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Vulnerable

By Pam Drake

July 15, 2014

Believe it or not. It’s your choice. However, before you decide be aware.


“You need to get those stockings that zip up the side,” Tari told me when I was complaining about tired legs after a long day at work. Tari has MS and is totally bedridden. She watches TV constantly and believes every ad she sees. This started me thinking. I was an actor and understand the process that goes into commercials and ads. What is seen on the screen is not real. It is advertising.


What does it take to get into a film or a commercial? Well, it doesn’t take much. I was in a couple of industrial films. These are films that are used for training purposes. Industrial films are used by government, medical industry, etc, to inform the public. I liked them because they paid well and a shoot only lasted a day or two. These commercials had a good message and didn’t sell anything.


So who are these people in the commercials? Well, very seldom are they the people they portray. Rarely, in fact. When actors are called to a commercial audition, they go totally unaware of the commercial product. When you sign with an agent, you are listed in categories that fit your look and talents. I once went on a call where they were looking for black men, housewives and prostitutes. So here I am in a room full of the above which was really quite comical. Just for the record, I was there as a housewife. Sell. That’s what it is all about. The best way to sell is to use people who might be like you and your neighbors. And, sometimes they pay stars big money to sell their products as well. Just a paycheck for all involved. It doesn’t mean endorsement.


I was in an industry film where I played a dock boss. I definitely was never a dock boss and got the role by just walking into a room with a shocked look on my face. Well, I walked in twice and got the main role. In the next film, I was an alcoholic mom. We shot the film in a house that was scoped out by the advance team. They just found a house, knocked on the door, got permission to shoot, and we shot three industrial films that day in the same house. I had been producing plays on drugs and alcohol for years so this role was easy for me. I was a shoe-in. But it was not real. We were actors pretending to be the people we played in a house that certainly did not belong to any of us.


Recently I have been zeroing in on these cheaply made commercials. Sometimes you actually see an actress in one role selling a product and in the next she is on a sofa with her newly matched love of her life. A picture is shown of ‘before’ and then we see the ‘after’. The before picture is often not the same person. I tried to read the small print (disclaimers) posted on these commercials. The words are blurred and pass quickly from the screen. Don’t be fooled. These are commercials just trying to pull you in. The man who says he is a veteran is most likely not a vet but a body builder. The woman who has an infirmity probably is an actress who loses her infirmity immediately after the camera stops rolling. This is an industry of actors, directors and marketing strategy. This is an industry making money by pulling you into buying the sponsors’ products.


As a side note: A friend of mine received a phone call telling her that she had something wrong with her computer and was asking permission to get into her system to repair the problem. Beware. These are more than likely people trying to get into your system and to capture you information. If you receive such call, never give permission. Immediately call your Internet provider and tell them what has happened. They might in turn tell you to contact the police. Do it. Make a difference in stopping these criminals.


These are the ramblings of a woman who cares and wants to pass it on. My friend with MS is vulnerable. Aren’t we all?


Pam Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at pamldrake@gmail.com. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.