Cruisin’ down the street in my six-fo’, I was treated to a radio ad regarding the Sportsman Channel that can only be described as apocalyptic. It goes something like:
“Verizon Fios is violating your freedom and First Amendment rights by removing the Sportsman Channel, the only channel dedicated to hunting, fishing, and all things outdoors. Verizon is attacking your way of life. But thank Jesus that Xfinity loves America and still has the Sportsman Channel. Switch to Xfinity now.”
Slightly paraphrased, of course, but the gist is there: Verizon is attacking your way of life by eliminating a television station (that, by the way, still exists elsewhere).
Freedom Of Speech Precedence
Now, we all know that United States law extends the 14th Amendment to corporations. So, using the 14th Amendment, we can assume that Verizon has freedom of speech. Verizon has no responsibility to be fair, balanced, or anything really (except for in compliance with FCC regulations, none of which state that every channel must be carried by every provider).
Verizon is well within its right to remove the Sportsman Channel. I would assume that Verizon offered customer surveys and collected demographic reports to judge whether or not it was economically viable to continue to provide Sportsman Channel.
Considering that “New figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show that the number of hunters 16 and older declined by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006 – from 14 million to about 12.5 million,” I’d say that there is evidence that Verizon is making a smart business decision.
Finding The Audio From Sportsman Channel
So. Being the curious sort that I am, I went searching for a recording of this radio ad, and instead stumbled upon something even better:
Summarizing The Findings
Intro: Visually stimulating command of “Arm ye’selves and rise up against the bourgeois usurpers!”
Announcer: Excessive use of “your” to imply that this action is directly aimed at YOU, yes YOU, you and you and you. Verizon hates YOU!
Announcer: “You may have the right to bear arms, but with Verizon, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO WATCH GUN SHOWS ON TV.” Oh lordy, the horror! THE HORROR!
Imagery: Blonde girl carrying belt-fed machine gun. Text overlay: “Seized by Verizon!” OH NO! VERIZON GON’ COME GIT MAH GUNS!
Text: VERIZON WANTS YOU TO WATCH SOMETHING ELSE LIKE THE HISTORY CHANNEL, NAT GEO WILD, DESTINATION AMERICA, OR, GOD FORBID, THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL. WHAT DO WE LOOK LIKE? LIBERAL FASCISTS? NO!
Comparison: “Why not suggest Outdoor Channel? IS THAT BEING DROPPED NEXT?” WE DON’T KNOW! WE’RE JUST IMPLYING THAT IT MIGHT BECAUSE WE THINK YOU’LL AGREE THAT WOULD BE A BAD DECISION!
Announcer: “Is Verizon targeting YOUR WAY OF LIFE?!?!?!?!?!” MUH AMERICA! WHERE MY MURICA GONE?!?! “AND PLANNING TO BAN IT FOR GOOD?” OBAMA WANT BAN MY GUN!
Best Part: The Sportman Channel also has fishing. The commercial includes 2 seconds of fishing. Deliberate pandering to gun rights activists? Me thinks they doth protest too much.
Announcer: “FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS” Gunshot. ATTACK VERIZON WITH GUNS TO PROVE THAT GUNS ARE A VITAL PART OF AMERICAN CULTURE AND LIFE AND THEY DON’T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE! ATTACK! …using words.
Exit: “TAKE ACTION NOW” on top of a target. Real subtle there, Sportsman Channel. REAAAAAAAALLLLL subtle.
Why I Hate The World
No matter how ridiculous these ads seem to me, I know that they’ll rile up a certain type of person, the type of person who is swayed by pathetic (in the rhetorical sense) arguments, the type of person who acts before thinking, the type of person who resists change more than a system at equilibrium.
These ads play into the worst aspects of mankind, and are a favorite of political campaigns and hot-button social issues. Regardless of whether you’re trying to feed starving children, rescue abused animals, or return the Sportsman Channel to Verizon FIOS, loaded and hateful rhetoric has no place in the modern world.
Discourse that avoids logic and runs straight into emotion exploits ignorant people and presses all the buttons of a rage disorder.
In conclusion, I’d like to say FUCK THE SPORTSMAN CHANNEL, not because I disagree with hunting, fishing, or gun ownership (I am a gun owner), but because the marketing department thought that it was acceptable to release radio and television ads misusing and abusing imagery and speech in such a blatant and pandering way when at the end of the day, we know that Sportsman Channel is only worried about losing what I assume is a massive contract from Verizon FIOS. In fact, even though they’re carried by Xfinity, I’d assume that Sportsman Channel will be in dire financial straights if Verizon does not renew their contract.
If Verizon waits like, a year, there won’t be any money left for the Sportsman Channel to use to protest Verizon’s decision. So, Verizon. A waiting game it is.