Given the raft of erectile dysfunction advertisements viewers have suffered over the last couple years—as his’n’hers Cialis bathtubs and Smilin’ Bob abominations became part of the national water-cooler discourse—this was probably inevitable.
This, of course, is what I speak of:
Meet the Trojan Vibrating “Triphoria.” I made its acquaintance a few weeks ago, during a Criminal Minds commercial break, sometime between eight p.m. and nine p.m. on a weeknight. When it aired, my wife and I exchanged that rubbery, fish-imitating expression Bill Cosby used to abuse in Jello Pudding Pops ads, mostly because we weren’t entirely sure whether or not we’d shared a collective hallucination or whether we’d really just watched a vibrator commercial on television in prime time. We rewound. We re-watched. We exchanged the same aghast, palm-to-mouth expression for a second time.
Where to begin? The mock wedding-shower intro, full of cackling, desperate cookie-cutter housewives with chemically-windswept ‘dos? The voice-over actress enthusing over the product’s “five speeds, three pulse patterns, and three interchangeable tips”? The Triphoria box buckling and bending anthropomorphically during the aforementioned enthusing? The bride-to-be gushing to her groom-to-be that they received not one, not two, but three Triphorias, and his fist-pumping exclamation of excitement? There’s a lavender-tinged, soft-focus implausibility and a Sweet Valley High paperback surrealism to the entire 66-second shebang—no pun intended—as though its makers were aware that what they were filming was truly unprecedented, that they were boldly venturing where no Mad Men had ever dared to go before.
Again, this was probably inevitable. I remember giggling, as a teen, at Trojan’s campy, mock-hero-serial condom spots; their very existence was embarrassing because it forced me to confront sexuality in a goofy way, and in retrospect there was a quiet nobility to them. Sex-aide/product ads, now lack the same prescriptive, “this ad could save your life” urgency, because they place out-and-out pleasure at a higher premium than safety, underlining the never-ending hedonist swing (again, no pun intended) that our culture has been descending ever deeper into for as long as I can remember. The Triphoria isn’t likely to save anybody’s life; it merely lends the vibrator—a decades-old g-spot stimulator—an upfront, mainstream legitimacy that it probably doesn’t need, and gives the parents of young children something extra to either explain or carefully lie about.
Another televised taboo bites the dust, and we’re left wondering, en masse: which forbidden monolith takes the next pixilated tumble? Pocket pussies? Nipple clamps? Anal beads? Where will it end? And given the over-acceleration of our plugged-in society, how swiftly will that end come?
Again, no pun intended.