One of my favorite technological advances of the last few years just got technologically advancier. A year or two ago, certain TV networks started streaming episodes online. As I’m one of those people with no TiVO and an ancient Korean-made VCR that rarely likes to play nice with the cable, this is a godsend, as it allows me to catch up on shows like Heroes whenever I damn well feel like it without the FBI breaking my door down.
This is a seriously awesome way of curbing piracy. Part of the problem with The New Media Landscape has always been the question of ownership – hence the current writer’s strike. Back when VCRs were first available, there was a similar kerfuffle. TV execs got all tweaky about the fact that people could own their stuff for free by recording it, and wasn’t that illegal and shouldn’t somebody pay, until a judge slapped them around for being silly. Me, I’ve always felt that there’s a big difference between bit-torrenting an album that I would have had to pay money for no matter what, and bit-torrenting a TV show that I could have seen for free if I wasn’t out
drinking forging meaningful connections and relationships with my fellow man. Therefore, it’s nice that the networks have allowed me to catch up without having to break the law. With, as they keep telling me, “limited commercial interruptions.”
Now, as you well know, twenty-five years from now there will be jet packs, shopping malls on Mars, and your TV and your computer will merge into one handy-dandy device. I personally can’t wait. And, as it turns out, we may not have to wait too much longer because, as I was watching Heroes this morning on nbc.com, I noticed that the “limited commercial interruptions” were brought to me by Papa John’s Pizza, who invited me, whilst I was watching the show, to click on a link and order myself a pizza. This is very cool.
Why is this cool, you’re asking. Aren’t you one of them anti-commercialism, anti-capitalist, commie liberal pinkos who freaks out about the omnipresence of advertisements and the commoditisation of everyday life? Why, yes, yes I am, even if the spell-checker is telling me that “commoditisation” isn’t a word. No, this is cool because, and precisely because, it’s the closest thing to Wonkavision we’re likely to see in our lifetimes. Remember that part of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where Willy Wonka figures out how to send bars of chocolate via television? It’s sort of like that, only it’s pizza and a guy still has to come to your door with it. Still, the fact that I can interact with an advertisement shown during my favorite show and purchase the product immediately through the very same medium as said show, is very cool and George Jetson-y, I think, and probably worth trying at least once.