If you've turned on the tube these last few weeks, you've probably been a collateral casualty of the biggest televisual war of attrition in recent memory. No, I'm not talking about the scripted skirmishes between cable channels, nor am I referring to the Battle of Zombie Talking Points that ate most of our brains during the election. I'm talking about the now never-ending throwdown between two of the most in-your-face salespeople our mediascape has ever manufactured: Geico's unnamed gecko and Progressive Insurance's chipper saleswoman, Flo.
No doubt, you know them both -- the green lizard's smile and cockney accent feign earnestness while the aproned Flo goes for the same effect through the saccharine enthusiasm of an "Office Space" character. It's mildly cute, but don't be fooled: As the best-known avatars of the insurance industry, these two are aggressively competing for our cash through re-education-camp levels of repetition, hoping to harass us into buying their product.
Certainly, there's nothing new about hard sells from TV charlatans. But these two represent something different, something apocalyptic -- and I say that not merely because their maddening ubiquity has driven me to the brink of insanity. I say it because they are peddling the kind of commodity that offers little tangible worth, waging a fight that promises no valuable innovation, and representing a larger insurance and finance sector that's hollowing out our economy.
To find out what I'm talking about, read my whole syndicated newspaper column here.