Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pause your brain in one room; resume it in another. Or not. Whatever.

Reason # 7,458 we are doomed as a society: Direct TV. Well, it’s not really the idea of Direct TV or digital programming that signals our downfall. It’s more that our entertainment needs seem to have become all but obsessions at this point.

Exhibit A. You know that Direct TV commercial? It opens with a man watching a movie or television show. On the screen, we see some kind of CGI robots or droids or whatever they are in a battle of some sort. In other words, a scene almost no woman alive would watch on purpose with much enthusiasm, much less be concerned about missing the whole thing or part of it if they left the room. But back to our male viewer: In the midst of the action, the guys hits “pause,” walks into his kitchen, and on another very beautiful, very ‘this year’s model’ flat screen TV, he hits “play,” and continues to watch the scene.

And what was so important in the kitchen? Why did he need to leave the comfort of his living room to spend time in there? Good question. I’ll tell you what he wasn’t doing there. He wasn’t standing at the stove stirring the risotto. He wasn’t trying to distract himself while he spooned strained peas into his squirming toddler. He wasn’t even taking food out of the oven and to settle down in front of the set to continue watching the movie while he ate dinner.

So what was it? What interrupted him to begin this whole mini-drama? What disrupted his entertainment and called him away from room # 1? What could possibly be so important and demanding that he had to resume watching in a new room?

He had to get his microwave popcorn. Some MICROWAVE popcorn. That takes something like three minutes to prepare.

Dear God.

Let’s dissect this for a moment, shall we?

A viewer enthralled with a scene. Got it. (We’ve all been there although in my case, I can practically guarantee you there was a Hugh or a Colin or a Brad involved.) In the Direct TV commercial, the guy is so enthralled that he doesn’t want to miss a second of the action and he stops the action before walking into another room. Fine. We’ve all hit pause. But he can’t wait to continue watching so he starts the action up again in room # 2, because forcing himself to find his way back to room # 1 to resume watching the original scene is just too painful and demanding to imagine.

Fine. Sure. We all refuse to miss a moment of anything on a screen. We have digital recorders that allow us to pause a live broadcast and start it on command. Or stop a streaming movie and start it when we want to watch again. Or record a movie on one set and watch it on another. Super. I don't object to technology.

I object to our attitude. Our entitled, oblivious attitude about what we think we need to own in order to feel validated as technology-savvy consumers. To feel like consumers who are ahead of - or at least keeping up with - the game. But even that assessment sounds snotty and entitled, too, doesn’t it?

Try thinking of it this way. My boys told me about a tweet from Drew, an artist who writes Toothpaste for Dinner, that went something like this: “I was using the light from my laptop to look for a Skittle I dropped and remembered that millions of people don’t have clean drinking water.”

Yup. What he said.

No comments: