Afternoon InquisitionParenting

Afternoon Inquisition 5.7

Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) has seen too many erectile dysfunction ads, and he’s not gonna take it anymore.

Actually, he says he’s concerned that young people, including the curious grandkids of friends and colleagues, have seen too many erectile dysfunction (ED) ads. And it seems they ask too many questions, like “Hey, grandpa, what’s erectile dysfunction?”.

Well, in an effort to relieve adults of the headaches of engaging and teaching curious children something, Moran introduced a bill that would prohibit any ED ads from airing on broadcast radio and TV between 6AM and 10PM. The bill advises the Federal Communications Commission to treat these ads as “indecent” and instruct stations to restrict their broadcast to late night and overnight hours.

Are ED ads indecent? Should they be restricted or removed?

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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  1. By the way, I think one of the Viagra ads is definitely indecent. The subject matter is not indecent, but the perversion of the Elvis classic Viva Las Vegas into Viva Viagra is fucking criminal.

  2. Ha! I was just listening to someone on the radio yesterday talking about how skeeved out they got from ED ads and how they’re mostly worried about their daughter asking them “what’s a 4 hour erection, daddy?”.

    Yeah, they are gee-ross, and I would think totally unnecesary, just like ALL commercials for pills. I thought that doctors knew about medicines and when you have a problem you talk about it with your doc and they can suggest appropriate treatment.

    The worst are the Enzyte ads with “Bob” and the weird ’50’s vibe and lame double entendres. And that goddamned whistled melody that sounds like “Leave it to Beaver” (oh, geez, another double entendre? Geddit? Beaver?) that I can’t get out of my head.

  3. If their complaint was something about exploiting patients’ rights or providing inaccurate information or that advertising drugs does a disservice to the medical community, ok, those are legit complaints.

    Otherwise, just tell your kid what a goddamn penis is. Just because your 4 year old asks what a four hour erection is, it doesn’t mean you have to sit down and give her the gory details.

    What’s ED? What’s an erection? What’s a four hour erection? Same answer:

    “It’s something that happens to grown-up men. Nothing you need to worry about.”

    If your kid is older, you could tell him that it’s something that happens to a man’s penis, but that it doesn’t happen to kids and your kid doesn’t need to worry about it.

    Why is it so hard for people to just say the word PENIS to their kids? PENIS PENIS PENIS.

    What’s that in your pants? Penis.
    What’s that in your hand? Penis.
    What do we not play with in the living room when people come to the house? Penis.


    Half the kids in the world have them, the other half figure out what the are way before they’re interested in what the voice over on a Viagra commercial is saying.

  4. I think they should pass a law that requires all ED medicines to be sold on late-night infomercials hosted by people like Headset Vince and Billy Mays. “But wait, there’s more!”

  5. So what about ads for Beer, Wine & liquor? Could give children the idea that drinking alcohol is fun.

    What about ads for bras ? Could stimulate young boys sexual desires.

    Similarly natural men’s enhancement commercials could stimulate sexual desires in girls.

    And car ads, might make kids want to drive.

    if you can see what I’m getting at.

    So between 6AM & 10 PM nothing but McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Dunkin’Donuts

    wait a minute isn’t obesity a problem with children?

  6. Seriously, do they even NEED ads on TV about ED anymore? Doesn’t everyone know about it by now?
    Yeah, they’re annoying, but I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with them. Maybe the real question is: why are your kids paying so much attention to commercials?

    Oh, but what am I thinking? Plant ’em in front of the TV and tell ’em to shut up. And never, ever, ever let them ask you any questions. About ANY thing. Because FSM forbid they expand their brains at all or learn new things. And especially never let them ask any questions about sex because as long as YOU don’t answer their questons, they’ll never know anything about sex and then will never, ever have it. Right?

  7. I only watch Hulu anymore, and am blessedly free of any ED advertising.

    But on topic, I just find ALL medication advertising supremely annoying. “Ask Your Doctor. She’ll want to kill you in the face with a bear for doing so.”

  8. All commercial advertising that chases your buck, as opposed to purely informational advertising that does not, is indecent and should be withdrawn.

    And I’m being only slightly sarcastic by the way.

  9. Depends on your definition of “obscene”.
    I happen to find it “obscene” that useless products like Enzyte, Maxoderm, Extenze, etc. that don’t work and have microscopic print about “not being evaluated by the FDA” are allowed to be sold to gullible people.
    But then Head On, Airborne, etc. fall in the same category.

