Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DVR post-election commercial trauma: the horror, the horror

This may sound odd, but sometimes when we watch a show recorded within the week or so we forget that we're watching a recorded program and don't reach for the remote to fast-forward through the commercials; those ads often are the same ones we see when watching live programming, and it doesn't strike us right away that we don't have to sit through them. (I'm sure advertisers would be happy to hear that.)

When we record something and don't get around to watching it for a few months (those shows that stacks up in the queue because we are interested but not enthusiastic) the commercials tend to be obviously different than the sort that are airing currently; an ad promoting a Presidents Day mattress sale is particularly blatant, but something slightly more subtle, such as an Old Navy spot where they're pushing short pants, proves equally distinct when watched well into autumn. There the flags to push that remote control button are up quickly. But generally with something that aired only a little over a week prior to actually watching it the commercials don't tend to be that different.

Of course, there are notable exceptions to that rule, and they are very much in effect.

This past weekend (the 10th/11th) we caught up on some shows that we recorded only the weekend before, and there was no mistaking those for live programs. The reason (as you probably can guess): The ads during the previous weekend's shows were almost exclusively focused on the election. Vote "yes" on this proposition; vote "no" on that proposition. Unlike spots for short pants which took months to seem irrelevant, those became outdated the second we stepped out of the voting booth.

Hmm. "Outdated" doesn't really cover it. An ad for a holiday-specific mattress sale is outdated but it is easily endured if the remote is not within reach (it can even prove mildly amusing with a faint hint of vague nostalgia); the election commercials are intolerable, not merely because they have further purpose (and half the time are testaments only to failure) but because they so dominated the breaks for weeks on every network and local channel. To avoid being inundated by them particularly the week prior to the election required literally not watching a single moment of live TV. However, even if one could skip the commercials one's mailbox was filled with mailers, one's answering machine filled with messages, one's commute littered with signs and billboards, and the news talked about the election. Even the candidates themselves were tired of the campaigns; everyone was ready for it to be over.

And a week later that fatigue has not come remotely close to wearing off. When we watch something recorded prior to last Tuesday and an election commercial comes on I would push a figurative old lady out of the way or step on a hypothetical baby to get to that remote and press the button to skip ahead 30 seconds. I will happily sit through ads for anything else just to re acclimate myself to not hearing about campaigns.

Regardless of who or what got your vote, there's something we can all agree about: Months from now there will be no nostalgia for those campaign ads, just as there will be no nostalgia for the campaign.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


So, what do you think?