Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your cell phone, here comes cell-tainment – a way for advertisers to push beyond the five gazillion hours of TV they already have you for. So when it was announced that Verizon had inked a deal with Disney units, ABC, Touchstone Television and Buena Vista Home Entertainment to bring “The Lost Diaries” to cell phones, it wasn’t too hard to figure out why. But there is a bigger question to ask, why would anyone want to use their phones for that?
Advertisers work like insects, specifically the prolific and hard to destroy cockroach. You can do your best to avoid them, but they have evolved to the point at which they know your habits better than you do. The moment you figure out how to, say, fast forward on commercials or watch television ad-free on the Internet, they find new ways to reach you.
“The Lost Diaries” will be viewed only on the cell phone package deals Verizon is planning to offer and not on ABC, and will be produced by a different entity than the regular ABC television series. You will have to either sign up with Verizon to get the Mobile V-Cast (or else watch them for free when they hit the Internet).
The disturbing thing is that there appear to be so many ways now for a person to be hooked up to a technical device that just plain living our lives will be something out of the ordinary, especially for kids raised in this era of “plug in and tune out.” The only free zone is when we sleep. (Could a device hooked up to us while we sleep be coming to a Frye’s near you?)
You can turn your TV off. You can turn your computer off and leave it at home. But your cell phone is always with you and you never turn it off, so if you become acclimated to V-Casts you will be accessible to any advertisers most of the day every day, whether you’re out on a Saturday night or on vacation. Frightening, no?
Is it really so hard for us to relate to one another that we must constantly be plugged into a gadget? Are our lives really that dull otherwise? We are too easily entertained, perhaps, and the tech world is just trying to keep us up to the minute with the latest and greatest. Or is it something far more depressing: We are being slowly conditioned not to do anything but sit, watch and then buy.
Finally, and most importantly, is “Lost” really worth all the hoopla? It’s just a scary, silly soap opera that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. It is just something to look forward to on Wednesday nights, not anything so vital we can’t live without it. Wouldn’t it be better if the things you could watch on your cell phone actually did you some real good other than provide you with cheap entertainment?
Well, if you want cheap, you can get cheaper than even “Lost.” Yes, porn is the new craze to make a buck on cell phones and iPods. Porn is always the first of the industries to cash in on new technology – as someone once said very astutely, “People will crawl through a sewer tunnel to look at one frame of porn.”
Does that mean we should stop complaining about “The Lost Diaries” and start complaining about porn? We could do that. Or we could just forget about using cell phones for things other than what they’re designed for: Talking to other people. For such an anti-social population we seem to be hell-bent on finding new ways to communicate with people we’d hardly glance up from our cell phones to smile at let alone speak to.
Notable TV This Week
Thursday, November 24
A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, 8 p.m., KCET.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 8 p.m., ABC.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (****), 8 p.m., AMC.
Finding Nemo (****), 8:30 p.m., ABC.
The Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza, 9:15 p.m., KCET.
Friday, November 25
Clear and Present Danger (***), 7:30 p.m., AMC.
The Family Man (**), 8 p.m., NBC.
Hook (*), 8 p.m., FAMILY.
Mommie Dearest (****), sweet family movie just in time for the holidays, 8 p.m., OXYGEN.
Star Wars: Episode II, 8 p.m., FOX.
Saturday, November 26
Runaway Bride (**), with The Julie, 8:30 p.m., NBC.
The Flight That Fought Back, 9 p.m., DISCOVERY.
The Game (**), with Sean Penn, 9 p.m., ABC.
You’ve Got Mail (**), Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, you do the math, 8 p.m., TNT.
Sunday, November 27
Silver Bells, 9 p.m., CBS.
Desperate Housewives, 9 p.m., ABC.
Pollock (**), 9 p.m., IFC.
La Boheme (****), 9 p.m., TCM.
Monday, November 28
High Fidelity (***), 7:30 p.m., OXYGEN.
The Ref (**), 8 p.m., AMC.
High Crimes (**), 8 p.m., FIX.
Tuesday, November 29
Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, 8 p.m., WB.
Close to You: Remembering the Carpenters, 8 p.m., KCET.
Commander in Chief, I guess it’s a hit? 9 p.m., ABC.
Gia (***), 8:30 p.m., OXYGEN.
Wednesday, November 30
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 8 p.m., CBS.
Christmas in Rockefeller Center, 8 p.m., NBC.
A Christmas Story (**), 8 p.m., TNT.
Criminal Minds, 9 p.m., CBS.