today i was watching something that i taped off of TV a few years back. you know, that time long, long ago before TiVo? i was working on the computer at the same time (hooray for multitasking!) so i wasn't fast-forwarding through the commercials. i looked up during a commercial break, and, forgetting for a minute that i had a tape in, i became confused at why i was watching a promo for "The Mummy Returns". that's when i started paying less attention to my work and more attention to the commercials.
maybe it's because i am an advertising major, but looking back on old commercials is almost like opening up a time capsule of trends, fads, TV shows, movies, businesses and news flashes long forgotten. during this specific video my favorites were promos for "Dark Angel" (oh, jon.), that car commercial with the hipster people in the car grooving along to "start the commotion" and a promo for the 11pm news that said "he's been in office for 100 days, hear what some local politicians have to say about the presidency of george w. bush." i would give anything to see that report.
so what this has all brought me to is the contemplation of what devices like TiVo, DVR and DVD mean not only to the future of advertising, a hot topic of the moment, but also for the history of advertising and of popular culture. what happens when we are no longer witnesses to the past? maybe it doesn't mean all that much since most people who have taped anything off of TV usually fast forward through the commercials anyway, but i can't help feeling that something is being lost in computer chips and lasers. i guess i am just mourning the loss of the unexpected gems that can be found when doing things the "old fashioned" way. the constant investigator in me loves to touch for myself and uncover and discover things i had forgotten about.
sometimes even just a commercial or a newsbreak from long ago can hold new meaning in the present. have you ever watched a movie you haven't seen in years and realized that character you had only envisioned in your head as an unknown actor is now someone who has become famous? for me it is a strange but great feeling like a light bulb being flicked on or a piece of a puzzle fitting itself into its correct position in my brain. the actor in that movie now has a face and an identity instead of just identifying features, and that can make the old movie something entirely new to be re-experienced. for me, it is a great phenomena, and watching some of those old commercials feels the same way to me.
i can even still remember very vividly a commercial that was taped onto a video by my parents when they recorded mary poppins for me. i must have watched that movie hundreds of times as a kid, mostly without skipping the commercial breaks. to this day i can see a little blonde girl sitting in a pretty white dress singing about oscar meyer weiners and how her mom doesn't let her eat them without a bib since they are so juicy and she can't ruin her dress. you know who it turns out that little girl was? the girl who eventually played stephanie tanner, pre-Full House. if my parents had just bought me a recording of that movie i wouldn't have that memory of how i liked that commercial and i would have never made the discovery later in life of who that girl was. i guess that really sounds like a trite thing to feel people will miss out on when watching everything on DVD, but it makes me wonder that maybe it's these little moments in our lives we lose that start to add up under our noses and leave us feeling less than thrilled with our human experience; that we don't stop long enough to discover and appreciate the "ah-has!" of life anymore.
i know this random reflection on something as insignificant as the loss of an obviously inferior form of TV recording seems out of character me. after all, i am the same person who, on most days, would curl into the fetal position on the bus floor if someone were to take away my iPod and the person who often refers to my powerbook as "my baby." i also don't really know where all this is heading or what conclusions i'm trying to make here. maybe i'm just trying to justify my desire to hold on to the shows and movies i have taped off the tv.
the other weird thing i find myself doing (which may be slightly related to the rest of this random tangent i am currently boring you with), is when a movie or something comes on tv that i own on dvd or vhs i still want to watch it on tv. i can own it and not watch it forever, but the minute it's on tv i'll get excited and find myself watching it. could i avoid the hassle of commercials by putting in the actual movie? yes. do i do it? no. does that make me weird? probably. is this news to any of you? probably not. =P
so if you're still reading this post , congratulations to you. i'd give you a prize for making it to the end, but i don't know who you are. so instead, you win my appreciation! awww. don't you feel good now? oh wait, here' are fun quotes from an episode of will and grace i saw the other day, you win that.
Jack (singing to karen): Karen and Milo sittin' in a tree K-I-S-I-N-G.....wait?
Jack (on a soccer field dancing around, not paying attention): Here I am. I'm the mean machine. I'm fast and lean. I'm....what rhymes with lean? Penis? Hahahahaha. I just said penis.