  10. “What’s that in your pants? Penis.
    What’s that in your hand? Penis.
    What do we not play with in the living room when people come to the house? Penis.”


  11. Furthermore, I think that terms like “Father,” and “Aunt,” and “Sister,” and “Son” should all be banned! After all, words that denote familial relationships are evidence of S-E-X having taken place! And we can’t have that!


  12. (cue cheerful whistling)

    Jim Moran is a fine, upstanding member of society. We should be proud that he’s rising to the occasion and standing up for what he believes in. Let’s hope he can keep it up long enough to ram the bill through Congress. Maybe he can slip it in as an amendment to the stimulus package. (Results may vary. Contact your Representative immediately if your stimulus package experiences uncontrolled inflation for 4 consecutive quarters.)

  13. @Elyse: THIS SO HARD!

    I’m tired of parents going, “Oh, no! Kids are curious, what if they ask questions … about sex?! Why should I have to actually parent and answer them??? Why can’t they just find out on their own?”

    Total cop-out.

  14. I’m sure if the ads were for pills that made women horny & aroused, there’d be no problem! Hell, why DON’T they have pills for that??

  15. Prescription drugs should never be allowed to be advertised on TV, period.

    But yeah, if you had to ban something, please get rid of those damn ED ads. They’re obnoxious.

  16. Offensive? Nah.

    Annoying? Absolutely. I mean, I understand that ED is one of those issues most people won’t bring up with their doctor on their own because it’s embarrassing. So they have to get the word out that there is a treatment available. But seriously, is it such a freaking epidemic that we need to hear about it every commercial break? It’s things like this that make me <3 my DVR so much, because I hardly ever have to suffer through commercials.

  17. @JSug: Isn’t it interesting that ED is this huge thing they have to advertise, but no one mentions the fact that many women have never even had an orgasm? Somehow, it’s not such a big deal when comes to the sexual health/happiness of women…

  18. @Outsider:

    “I’m sure if the ads were for pills that made women horny & aroused, there’d be no problem! Hell, why DON’T they have pills for that??”

    I believe they have creams and patches for that. If memory serves the active ingredient is testosterone. I’ve never seen them advertised.

    “I mean there is nothing TO get hard. Women are always ready!”

    Women don’t have erectile tissue per se, but there is an analogous response. Secretions change and certain tissues swell. Skip or rush this step and you’ll be noogieless for quite some time.

    I know you are just being funny, but some of this stuff is good to know if you ever want to have sex twice with the same woman.

  19. Well, in order to be fair, if they are calling ED commercials indescent, how about those maxi and tampon commercials. They are talking about the same general area. And diareaha medicine. These all have to do with problems in areas that are not to be exposed, so, what’s the difference?

  20. @Elyse: I completely agree with Elyse on this one.

    My problem is not the science based ED medications it’s those FSM damn “male enhancement” ads that piss me off. I thought there was some law against making false claims about products on TV.

  21. @davew: That’s the problem; I want to have sex once with many woman.

    In all seriousness, yeah, it was a joke :P My sex life might be pathetic, but that’s only because I’ve been married for 8 years. :)

    @infinitemonkey: That’s a good point. Add to that all those ads for “not feeling fresh”.

  22. To quote the TV show Mission Hill;

    Penis penis penis penis penis. Penis penis. Penis.

    I will say I’m honestly surprised it’s a Democrat that’s heading up this witch hunt. Sounds like something a Republican senator that got bored with doing his actual job would set out on.

    Maybe we’ll see a press conference tomorrow where Jim Moran announces that–purely for political reasons and not because of principles atall–he’ll be switching parties.

  23. @Outsider:

    “My sex life might be pathetic, but that’s only because I’ve been married for 8 years.”

    I must ask… have you had sex more than once? :-)

  24. “What do we not play with in the living room when people come to the house? Penis.”

    Damn, party at Elyse’s house, you bring the beer I’ll bring the ED pills, four hour erections for everyone!

  25. Peeeennniiiiiis. OMG. I am reminded of all the Penis drawings in Superbad. I have the sense of humor of a 10 year old boy, because that shit made me LOL so hard.

  26. As far as I can tell, nothing about erectile dysfunction ads is any more objectionable than any other medical ad. If parents are reluctant to explain the ins and outs of erections (yeah!) to their kids, they can easily switch off the television. Ostensibly, kids know what an erection is by the time they’re 10 or 11, the entire television and pharmaceutical industries ought not to conform their speech to the 0-9 demographic.

