misophonia-on-tvGuest blogger Marty reminisces about the days when he could watch TV without misophonia triggers. 

Subliminal Seduction

by Marty

By my mid-twenties I figured out how to cope with various noises, and misophonia was becoming a small part of my life.  I didn’t watch much television, but there were a few shows that made me laugh and if I was home, I would watch The Waltons with my mother.

During a commercial, a corn cob appeared and moved toward the camera and then underneath the camera.  When it was out of site, the soundtrack became an unbelievably long, loud, and ugly chomp.  Then the corn cob reappeared with a bunch of mangled kernels so that there was no doubt about what the sound was supposed to represent.  I got up and left.

Why was I so shocked?  This is the first time I heard a trigger sound on TV.  It was 1972.  Up until then, watching TV was safe.  I worried that this might be a trend.  The next few months confirmed this.  We were treated to apples and potato chips being crunched.  There was no closed caption or mute switch then.  I moved and the TV stayed behind.

Four years later, I was given a book, Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key.   It was about tricks used by the advertising industry to trick people into buying their product. It has since been criticized.  But what I found interesting was his insider account of the above incident.  The advertisers association did not approve the ad at first.  They were afraid that it was so disgusting that there would be a backlash, a public demand for regulation.  There was no backlash.  Then they green-lit all kinds of eating and chewing noises.

My question is: If we were always such a tiny minority, why were there no chewing sounds between the beginning of TV, around 1950, and 1972?

Rent some old movies.  See how rare the triggers are.  One of my favorite movies was the BBC’s House of Cards made in the 1990’s.  I don’t remember a single trigger.  This year, the American remake was released.  It was one trigger after another.  People always had something in their mouths when they were talking and you could hear them chew barbecue ribs.  Why?

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