Every day you are bombarded with commercials for things you have to buy to avoid ending up bitter and alone in a pile of your own, reeking filth. You trust these products, because they are state of the art and one of a kind, and because you are an idiot.
Or at least, that's what the advertisers think. It turns out a lot of these amazing, cutting edge products are really bullshit. Not just bullshit, but bullshit you could make on your own, for next to no cost. Such as...
#7. Audio Cables
How They're Marketed:
The world of audiophiles is a strange and frightening one. For them, the actual song is bullshit. What really matters is the sound quality. Do you want to listen to t.a.t.u all scratchy and low fidelity, whatever that means? Fuck no, you want to hear it with such clarity and richness the pseudo-lesbian antics are practically tickling your eardrums right alongside every awful note.
And you can't do that with your shitty Walkman. You need high tech audio equipment. Shit like Pear audio cables. They fucking rule, because they cost thousands of dollars.
Pear stays in business based on the "holy shit" principle. As in "holy shit, those speaker cables cost thousands of dollars" or "holy shit, I breathe through my mouth, and these cables cost thousands of dollars, therefore they must be the best and I should buy them."
Pear's Anjou cables apply "rigorous consideration of applicable scientific and engineering principles followed by real world testing." That means they're so highly advanced that when you use them to connect your 8-track player to your speakers, if it happens under a full moon, Aqua may actually appear and sing "Barbie Girl" live for you. No shit. It's happened before. Twice.
It's not like they're doing anything else.
What it Really Is:
Like any audio cables, the Anjou cables--and other insanely expensive cables like them--are kinda sorta just cables. Pretty much a few pennies worth of copper and plastic. Not only do the expensive cables not make thousands of dollars worth of difference, they don't make any difference. To prove it, skeptic James Randi offered $1 million to anyone who could hear the difference between cheap cables and the high-end ones in a big, public "you are full of shit" throwdown.
Seriously, just take the blind hearing test, cheap cables vs. Pear, and if you can pick out the difference, you're a millionaire. As it stands, Randi still has his million dollars and you can get some decent cables at Wal-Mart for a few bucks.
#6. Whitening Toothpaste
How it's Marketed:
Toothpaste ads are quick to inform us that every time you smile you're forcing the world to tolerate your corn-filled shitlog of a grimace and no one anywhere is enjoying it. Indeed, the fact is no matter how much you brush with your tube of Sponge Bob Bubblegum flavored toothpaste, your teeth are still manky, stained pillars jutting forth like the decrepit fingers of the damned. Brooke Shields wouldn't be half the woman she is today if she was walking around with the Crypt Keeper teeth she was born with
Brooke Shields, 1983.
Fortunately, toothpaste manufacturers offer redemption via just a few weeks of vigorous brushing with their cutting edged whitening toothpastes! What a miracle of modern fucking science!
What it Really Is:
Whitening toothpaste, by and large, is regular toothpaste with grit in it. It can be anything from aluminum oxide, which is the main ingredient in chalk used for billiards, to calcium carbonate, the basic ingredient of many antacids. Basically, if it's gritty, it'll scrub shit off your teeth. They could use sand in whitening toothpaste and get the same effect.
Or you could grind your teeth on a big bag of rocks.
Another popular ingredient is hydrogen peroxide; that stuff that mom put on all your scraped knees that fizzed up like nobody's business. Peroxide does have bleaching properties, but in toothpaste is at such a low level its effect is pretty negligible. So your dentists formulated and recommended whitening formula's actual working components could be mimicked at home if you drop your toothbrush on the floor and simply choose not to wipe all the crunchy shit off of it before brushing.
How It's Marketed:
Like us, you probably do your monthly load of laundry then pull out your graying boxers, tears in your eyes, and lament those fart starts that just won't come clean no matter how much detergent you put in the wash. And while we're on the topic, how do we get the barbeque stains off the other side of the boxers? Can't anyone answer our prayers?
Fuck yes, late infomercial barker Billy Mays can!
Rest in Peace, you magnificent beard.
OxiClean is so amazing that pitchman Billy Mays cannot keep his voice at a reasonable volume at all. He is losing his shit and it's because stains are history.
Did you see how Julia saved her home from the filth trail left by those two dwarfs on PCP? Amazing. If it hadn't been for Billy Mays and his ultimate weapon against stains, Julia would probably be turning tricks right now.
"You'd never know that I just killed a hooker in this bed. Thanks OxiClean!"
What it Really Is:
In fact, OxiClean is actually sodium percarbonate, a standard cleaning chemical that's been around just short of forever. You can buy it in bulk at most chemical supply companies or pool supply stores where it's sold to help balance your pool's pH. You can get bucket loads cheap as hell there, but you have to ask yourself if you're willing to deprive the Mays estate of the income.
Do you want Billy to have died in vain?
How It's Marketed:
After an evening of drinking Wild Turkey and smashing open coconuts with your forehead, chances are good that you're going to wake up with a splitting headache. Sure there's proven, over the counter drugs like Tylenol and Advil that you can get at the drugstore, but you know what else they sell at the drugstore? Tampons. Ergo, drugstores are for pussies.
You need some scientifically formulated awesome that's going to fix your mildly bruised frontal lobes and allow you to go about your day. You need HeadOn. We hear you apply it directly to your forehead.
If you haven't seen the commercials for this stuff, count yourself lucky. It's like a gypsy curse that grasps your brain with spindly, boney claws and won't fucking shut up.
"Apply directly to the forehead. Apply directly to the forehead."
Nowadays the commercials just repeat "HeadOn: Apply directly to the forehead" about 16 times. But back when it first hit the market they assured consumers that one rub of this giant chapstick of pain thinner was all it took to make your headache vanish.
In fact, they said it was "clinically proven." Hey, that sounds clinical, sign us up! And it provides fast, effective relief for headache pain. They even have a migraine strength version that probably contains opium or something. Best of all, the shit is available without a prescription, so thank God you don't need to offer your doctor a hummer to get your next HeadOn fix, you can just go to Walgreens and buy some.
What it Really Is:
But then the Better Business Bureau asked the makers of HeadOn to remove any "factual claims" from their commercials because there weren't a hell of a lot of "facts" to back up anything they were "claiming." HeadOn is really easy to duplicate even without the use of a fully stocked chemistry lab. If you'd like the same effect at home, you could rub a candle directly on your forehead.
HeadOn, as it turns out, is almost completely made from wax, with a small amount of extra crap--small as in parts per trillion--added in. That means it is, effectively, just wax.