Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mute Buttons

On another blog, Ideas Great and Dumb, I celebrate with humorous rhymes and short essays some of the most important ideas in history. However, I'll take an opportunity here to discuss one of the lesser, but still important ideas ... the mute button.

TV has basically become a resource. TV flows around us, through fiber and cables, microwave signals and broadcast airwaves, like an enormous river. And, like a resource, this vast flow of stuff has to be harnessed and controlled to be put to the service of humankind.

One of the most useful of these controls is the mute button. This is what makes commercial TV bearable. Not only does it allow you to suppress the multi-decibel volume jump when commercials come on, but you can play fun games by filling in your own dialog for the commercials. The stupid little animated gecko can now talk about how his British accent makes him a hit with the ladies. And that herd of Verizon stalkers with their Geeky-looking leader can now be recognized for what they are.

But the power of the mute button depends on the ability to un-mute the sound when the show comes back on. Normally, this is pretty simple. Just watch for the reappearance of your favorite characters. But lately, the networks have resorted to a dastardly trick ... they advertise the very show you're watch DURING THE SHOW. Imagine! You're sitting watching Family Guy, and suddenly, there's a commercial for ... Family Guy! What the deuce? How are we supposed to deal with that? All over the country, millions of remotes are suffering prematurely worn out mute buttons from these false alarms. Millions of Americans are startled out their stupor, causing elevated heart rates and other stress-induced medical conditions.

To heck with wardrobe malfunctions. The FCC should be all over this.

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