  27. Happiness,
    Hap- penis

    Penis, there I said it. Man that was hard.

    @marilove:”so i finished drawing this moster of a penis, a really veiny bastard”

  28. @skepticalhippie: When I was a little kid, I kinda had this problem. And it’s not even that big of a deal, something like 8 percent of kids do it. For some reason, I don’t know why. I would just kinda… sit around all day… and draw pictures of dicks.

  29. I’m going to have to pipe up here. I have worked with Senator Moran, and this isn’t his personal style, but his professional style. He proposes that which his constituents want. He’s received a lot of email, snail mail, and phone calls with this request. If you’re a virginian, and don’t like this idea, get your friends together and mount a counter-request. If more of his constituents are against than for, he’ll drop it, no problems. Remember that senators are representatives, and often they propose what their PEOPLE want, not necessarily what THEY want.

    So please, instead of blaming the Senator, complain about the idiots who are inundating him with requests for idiocy.

  30. They aren’t nearly as bad as the Extenze commercials. I would much rather explain ED than the worry that men have that their penis is tiny and they haven’t been able to compensate with a Hummer H2 or an AK 47.

  31. The comments on the linked article are interesting – a lot of people (sadly) agree with this bill.

    To me, it’s a freedom of speech issue – as long as you’re not lying (and within the bounds of racism, etc.), I really do believe you should be able to say pretty much whatever you want on TV or anywhere in the media, public, etc.

    Parents, monitor your kids’ TV watching. They should know what a penis is, and that ED is an ailment of the penis (man, I like that phrase “ailment of the penis”).

    Alternatively, ban all drug ads on TV – that appeals to me as well, but it’s trumped by my desire for freedom of speech.

    Plus (as others have noted) – seriously, isn’t there something more important this politician could be doing with his time?

    My favorite comment from the linked article:

    “Frankly, of my friends that [are] 50+ , not any need this stuff.” Really? How do you know that, exactly? How close are you with your friends?

  32. @Zoltan: “Alternatively, ban all drug ads on TV – that appeals to me as well, but it’s trumped by my desire for freedom of speech.”

    I dunno, I think ads regarding medication can be helpful. How many people knew about Valtrex, for instance? How many would have even asked if it existed? There is some good to letting people know that a new medication exists.

  33. BTW, as an aside, there was one product, back in the 80’s, it was some aerosol, and I think it was like V5, or something. For the longest time, I thought it was just a deoderant for women, but, I soon began to think it wasn’t for the underarms…..

  34. The child: ‘Mommie… What is erectile dysfunction?
    The mother, with contempt and bitterness dripping from every word: ‘Ask your father, he knows, ho yes, he does…

  35. Oh, should we also point out that advertisers tend to target their marketing… so you don’t see Viva Viagra during Hannah Montana because about 100% of the viewing audience is NOT men who cannot get erections.

    If you’re worried about your kids hearing about penis drugs on TV, maybe don’t let them watch shows targeting the 50+ male population? Maybe have them watch something age appropriate? Get some DVDs? Or even…. do kids still play at parks or do athletic sporting?

  36. If a kid is old enough and smart enough to ask questions about any aspect of human anatomy or physiology, including the reproductive system, there is no reason to not give them an honest answer, tailored to their level of understanding.

  37. @skepticalhippie: Peggy Hill FTW!!


    Hey, I hope nobody thought I was saying that ED ads are obscene! They’re just a little creepy – and I still think that prescription stuff shouldn’t be advertised. I’m not a doctor, but I’m the (Larry David) type of person who would get very irritated with patients constantly asking if so and so medicine was “right for them” a la the commercials’ instructions.

    I also think that a lot of these commercials contribute to hypochondria, especially the psych ones. I think that most people on earth fit the profile for depression that some of those ads suggest.

    Oh, btw: PENIS!

  38. @Elyse: Only problem with this is that I grew up watching Star Trek and MASH reruns. Those aren’t too terrible for a kid to watch, better than some things. Of course, whenever I watch reruns of those shows now, every other ad is for ED pills.

  39. @Elyse: I agree, my policy has always been to answer their questions. I want to keep the lines of communication open and I can’t do that if I sidestep questions or lie to them.

  40. ED is a real medical issue, and those who suffer from it should be encouraged to talk to their GP about it. But some of those ads are an insult to all that is right and good.

