I don't subscribe to cable. When I moved back to San Francisco last summer, I decided to forgo it, despite my apartment coming equipped with a nice flat-screen tv. I do, however, watch the Daily Show pretty regularly, so a few months ago I decided to upgrade my setup (i.e., watching on a 13" laptop screen) so I could start watching like "real television". A quick Amazon purchase of a 10 foot mini-displayport to HDMI cable with pass-through audio later, and I had achieved an incredible feat of modern technology - I emulated a tv setup from 1995, except this one necessitated a $1200 laptop and an ugly cable draped across the living room. Hooray for modern technology.
Moving on. When you watch a show online with ads, you annoyingly start to see the same ads, over, and over, and over again. On the Daily Show, I have an incessant loop of Jack in the Box ("If you love bacon, make it official"), the annoying Hyundai honking car driving around the neighborhood commercial, Five Hour Energy 30-second infomercials, and of course, the AT&T 4G commercial. Here it is, for your enjoyment:
This might sound dramatic, but to me this commercial does an amazing job of summarizing everything that's wrong with technology these days. If I wanted to make a thirty second video entitled "Dystopian Nightmare with Annoying Neighbors", it would probably look like this. Let's analyze it for fun.
0:00-0:03: Presumed husband and wife standing on the lawn of their white picket fence single family home. Nice day outside. But both are furiously typing on their phones, ignoring each other, nature, and the nice weather. Woman says, "This AT&T 4G network is fast". Just as fast as your relationship is disintegrating?
0:04-0:10: Friendly neighbor comes by walking the dog, asks for updates on the game. Husband apparently was not typing, but was watching the game on his phone. "I think it's final seconds. Ooh, down by 2, shoots a 3. Game over." Wife snidely remarks, "So two seconds ago" without even looking up. Definitely slap-worthy.
0:10-0:12: Chance for redemption. Two nice girls walk over looking for the Harrises' son Kevin. It is a beautiful day outside, after all. "Hey Mr. and Mrs. Harris, where's Kevin?"
0:13: Annoying mom, rather than responding with normalcy, proceeds to turn the phone to the girls (apparently she was also fake typing before, cause now she's videochatting with Kevin, who's probably 20 feet away inside), showing them the disembodied talking head of Kevin.
0:13-0:16: Poor Kevin sees what his mom has done. "Hi. ... Mom, put me down. Put the phone down." That's right, in AT&T's vision of the connected world, it's the kids telling their parents to get off the technology. Nice girl number one grabs nice girl number two and pulls her away, presumably to find a real, live human being to interact with rather than a talking device.
0:17: Oh my god. The Harrises' neighbor is even more annoying than the Harrises. She smugly pops up over the hedge to announce, "Hey guys, did you hear?"
0:18-0:20: Mrs. Harris totally cuts off her neighbor and finishes her sentence, cause she's a 4G know-it-all: "The Troys had their baby?" Mr. Harris, now the one to be the dick: "So 29 seconds ago." Random aside: the first 40 times I saw this commercial, I could have sworn she was saying "The Chois", but watching again now, it sounds like "The Troys" to me. Non-Asian name worked better with the focus groups?
0:21: Annoying and now upstaged neighbor: "Well, we should get them a gift."
0:22: The Troys/Chois, back from the hospital with their newborn. "Thanks for the gift!"
0:23: The Harrises: "You're welcome!" Annoying neighbor: "You're welcome!" Wow, taking credit for a gift that you didn't even give? Do you steal their paper and crap on their lawn, too?
0:25-0:30: Voiceover: "Get it fast with AT&T, the nation's largest 4G network. AT&T."
It's nice that 4G provides faster web access than 3G, but why did AT&T decide that "smug people being annoying to their supposed friends and neighbors" was the best way to market this? Ah well, I guess we all have to have the latest and greatest gadgets, regardless of how they affect our lives. Civilized society can take a backseat to 4G download speeds.
Welcome to the future.