“This is it,” the narrator cheers as the bearded everyman in the athleisure hoodie steps through his front door and winks at the camera. “This is go time, baby! This is the time you’ve waited for. All. Damn. Day.”
If you’ve watched Hulu in the last several months, chances are you’ve seen the ad—a joint advertisement for Hulu and Visine—that I’m talking about. The premise of the spot is that the man watches so much Hulu on his various devices throughout during the day–at the cafe on his iPhone, on the couch with his iPad, sometimes with friends but most often alone, alone, alone—that he uses Visine to grease his eyeballs for further Hulu watching when he wants to see another episode. It’s the most depressing commercial I’ve ever seen in my life. It makes me want to close my laptop and fling it like a shuriken at my flat-screen TV, then open the window, climb down the fire escape, and run until my legs give out or I find a very cold body of water in which to sink forever.
This man’s horrendous pathology isn’t presented in any sort of knowing or ironic light, but in the straightforwardly aspirational and masculine tone of a mass-market beer commercial. With its unintentionally withering second-person narration, it invites to see yourself in this shell of a man. “[It’s] your time to stay in,” the voice badgers, mocking you even as it eggs you on. “C’mon,” it continues. “Just one more episode.”
From a quick search through Visine’s social media profiles, it looks like their marketing strategy has circled around some version of “embrace the void” for a while now. “Can’t stop scrolling,” the ad below reads, as if such a condition is one that should be embraced and aided along, and not cause for deep reflection and possible psychological treatment. My body is biologically incapable of further enabling my addiction to the feed; I have overloaded my tear ducts. It’s time to lube up, baby! Who’s got the Visine??
— Visine (@Visine) December 7, 2015
Of course, the ads are only so depressing because you really can see yourself there, pawing and scratching at your dried-out organs as your brain fills with prestige drama plotlines and Twitter owns. If you’ve got any humanity left, being confronted with such an ugly reflection of yourself might prompt you to power down your screens and do something else. If you’re like me, you’ll probably just keep watching.