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Time Life: the most fabulous of all infomercials

| Thursday, November 15, 2018

Lina Domenella | The Observer

We’re all familiar with the situation. You’re up really late or really early and just trying to watch reruns of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” on ABC Family, (that’s right, I have no respect for FreeForm) or “Friends” on TBS because that’s all that is ever on any TV station. But just as you prepare yourself to sing along to the theme song of whichever show comes on, white letters appear over a black screen, reading: The following program does not reflect the views of [insert channel].


At this point you’re upset, but for a brief moment, you engage in this game of infomercial roulette. What could it be for? Will it be those ladies who seem very eager for you to call them? Or will it be a message for older men to eradicate some of their physical downfalls? Perhaps you’ll be convinced to buy a new type of grill. If you’re really lucky, an old white man will tell you all about the power of focusing all your energy toward praising the Lord through monetary donation to his questionable “foundation.”

But no, this time around you are gifted with a special presentation from Time Life. Elvis’ “Don’t Be Cruel” starts playing, accompanied by a music video. After five seconds, it switches over to Ritchie Valens’ “Donna,” then over to Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue.” Hard cut over to an older gentlemen — older men really have a monopoly in the infomercial game — who apparently was a relevant figure in the ‘50s, with a nickname like Bowzer, and he’s standing next to a younger blonde woman who definitely looks like one of your mom’s friends. You find them standing at a burger stand, pretending to eat some fries and sip on milkshakes, all while standing next to a technicolored jukebox. You know, things that people did in the ‘50s, probably.

The dialogue is painful. Old man says something like, “Ahh, the ‘50s. A time when cars had muscles and so did the men. And women, well … those were the times.” The younger woman nervously laughs, smiles and through the cringe, as you watch her soul being crushed, just says, “You got that right.”

Together they name a bunch of songs from the era, all while showing clips of all the different songs available on the six CD box set they are trying to sell you.

This same formula is then applied to a myriad of musical eras and genres. ‘80s chart toppers? Time Life’s got you. Christian rock songs? Yup, they got it. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performances? You already know.

And all you can do is sit there in disbelief. No, not because of the awful dynamic between the hosts, but because they’re trying to sell you a six CD box set of songs from the ‘50s at the cool price of $135. It’s 2018. Do they not understand that even the most inept geezer could go on Spotify and listen to all of these bops FOR FREE?

But they’re not selling you on the music. Rather, they’re selling an experience and nostalgia. And they do a good job of it. The hosts address you like you’ve been friends with them for years. They remind you of a time when things were simpler and music was music. A time that you probably weren’t around for, but you somehow feel like you were. They introduce you to songs that you may not have known and remind you of songs you love. That’s where they get you. You almost want to pick up the phone and call before their limited time offer (that in no way is actually limited) is over. Then you remember how ridiculously expensive it is and change course.

Either way, you keep doing you, Time Life. Keep swindling people of generations past out of their hard-earned money. Keep educating insomniac children about the great music of the past. Just stay away from my checking account, you thieves.

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About Carlos De Loera

Carlos is a senior majoring in History and pursuing a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy (JED). He is from the birthplace of In-N-Out Burger, Baldwin Park, California and is glad to be one of the over 18 million people from the Greater Los Angeles area.

Contact Carlos