When I was a kid, I used to play this game when I watched TV. Sometimes I played with my sisters, but mostly I just played it alone.
The game was: How Much.
How Much was played during commercials. Bad commercials.
Example: A commercial with a woman with huge armpit stains. She gets in an elevator, and the other folks crinkle up their noses in the the look that says Peee-Yoo.
So – How much money would it take for you to play the part of the B.O. Lady in the commercial? Knowing all your friends will see it (and your enemies) and will tease you for the period known as Forever.
Now, this was back in the early sixties, and I was a kid, and money was different, so basically the game was
C) Not For Any Money.
I figured I would be the B.O. Lady for $100.
I’d be the extreme dandruff lady or have the heartbreak of psoriasis for only $10, though. Because in those commercials, the victims get cured and a boyfriend too.
But no money in the world (or a boyfriend at the end) would get me in a diarrhea commercial.
I still play this game during really bad commercials. But my financial requirements have gone way up. It’s:
A) Ten Thousand Dollars
B) One Million Dollars
C) Not For Any Money.
But the interesting thing is – my threshold for humiliation is much higher – meaning I would be willing to play almost any role for $10,000. I could be constipated or phlegmy or have bad breath or even bad children for a decent paycheck. Embarrassed? As Liberace used to say about the ridicule he endured – “I cry all the way to the bank.”
And the reason is simple. I can separate myself from a character in a commercial. My self-esteem is not based on what others see. Adult diapers? No problem.
What is a problem, however, is what I promote. Not For Any Money is my answer to products that are dangerous or politicians or causes that I would never support.
And the How Much game came in handy several years ago. A headhunter called me with a very lucrative offer to work for a big tobacco company.
Adult diapers and stool softeners can actually help people. Tobacco cannot.
Money is nice. Money is necessary. But Ethics are also necessary.
Although the benefits (or at least lack of harm) for lots of products can be debated, endorsing an idea or person is a much more substantial question for me. How Much is enough to even appear to lend support to policies that would hurt someone or limit someone’s rights? That espouse Hate?
Of course, I have the luxury of being in a position to say no.
If I were starving, would I endorse a product or person or idea I hated? Maybe.
I hope not.
Once in a while, I still ask myself,