Every day it seems as though more and more Americans have been programmed to automatically resent the success of others. Much of this has to do with how effective Democrats and their allies in the media, academia and Hollywood have been at demonizing the wealthy, especially those in corporate America. Whether it's Wal-Mart, pharmaceutical companies, oil, timber or high finance, these industries who have done so much to improve our way of life have, at various times, been singled out for the worst kind of character assassination.
And it's worked, but when a corrupted pop culture is your only reference point, how could it not?
This is what makes the Discovery Channel's new show "Pitchmen
," so special and worth a look. Not only is it entertaining and well produced, but it's also the rare celebration of the American entrepreneurial spirit combined with the added bonus of doing one of my favorite things: "Pitchmen" takes you into a universe you know nothing about - direct response marketing - and shows you how the gears turn.
‘Hi! Billy Mays here..."
You've heard the voice (you've definitely heard
the voice), you've seen the commercials. Along with his partner Anthony Sullivan, Billy Mays is the most successful direct response, as-seen-on-TV pitchman in America today. This is a multi-billion dollar business and Mays and Sullivan stand on the summit as the go-to guys for wannabe millionaires and inventors all over the world.
The show's concept is genius and the structure simple. Each week, garage and basement inventors get a few minutes with Mays and Sullivan to pitch their inventions, but only a couple get the shot at the dream - an infomercial produced by two guys who know how to create overnight success better than anyone else in the game. But even then nothing's guaranteed. Everything comes down to a single moment after the first targeted ad buy when the sales are calculated.
That's the entertaining part. The lesson lies in the subtext.
Mays and Sullivan are obviously wealthy individuals who live the good life and are very well respected in their chosen field (all measures of success), but what the show reminds you of is how hard people in their position work because when it comes to success the hardest work is not in achieving it, but in hanging on to it. And it's not just the hours, though they always seem to be on the go, but also the frustrations, risks, setbacks and stresses they face just like the rest of us, but at a level where mistakes and bad decisions are magnified by a hundred.
[youtube rByUvXh2lkE nolink]
Pop culture's demeaning of the wealthy comes mostly from an intentional soda straw view of the trust-fund babies and Gordon Gekkos of the world, but Mays and Sullivan are much more representative of who the successful really are. Both are self
, intelligent, driven individuals, undoubtedly shrewd in their negotiations, but at the end of the day the business they're in is making dreams come true.
I have little patience for talkers, and the world's buried in them, but dreamers who lay it on the line to bring it home are my kind of people. Even when it's a crazy/bad idea, the guy who summons the guts and drive necessary to force talk into something tangible has my respect; and what I respect most is that after all the work and financial risk, all the emotional investment of hoping and dreaming, they walk into a room and risk a "no."
These remarkable individuals are also reminders that there's no such thing as overnight success. My favorite part of the show is the back-story on the inventors, and almost all of them put everything they have into their idea. They quit good jobs, ransack their savings, mortgage their homes, and pour heart and soul into their own long shot. Some are sober as a judge, some are pure eccentrics, but you root for all of them because "quit" isn't part of their vocabulary.
Someone once said that you're not a failure until you blame others, and that's as true a statement as you'll ever hear. I respect the doers, but those who remain undaunted also have my admiration. And this is a show stocked with those who've embraced the uniqueness of a country where you can go for it.
"Pitchmen" should be integrated into a required course in every American high school and college campus. But that will never happen because to put a real face and heart on those living and hoping to live the American Dream undermines decades of victimology, the creation of leftist narcissists through self-esteem minus accomplishment, and the political benefits of class warfare.
For now, at least until the inevitable Very Special Environmental Episode
, "Pitchman" is my first must-see television show in years. Without saying so and perhaps without even knowing it, the show not only celebrates the greatness and humanity of our uniquely American capitalist system, but delivers a very real and human look at the freedoms now under siege everywhere the left dominates.