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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pain In The Ads or The Bottom Left Corner of the Screen is a Whore

I had been told about this "radical" new ad strategy TBS has employed to promote the Bill Engvall show, and frankly I'm surprised there isn't a boycott on TBS as we speak.

Imagine, you're watching your favorite episode of Family Guy, and it gets to that really funny Mort Goldman part. You're ready to watch and laugh, when all of a sudden, THIS happens...
(Note: Bonus Annoyance Points go to The Love Guru...for fucking existing ten years after it'd actually be considered funny!)

WHAT IN THE GREAT NAME OF JESUS FREDERICK HORATIO CHRIST WAS WHAT?! Bill Engvall is going to pause the fucking show I'm watching right now (you know, the one I'm actually interested in) so he can go and talk about HIS goddamn show (you know, the one I actually DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT!) I don't care if you can start and stop any show you damn well please, so I can see your sister and you flaunt your inbred family tree! I really don't want to see you and your illegitimate spawn when I'm trying to laugh. You don't make me laugh, in fact in the Northern parts of the country you make hardly anyone laugh. So do me all a favor, get off the fucking television, take your family with you, and let me watch Family Guy in peace, or so help me I (and the American public) will take a run at you like Larry The Cable Guy at a bikini contest.

It's no secret, cable networks have been getting pushier and pushier with their advertising. At first, they put their logo on the bottom of the screen. I get the purpose of that. People don't know if they're watching Sci Fi HD when they're flipping channels and haven't memorized the channel line up, plus at least it was transparent or small enough that it didn't obscure anything in the program. So, the bottom right hand corner of the screen was claimed.

Apparently, that wasn't good enough. The left hand corner was bare, and the cable networks again had a great idea: let's put up the name of the program our viewers are watching. Again, if you're flipping through the channels and haven't memorized the cast of The Mummy by now, it's nice to know that the networks are kind enough to say, "Hey, we're in the middle of The Mummy. You want to watch it with us?"

Then, things took a turn for the worse. The lower left hand corner of the screen became a slave for advertising, the first step being advertising other shows on the same network. USA, TNT, TBS...all three have little graphics that pop up after a commercial break (because we REALLY want more commercials when we go back to the actual program we're sitting down to watch!) advertising other shows or their own website, or sometimes other products sponsoring the program currently on.

As if this wasn't bad enough, everyone has their own special way of letting us know what else we should be watching. USA will sometimes have their characters stumble into frame, do something very "in character", and then show us the name and time of said show. This is after, and only after they tell us what we're watching now, and then later. The most annoying display though, was when they showed the Indiana Jones trilogy the weekend before the movie opened. While watching Last Crusade, the bottom left hand of the screen would come up with what was on, what was going to be on, an ad for a new show, AND the icing on the cake, an ad telling me I could buy the Indiana Jones DVD rerelease in stores that Tuesday. La-di-fucking-da, I already own the movies!

TNT does this Rolodex like thing, where it shows you what's on, flips a page, shows you what's coming on, flips a page, and stops on one transparent graphic telling us the suggested show that they just rolodexed us into hearing about. TBS does the Rolodexing too, but also tells us about their website full of games, info, show schedules, etc. USA has adopted plugging its website, games, etc. when I'm trying to fucking watch House reruns.

What's the final phase of this trend going to be? They could sell off the top corners of the screen and start to advertise with those. Or even worse, you're about to watch a classic movie on television. It may be something you've seen, it might be a new experience. You settle down, you turn on the TV and sure enough it starts without fail. All of a sudden, the stars turn to you and start cramming the finest new shows from the network of choice down your throat. THEN, the movie starts again, but there's a split screen view with one half showing the movie and one half showing clips, interviews, and what have you, all to do with that other show. Plus, the soundtrack is split into two channels. Those who want to watch Casablanca, sit on the right side of the screen. Those who want to hear about fucking Bill Engvall, sit to the left. Guess which side is going to have the Cyanide Kool Aid and rabid attack dog?

I know cable networks are trying to be successful, but frankly when you stoop to huge stunts that interrupt the show people are currently watching...that's just enough to cancel my cable subscription and rent your stupid show on DVD. I'm watching your network already, if you want to sell me on another show, then sell it to me properly goddamnit. Stop advertising during the actual show portion of the show. If feel you didn't use your commercial block to its fullest potential, plan your commercial blocks more wisely then. Don't take out your financial inadequacies on me.

Lewis Black agrees with me, and I agree with him on the news crawl bit he did on CNN. What annoys the shit out of you on network/cable TV? The comments board is open, and it is your friend. Until next time, I'm Mr. Controversy...how much does it cost to buy ad space in the top left corner?

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