Grab a bag of chips and say a silent prayer to passivity by sitting ceremoniously in front of the tube. This is how almost everyone spends a chunk of their weekly time and, regardless of personal opinion, we’d all better get used it. Unfortunately, television, specifically network programming and all that goes along with it, has become a dull, ineffective and unreliable source of entertainment.
Watching TV really is difficult. It’s supposed to be instant gratification that you can turn to when you’re bored and slumped over on the couch. Yet the TV expects your boredom to follow its schedule. If, after the tedious process of channel surfing, you don’t find a show that you enjoy then you are out of luck. If you are like far too many people, you will simply sit there and happily watch crap you hate.
Let us pretend now that network executives have decided to grace this particular timeslot with something that doesn’t suck… or maybe you just like bad shows. Regardless, you have found something worth your attention. Within a maximum of seven minutes it will be interrupted by loud flashing advertisements for whatever items are most marketable to the target demographic of the show. This consists primarily of shampoo, sports utility vehicles, and feminine hygiene products. In total, ten minutes of every half hour will be ads. You will either sit there and stare vacantly at this mess, or you will fix yourself a snack. The former will shrink your mind; the latter will expand your thighs.
Sitting and watching commercials is no longer even an option if you want to retain your sanity. Lately, there has been an influx of the ‘whacky’ ad style that tries to get attention by being as annoying as possible. Old Navy’s “denim particles”, Juicy Fruit’s “broken guitar guy”, and Chiclets’ “Asian schoolgirls in a karaoke bar” are prime examples. These ads are so stupid and nonsensical that I actually get depressed watching them. This appeals to people?
As technology continues to advance, we can begin to rid ourselves of the traditional television experience without sacrificing the mind-numbing stupor that it delivers. Most shows worth watching, and plenty that aren’t, are now available on DVD. With a $100 DVD player, you can happily cancel your cable subscription and legally watch TV on your own terms, commercial free.
If you are looking for a movie to watch then you have even more choices. Thanks to technology, movie theatres and rentals are no longer your only choice. If you happen to have digital cable and aren’t getting rid of it then take advantage of on demand movie channels. You choose the time, you choose the movie (from approximately 40), and best of all, you don’t have to learn about Juicy Fruit six minutes into the movie. This is definitely the most positive development I have seen with TV and certainly the way it really should be.
Yes my friends, alternatives exist.
Grab a bag of chips and spend the night watching Futurama season four on DVD. It will still make you stupid and fat, but the journey there will be much more enjoyable.