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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"The Jerk" as prophesy

I don't know about you, but I'm old enough to remember the movie "The Jerk" and to have seen it at the movies. It was kind of lame in the way all such parody comedies are, but what always stays with me is how the main character played by Steve Martin, is so emblematic of modern invention and business practice. He invents an attachment that makes it easier for a person to adjust his glasses. He makes millions off the invention, thinks he's home free. Acts like an idiot and then his invention blows up, people wearing his glasses piece go cross eyed. They sue, he loses everything and as he's being evicted he tries to salvage what he can and winds up with nothing....


The Jerk and Unsafe Products


...I think of that every time I see a new ad for a product. It's even a cycle. First come the ads, promising salvation from some sort of dis-ease and/or an improvement on some existing product. Usually I know that the new product is almost a copy of the first product and is in the same class of medicines as the original, just has a bromine atom where the other has a chlorine atom, a methyl chain where the other had something else, but is virtually the same. Those ads come heavy on the airwaves with some catch phrase like "ask your Doctor about...." and images of happy people doing happy things. Usually there is also a long list of side effects that would scare the bejeezies out of anyone if they weren't said so softly the targeted audience can't hear it. This has been going on for years and goes all the way back to when medicine was literally huckstered on the street with medicine shows. We've seen it with Opium, heroin, morphine, followed by an even longer sequence of artificial and semi-artificial opiates like methadone, oxycodone, etc. All with the same unintended, and sometimes intended side effects. This usually leads to the next phase in invention: for lawyers. "Call this number if you used ACME Drug AlphaDumwit".

The Jerk is a funny movie. And it is semi serious. But we have a lot of Jerks. And most of them are far more clever than the jerk because they are usually grifters who know when to bolt town, lawyer up & hide their money, before the law-suits come down. The Jerk had good intentions. The grifters don't. Anyway the movie was funny. It's still funny. There are a lot of real Jerks out there. Ultimately, Steve Martin's Character isn't one of *them*, he realizes he is a jerk and changes.

The Jerk on IMDB

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