make money by ruining people's lives. Like the first batch of get rich quick schemes, you're buying a book of tips on how to emulate the financial success of the people you're looking at. However, these people didn't make their money by selling their shoe racks over the internet. They made it by doing something like this: Step 1- Find someone who just lost their job. Step 2- Pay off their mortgage with their bank, gaining the voodoo mortgage holdership to their house. Step 3- As soon as your victim misses a payment, seize the deed, kick them out on the streets, and sell their house to someone. Step 4- Find next victim and repeat. Again, you could probably make money doing this, but you'd probably feel better about yourself if you just robbed a bank. Amusement Factor: None. In fact it's rather scary. Assessment of those responsible: Secretly agents from Hell... or possibly Microsoft.
  • Amazing New Products: For just 5 easy payments of $20, you can get something which MIGHT be worth ONE easy payment of $20, but are in no way worth $100, even with the free carrying case if you order now. These are some of the more amusing infomercials however. The products being pushed ARE actually useful, to the extent that if someone gave you one as a present, you'd probably use the thing pretty often. Still, none of these products have half an hour's worth of uses. So you get maybe 15 minutes showing you how a home vacuum pump can help preserve your food, or how a 3 foot high air mattress is pretty darn comfy, but after that they start getting desperate and show you how you can also use that vacuum pump to keep your clothes flat and stiff, or murder household pets, and how a 3 foot high air mattress can survive a tiger sleeping on it, or a small nuclear incident. I still think if I slept on one that was on a hardwood floor, it'd be flat within a week though. Still, my house actually contains a few products I've seen on infomercials, like those big circular light things and the anti-friction things for moving furniture around, and they honestly are pretty handy. Of course, they WERE purchased at significantly less than the infomercial price. Amusement Factor: Moderate. Assessment of those responsible: Probably got the idea to do infomercials after buying get rich quick books.
  • Amazing Medical Breakthrough Version 1: These prey on the vanity or hypochondria of the audience. Basically, you buy a bottle of pills, which supposedly prolong your life, make you lose weight, or enlarge whatever part of your anatomy you want enlarged. Or at least what they hope you want enlarged. I mean, my breasts are already far too big for my own good. I don't want to look like a circus freak. Most of these products get discredited pretty quick, and the ones that don't make me rather worried. Like the stuff that says you lose 20 pounds in two days if you drink it. Given that "miracle" diets are still bound to the laws of physics, twenty pounds of your mass will be leaving your body in only two days. You can't sweat out that much water that fast, your bladder does not have that sort of immense capacity, and even if this stuff gives you Montezuma's Revenge, I doubt you have that much hiding in your intestines. For this thing to work, it'd have to somehow convert a good percentage of your body fat into some sort of greasy liquid which vacates your body as you sit on your toilet all weekend groaning. Amusement Factor: Low. Assessment of those responsible: Total liars.
  • Amazing Medical Breakthrough Version 2: These are beyond the shadow of a doubt the most amusing thing on TV between the hours of 3 and 6 AM. Some complete foaming at the mouth nutcase makes some leap of intuition and realizes that doing something very simple will cure all diseases, reverse the aging process, and generally give you blissful immortality. For maybe the first ten minutes, they'll seem to have a solid logical basis for their claims. As the infomercial goes on however, their true colors will show, and pretty soon you have people gesturing wildly and screaming things like "If Michael J. Fox ate enough coral, he'd grow a new brain!" Oh, and by the way, unlike half of the other examples in this rant, that there was an exact quote from an infomercial on right now. Amusement Factor: High. Assessment of those responsible: Belong in a nut house, but MAN they're funny!

So there you have it. The main classifications of infomercials. I'm sure this list will prove to be immensely valuable to uh... hmm... well I already wrote it, and that's your rant! So quit complaining and live with it! Or something. Anyway, in order to break up the monotony of anime reviews, this week's other-section-update is preview of the next Tyranny book.

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