    It seems to me that if you’re going to ban or limit them, it should be based on properties of the specific ad, not just whether or not it’s an ad for ED.

  41. Well,

    I certainly think that we have to get rid of as many commercials as possible. (ED and “Summer’s Eve” and GM’s latest bomb).


    I’d do it because they’re STUPID, not because they are obscene.

    I’d let them run porn, as long as it wasn’t stupid. So who decides?

    The same folks that think the current batch is not stupid.

    So, either way, I’m screwed.

    I’m in the “let’s leave bad enough alone” camp on this one.



    BTW: Thank you, skeptics everywhere, for helping get rid of “Smilin’ Bob”. A lifetime of thanks, all of you.

    Life long gratitude for that.

  42. One of the things I liked about the show *Dharma and Greg* is that they would actually use the word *penis* on prime time TV. I have yet to hear *vulva* on TV.

  43. @PeteSchult:

    Well, if you watched Seinfeld, you’ve heard “Mulva.” Oh, and Delores.

    I gotta ask what the problem is with a 4 hour erection, though. My personal record is 10 hours. ‘Course, I was 20 at the time, and she was REALLY hot. Now that I’m 50, though (I’m a target audience! Woo hoo!), that number has, shall we say, declined somewhat.

  44. @StaudtCJ: I call shennanigans. Moran is not, nor has he ever been, a Senator. More importantly, if he thought that the requests for such legislation were stupid, he would not introduce it.

    Staudt, United States Representatives do not introduce legislation simply by taking a head count of calls and letters that come in on a particular issue. Especially an issue out of left field like this one. By reducing his amount of discretion to that of a voting booth, you accuse him of a complete lack of leadership.

  45. @RidgebackRunner: Hee hee, you said “erected.” Now I feel dirty.

    @skepticalhippie: Don’t worry, for the longest time I thought it meant “eff the what.”

    I think Mr. Moran is spelling his last name with two few o’s. But maybe he does it on purpose because he has a problem with o’s.

    Parents should just quit letting their four-year-olds watch South Park and Chris Rock and all of that nonsense. When kids watch age-inappropriate TV shows, they get age-inappropriate content. Imagine that.

  46. But the thing is, there is certainly nothing indecent about those ads. They invariably show 2 apparently married, late-middle aged heterosexuals whose lives are all happiness and romance. The only slightly suggestive thing that happens is when they start to go up the stairs and the doorbell rings. That damn brat home from college for a surprise visit. As far as I have ever seen, there is no penetration, no graphics of phallus’ going from flaccid to erect, no desperate old man wanking away trying to get an erection. There is only a suggestion of potential sex and the words “erectile dysfunction.”

    This is really pushing the boundary of the meaning of “indecent” out there. No sex, no graphic images, no dirty words, no fucking way it’s indecent.

  47. @infinitemonkey: Yeah, but if you were say, diagnosed with herpes months or years before Valtrex came out, you wouldn’t know about it. And you likely wouldn’t think to ask if new drugs came up. Especially since I imagine it’s not an easy thing to ask about.

    Same with ED, really. Many men didn’t realize that there was an option.

  48. @marilove:

    Well, that may be true — I know nothing of the efficacy of Valtrex. But is it worth the cost: Ten thousand 30-second endlessly rerunning spots of juvenile and insulting mendacity, manipulation, and deceit for one 30-second spot of value. I don’t think it’s worth the cost.

  49. I think that signs and pamphlets in your doctor’s office would be more effective. Maybe if people went to and communicated with their doctors more often, we wouldn’t all have to be subjected to balding and ED and asthma and cholesterol ads (etc.) all the time.
    Or, we could just not watch the commercials.

  50. It’s a difficult balancing act. On one end of the spectrum, you’ve got the possibility of someone being uninformed of a treatment for their condition. On the other, you’ve got the possibility of a company over-marketing a drug to people who don’t really need it. It seems like most scenarios fall somewhere in the middle but every so often, you get incidents like methylene blue or Ritalin.

  51. I agree with Dave. I totally disagree with the advertising of prescription medications directly to consumers. We are the only country that allows this.

    The average consumer has NO WAY to evaluate the claims being made or the risks involved. Many doctors will prescribe medications because patients seeing and hearing these advertisements badger them until they do so.

    It should be obvious WHY the pharma companies do this when you realize that their marketing budgets rival their entire R&D budgets.

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