only Tennessee newspaper authorized to run Art Kumbalek's column
of a control freak
in the potato lane
In America today, one experience
separates the generations. There are those who
grew up with the television remote control and those who didn't.
Not all Americans can remember running around the neighborhood on a sweet
summer night, creeping up to houses with the blue haze seeping through
the windows and secretly flipping the television channels as the startled
and horrified viewers dive for the remote to flip their program back, totally
confused. Ahhh, the sweet memories of growing up with the touch of
Today, there are a significant
number of people in America who vaguely remember life without the remote
control. And of those people, the main reason the older ones don't
remember is because their moms put them down in front of Sesame Street
and they didn't have to move until Mr. Rogers was over and it was nap time.
Many will even remember the "remote" control that came on a string.
We had one of those that came with the first VCR ever (the play button
was big enough that you could kick it with your foot and the place where
the tape went in rose from the top of the machine like a space ship door).
The remote control has become such an important part of many of these people's
lives, many have found nicknames for their beloved entertainment aide and
friend. My household affectionately refers to the remote control
as 'The Clicker,' unless the batteries inside die, when we affectionately
refer to it as 'The Damn Clicker.'
simply by pushing the conveniently fingertip-sized buttons. This is very
important because if you get sick of whatever is on TV you can change it
without having to move or find something better to do. Sometimes
a dilemma does occur when the ads start. To scan or not to scan?
Advertisements have become very witty, entertaining and informative (how
else would you get web site addresses for products shown on TV?), however,
not everyone has the patience for them and will reach, grab and scan.
In your face, Chi Chi's chips and salsa workout man.
The remote control is all
about control. Beyond control over the television. The person
who controls the clicker is in control of the entire television watching
population of the household. And it does not always follow the traditional
power structure of the household. The clicker has allowed for a sort
of survival of the fittest. Whoever can get home first and be organized
enough to sit in front of the television until they are really ready to
leave has the power. Even if you have to get up for a moment, there
are ways of keeping control. Some opt for the clicker in the back
pocket walk away with the five minute rule on the chair they were sitting
on, others are more clandestine about their control. I had a boyfriend
who used to hide the clicker under the couch cushions and leave for extended
periods of time, not telling anyone where it was. Unless someone would
actually stand up and change the channel (like that could happen), we would
sit there until he got back, at which time he would recover the clicker
and we would be forced to watch ESPN. We broke up because ESPN SportsCenter
was programmed at the same time as Seinfeld.
Fortunately for everyone,
clickers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, with varieties of functions.
Of course, today most VCRs, stereos and televisions come with their own
remotes, however, many have the capability to be programmed and coordinated
among entertainment equipment. There are mammoth universal clickers that
do everything, which is important because some people have surround sound
when they watch action films and movies with lots of pretty music which
requires control over the television, VCR and stereo all at the same time.
While you watch, the clicker can also help you do things like change the
tint, picture, color, brightness and detail which is good because some
people like the world to be a little more red. To each their own,
which the clicker facilitates.
The remote control even has
buttons that no one can figure out uses for- except for the most dedicated
technology gurus. And because of the non-discriminating character
of the remote control, anyone who is not a high school English teacher
can master all the techniques and abilities of the remote.
In a mid-day check-up-on-my-life chat, my father- king of technology gurus-
announced that he has a universal clicker that glows in the dark for times
he needs to find the clicker at night. Next on his list has got to
be remote control lights.
The clicker has definitely
been there for me in times of need. It makes an excellent prop to
hold up faulty college-apartment windows, and has often served as a paperweight.
If the clicker wasn't next to my bed, it would be that much more difficult
to turn the tv on and look instead of doing my homework. The sleep
button has also allowed me to relax at the end of the night, fall asleep
to the lullaby sound of David Letterman's voice and not have to worry about
waking up at 3 a.m. with my face buried in the pillow pathetically slapping
the space I thought I left the clicker to turn the TV off. I never
feel sicker to my stomach than when the clicker falls behind the bed or
the table- panic strikes and I feel like I lost my best friend. Some
say that my dedication to my remote control may have something to do with
the fact that I was voted most lazy in my graduating high school class,
but I don't think so. Like my grandma and her kitchenette, I can't
imagine my life without a clicker.
Links for those so inclined:
The Couch Potato's
Easy Resource Page