Such is the case with Quietus, a homeopathic remedy for tinnitus that's currently running ads on American radio stations. Tinnitus, by the way, is the malady that's described on the company's website as "a ringing, buzzing, or whizzing that originates within the ear." Remember the stuffy feeling in your ears, accompanied by a high-pitched whine, that followed that last loud concert you attended? That's tinnitus. The Quietus site doesn't say what's in their pills or how they work (although delving deeper into the website, it's revealed that it was "developed by a drummer"). But it does promise that you'll experience relief from ear pain, dizziness and, we assume, that annoying sensation that your kitchen smoke detector won't shut up.
But savvy film buffs and avid readers may recall that Quietus was a key element of both P.D. James' dystopian novel Children of Men, and the 2006 film adaptation by Alfonso Cuarón. In the book, Quiteus refers to government-sanctioned mass drownings that are available as an option to elderly citizens who can't afford nursing homes. In Cuarón's film, Quietus is a suicide pill that's freely advertised to residents of an overpopulated, financially disadvantaged future world. The drug's cheery ad line is "You decide when." You can see some of the in-film advertising after the jump.
In James' piece, it's probable that the name came from Hamlet's famous soliloquy in which he debates the merits of offing himself, contemplating whether "he himself might his quietus make." It's hard to imagine where the manufacturers of the tinnitus drug got the name, though -- perhaps someone heard it in passing, and never bothered to investigate the source? Or maybe they just figured that, what the hell, it sounded good and most people will never make the connection?
At any rate, should you hear the ad for Quietus on the radio, you can have good chuckle -- or an embarrassed cringe -- as you think about the implications of that name. Perhaps it's not so far-fetched to imagine Soylent Green or Spice ("For psychic powers and blue eyes -- now in Super Sand Worm size!") on drugstore shelves soon.