Attack of the Bouncing Ads

I read this article week or two ago and I felt compelled to respond to the writer. He thinks it's bad being forced to watch ads before a movie starts? How about those constant bouncing ads on television?

We've all seen them and you know you love them. Problem is, I don't think people want to do much about it. It's a little like a scene from "The Simpsons," where Homer can't reach for the remote not even a foot away, and so shrugs and opts to watch whatever's on television.

The presence of these ads on television during a program have transcended being ubiquitous: they're downright annoying. You're watching a program and suddenly, this ad for NASCAR explodes on the lower right-hand side of the screen. If you're really lucky, you might get a zooming graphic coming in from the left side of the screen and colliding with a title from the right: kaboom! It's graphical magic for the entire family!

Why is it necessary for networks to run ads during a program? Isn't someone aware that perhaps an ad for "The Joe Schmo Show" at a dramatic moment in an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" is distracting and even ridiculous? And on TNT, the network "that knows drama" knows little to nothing about timing. Maybe perhaps the fact that these shows are in syndication gives networks the right to pollute the bottom quarter of the screen with nonsense. You've already seen it, the thinking must go, so why not see an ad that's new to you? And while it's no small secret (or at least, shouldn't be) that syndicated shows are altered from their original versions, that shouldn't be carte blanche to inundate a viewer with stupidity. Now, syndicated shows make for great background noise when you're doing something else, but not everyone can possibly be doing three things at once that they don't want to get involved in a program repeat.

Here's the part where I get to invoke Society. In my best droll voice, perhaps the reason that these obtrusive ads exist is because Society has gotten pretty lazy and is easily distracted with its zero attention span. Networks are actually doing us a favor because they're merely responding to focus groups that indicate they want to know what they're watching now by having the program's title flashed across the screen. And yes, tell me what's on after this and what's on next week. Society, as the argument goes, is fast-paced and television programming only reflects that.

Rubbish. I'm expected to believe that there is a group of people out there in Middle Americana who actually want to have ads floating on the bottom of their television screens. That people want dramatic tension in an episode broke by an obnoxious ad for "Gary the Rat." It's a repeat, after all, right? It's bad enough that CNN introduced the concept of the station logo over twenty years ago, but its mutation into a steady stream of ads during a program is like the monster created by Dr. Frankenstein coming back to get its master.

But it's unlikely people will do anything about it, because networks know that the viewing public is pretty lazy. So they'll interpret the deafening silence as proof-positive that Society wants this. So when you're watching a re-run of "Schindler's List" and during Liam Neeson's final "I could have done more" speech, expect to see an ad suddenly pop-up. Only I won't count on you actually doing something because like Homer Simpson, it's too much effort.