Best two inventions in the world

If they ever sponsor a vote for the “best invention of the century” I know which inventions win in my book. First place goes to the DVR, and second place goes to the Mute button on my TV’s remote.

Each invention should take its rightful place in history as the most helpful, most practical, most useful inventions ever, for one reason – they allow me to ignore commercials. The DVR allows me to tape the shows I want to watch, when I want to watch them. Then when the commercial interruptions occur, I press the fast-forward button and in seconds (and not agonizing minutes watching the same ten commercials I saw a dozen times in the last program) I’m watching my show again.

It’s commercial free TV. Long overdue, I might add.

And God bless the Mute button. On the unrecorded shows I watch I can shut out the commercials that shout at me and the mindless product pitches for a few minutes of peace and quiet before my show starts again. Any invention that helps me avoid or control the noise blaring from my TV during commercials ought to be immortalized. We should build monuments to them.

TV commercials insult our collective intelligence and attempt to persuade us that we are miserable failures in life if we are over 30, weigh more than 108 pounds (for women) or 155 pounds (for men) don’t have shiny thick hair, or skinny legs, or perfectly toned, evenly tanned bodies. TV commercials paint us as out of touch with society if we don’t drive BMW’s through empty, rain-slicked, city streets at 100 miles an hour in the dark. We’re second class citizens if we have skin blemishes, digestive problems, tax problems, financial problems, the right car insurance, the right paper toilet paper, the right cell phone and the right deodorant. Each ad tells us we won’t ever solve our particular problems unless we use only their products and services.

My trusty DVR and my marvelous Mute button help me avoid all their slick persuasions and subtle suggestions that I’m less of a person and I’m going to be a miserable failure without their participation in my life.

Still, advertising makes our TV viewing possible. I realize that without advertising we wouldn’t have anything to watch but one Public TV channel. And the advertising industry creates, supports and sustains hundreds of thousands of jobs. Good for them.

I admit I look forward to watching Super Bowl commercials. Those commercials have become somewhat of a Madison Avenue Super Bowl themselves lately. Many people watch the Super Bowl solely for the commercials and the half time show and probably couldn’t tell you what teams play. I am always curious as well to see what companies sell the farm to buy 30 seconds of air time to showcase their prime creative, and shamefully expensive, commercials. They call them spots. And rightly so. They appear – blip – and they’re gone. But they always reappear with nauseating frequency.

I wonder if those Madison Avenue cats realize how many of us out here tune their spots out (fast forward through them with our DVRs, or mute the sound with our Mute buttons) every time they appear.

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