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Big (Tech) Business at Work, November 18, 2001 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: November 18, 2001
"Big (Tech) Business at Work" [permalink]
    keywords: television, media, advertising, marketing, movies, music, performance
    soapbox #: 320
    written: December 4, 2001
    words: 1356

"Big (Tech) Business at Work", an Essay

So I'm an armchair quarterback. I like to think I could do things better than those who actually DO do it. Of course I'm overstepping my bounds, but come on, some stuff is just inexcusable:

P.E.V.R.

I'm a couch potato right now. I love TV. There isn't enough time to watch all the junk that I want to watch each day. Well, there IS enough time, it's just that all the good stuff is stacked into 3 hours at night... Survivor, Real World, South Park, Enterprise, X-Files, Simpsons, Daily Show, NBA basketball, Amazing Race, Boston Public, Ally McBeal, Sex and the City, NFL...

Sure, I could spring the cash for an underfeatured Tivo. Or UltimateTV. (owned by Microsoft, of course; insidious bastards making in-roads into television, see) But the real issue is, why do TV networks only air their shows once a week? They struggle to come up with new shitty sitcoms to fill their primetime slots for every day of the week, so you get abominations like The Ellen Show and Elimidate and the Bob Patterson Show. Why not just look their most popular shows?

I mean, shit, I watched the same damn episodes of the Simpsons for 4 years of college. It was always on twice a night, once always when I would have dinner in the cafeteria, and another when I was doing my "studying" at night. People will watch good shows over and over...if they're good. So why not re-air new episodes a few times in the week, or at least later in the same night? Maybe I forgot about it or missed it, but wanted to watch. FOX and CBS and the rest don't give me any options.

They only encourage recording devices that can remove advertisements and make only watching certain shows (and not watching the filler shows) easier for viewers... So stupid.

How about running a simple headline service on top of digital cable and satellite menus? Like they have in France and whatnot? Just throw some money at CNN to feed headlines into it so people can see shit without having to wait 30 minutes for FOXNews to rebroadcast it while they continue their never-ending revolving door of DIFFERENT people voicing in on the SAME tedious story. I don't care if Judy or Joe or Jim say it's a letter, the point is it's still the same old dumb unopened letter. Do you think throwing in a new person makes it a whole new story again?

Only a Buck?

The collect call commercials were made to fit one demographic, and that is 30-50 year old advertising executives. They feature washed up media whores and have ridiculously bad punchlines and drone on for what seems like an eternity. And then they air once more for a total of two times per advertising break. Who enjoys these things? Do Mr. T and Carrot Top make YOU laugh, because I'm sure not. Calling collect is just plain outdated and so are the people who okay this shit. They're probably thinking, "It's so bad, it's hilarious, just like Beavis and Butthead, and young people LOVE Beavis and Butthead."

Terry Bradshaw makes Jerry Lewis look funny, handsome, and suave.

Want to spice it up? Continue the Eva Savealot campaign, but put her in a bikini, and get other hot and POPULAR chicks to dial painted numbers on her chest. Sex may not translate into better business, but at least it makes our salted wounds ache less.

Bring It On, Weenie!

That pre-movie trivia bullshit is grating. "Oah-kay, Cletus, that there clue say's 'a big boat', 'an iceberg', and 'Leo and Kate'. WHAT MOVIE COULD IT AM BE?!@#" It's insulting to the intelligence. Then maybe they'll put some bad themed muzak over the speakers while you wait...soothing your pain with artificial butter and popcorn which actually tastes pretty damn good for some reason, probably because of the circumstances.

Then you see some big promo ads from some shit real estate agency or some local business that decided to make its advertisement in MS Paint and use photo footage from the 70's. It looks like the cover of a porno tape. Not that I would know.

Anyway, couldn't they jazz this shit up a bit? You go to those small movie theaters like the classic Austin Draft House in Austin and they play COOL shit, like footage of those crazy Japanese game shows where you have tiny Japanese men being dragged behind tractors across a field, and all they're wearing on their asses are skimpy John Stockton running shorts. Last one holding onto the tractor wins. And then the music playing over it was some cool Beastie Boys track off their newest album. Meanwhile, you get a beer and a big ol' hamburger and ice cream float served your way. Now THAT, my fucking friends, is a fucking movie-going experience. Even better is when you came to watch some corny ass martial arts flick or small indie comedy.

Instead, money goes into providing new 3-4 foot high LCD flatscreen screens that must cost a fortune, all so that we can, er, watch movie trailers in all their, uh, LCDeriffic flatscreenastic glory that CRT TV monitors just can't reproduce. God forbid they add things like polling devices to take fun audience-interactive polls and to play games. God forbid they show short films by indie directors financed by big producers willing to take a chance by financing their views right before movies. God forbid they do something so simple as to take pop hits and run them through those visual equalizer things that create interesting patterns on screen. I mean, really, let's pique the viewer's interest a LITTLE.

All these suggestions are so simple to implement, so basic... Yet they will never happen... The big companies adhere to precedent wherever possible, and don't want to rile things up too much. Meanwhile, they get indie film theaters, national coverage cell phones, and Tivos chipping away at their largesses, because they sit there like a wounded buffalo underneath a cliff full of nursing vultures.

It makes me sad because the customer is becoming more and more alienated from the companies he puts money into, and meanwhile, those companies have the nerve to tell him he's their number one concern. You wonder at what point it gets better, or breaks down.

Finally, this would not be complete without thanking companies that DO do their jobs. DishNetwork did a great job installing the next day, keeping the service up, and making modifications to my service over the phone. Were I to choose again though, I'd get DirecTV for that NBA Courtside thing or whatever. Plus you could emulate it...

AMS does a flawless job hosting my site. They answer my tech support e-mails eerily quickly, and keep everything up and running smoothly. Far cry from Digiweb, that unexplainedly had everything fall apart routinely.

Finally, Verisign actually did a commendable job helping me change providers quickly and helping me change my domain's info. I got caught up in some verification issues, but their people were all nice and patient and helpful. After having spent the days after Excite@Homo and AT&T played chicken until service shut down on the phone with a bunch of cluebies AT&T hired to handle all the pissed off out-of-service customers, you gotta appreciate when some companies do things right. Man, those dropped calls and busy signals from being pushed around AT&T's phone system were a drag, plus talking to some angry bitch who let her supervisor talk for her, the woman who spoke in broken English with an Indian accent, and a slew of other people who said they didn't have the access to help me, really added up to a horrible experience. AT&T sucks AND blows. It's just a full-time sucker and blower.


 
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