If you watch as much TV as I do... hell, if you watch 1/40th as much TV as I do, you've almost certainly come across this lovely infomercial for Billy Mays' newest breakthrough in chemical-based insanity, "Mighty Putty".
Did you watch the video??? Got you a little fired up, didn't it?!?! That's okay, your excitement is understandable, I mean just think of the possibilities that this marvelous product provides!! Never again will you or I have to suffer through the interminable task of affixing a mailbox to a piece of wood, and with this unfathomably convenient tube of Mighty Putty in hand, pack rats like me will finally have a use for all of those handle-less coffee mugs we've been hanging onto since the Carter administration! Recently had part of your skull removed for a biopsy? Not a problem, just smush some Mighty Putty into the gash in your head, sand to a smooth finish, cover it with beaver fur, and hope the tests come back benign! Mighty Putty you say? Nay, this is a MIRACLE Putty!!!
All sarcasm aside, I think most folks would agree that it does seem like a pretty sweet product. Sort of the ultimate in "when all else fails, use this crap" hardware accessories, right? Well in truth, I'm sure Mighty Putty is a great product, and I'm sure it can be wildly effective for use in a million more projects than that man-vixen Billy Mays showcased in his television spot, but there's one critical piece of information that this lovely advertisement fails to mention to the viewing public:
Mighty Putty is NOT an even mildly revolutionary product, not even close. It's just an epoxy putty, a product that's been on the shelves of hardware stores and auto supply retailers for quite some time now (though for whatever reason it's never been marketed to the general public before now). The infallible Mighty Putty the exact same thing as this product, J-B Waterweld...
...as well as this fine item, from Loctite:
That second one looks particularly familiar, doesn't it? Well here's the real kicker: If you call right now, Billy Mays will TRIPLE your normal order of two tubes of mighty putty for $19.99 (plus $8.95 shipping and handling) at no extra charge, meaning you will get SIX marvelous tubes of "his" supreme substance for the mere pittance of $29 out of your bank account! Holy son of crap, what a deal! Well, that is to say, it would be a really great deal if all of these other epoxy putty products didn't cost a shade over $5 a piece from your friendly neighborhood Autozone, Ace Hardware, or Home Depot, and those retailers won't force you to buy an extra five tubes that you'll almost certainly never end up using just to gain access to the first tube that you'll immediately put to work on one or two projects before leaving it to ferment at the bottom of your tool box for the next 5 to 10 years. Advantage: Every retailer that isn't Billy Mays.
None of this is to say that Mighty Putty isn't an exceptionally useful product, as I'm most certain it is, but it is no more useful than any other epoxy putty on the market, so why would anyone buy it when they could get a manageable quantity of the same product for 1/6th the price at a local retailer? The answer to this question is clear: Because Billy Mays is a goddamn magician of the television... hell, I'd buy shares of land on Whoopi Goldberg's chest at triple the market value as long as Billy Mays was selling them to me on mah teevee.
Before I leave this blog entry, I'd like to relay a quick story about me and Billy Mays that dates back about 4 or 5 years. I was working at a summer camp at the time, and was charged with watching an unabashedly whiny 7 year old kid named Zach for the better part of two weeks. Now I've never been one to care much for whiners, as they remind me far too much of myself, but I quickly came to appreciate young Zach when I learned through passing conversation that his father was best friends with Billy Mays, and had been so for quite some time - if that's not a reason to take a liking to a child in need of guidance, I don't want to know what is.
Anyway, as myself and the other counselors were packing up Zach's belongings before he went home, one of us stumbled across an autographed picture of Billy Mays tucked in with his stuff. Naturally, we commented on how awesome it was that he had something like this, to which he replied that Billy gives those to him all the time, and that we could have it if we wanted it. This sacred article of infomercial memorabilia was eventually bestowed unto me, and I've kept it ever since:
Some might view this short story of mine as just another reason to despise poor old Billy Mays, after all, what kind of a jackass feels the need to repeatedly give his best friend's son autographed pictures of himself? I mean, he probably sees this kid at least 5 to 10 times a year, so would even one autographed picture be appropriate, let alone a deluge of them? What the hell is wrong with this man?
I'll willfully admit that those are perfectly valid questions, but please excuse me if I don't feel like answering them right now. Perhaps I'm just another blinded fanboy, foolishly bumbling along in the wake of the man's massive celebrity, but I still love Billy Mays, and... at least I hope, I always will. God bless you Billy, and may your next ripoff product bring the world even more joy than your first.
Saturday, February 9, 2008