Wired News ran a two page profile of the inventor and his creation. Just two weeks before the US Presidential election, NPR found time run an interview with the inventor. Gizmodo rants angrilly about it. Clearly, a device that shuts of televisions gets attention.
TV-B-Gone is a one button remote control who’s only purpose is to turn off televisions, whereever they may be. From Wired News:
The idea for TV-B-Gone was born at a restaurant in the early 1990s, when Altman and his friends kept paying attention to a TV in the corner, not to one another. They chatted about how to turn off all televisions, and he wondered if it would be possible to string together a series of “power” commands.
Counterpoint, from Gizmodo:
Mitch Altman is an asshole. And not just any asshole, but one of those snotty holier-than-thou types…. See, Altman hates the television and its encroachment into public space. Rather than just doing what most everybody else has done — which is either not really caring or, failing that, getting the fuck over it — Altman has invented a device called the ‘TV-B-Gone.’
Here’s the thing. Who is served by the television? If TVs are part of public spaces, why can’t we judge them as such? I like sidewalks because they help keep motor traffic from running me over. Wheel chair ramps are helpful to anybody who would like to avoid stairs, especially delivery folks with hand-trucks. Litter, on the other hand, is undesirable in public, and the consensus is that it should be place in trash cans, rather than on the street.
When it comes to TVs, I ask again: who do they serve?
You’ve heard about the battle for eyeballs. Television people are getting better and better at finding ways of roping us into TV where we can’t get away.” …Advertisers want waiting rooms, elevators and urinals — and they don’t want anyone to be able to turn the screens off.
There’s a trade-off we all make: we recognize that advertising supports things we like, so we tolerate it as a necessary pain (because paying for things we want with cash is unthinkable, public broadcasting knows this all too well).
Here’s where some will say I’ve gotten a bit lulu: these TVs don’t improve the lives of most Americans. The venues that host them get paid, but the viewers don’t. The advertisers likely earn increased sales, and so too benefit, but it’s hard to argue the viewers did.
Altman said people who hear about TV-B-Gone start thinking about other nuisances. Friends have asked for ways to jam cell phones, shut down vehicle subwoofers and kill car alarms.
Standing on the corner of 18th and Castro, watching people staring past their beers in bars, spacing out behind the wheel at red lights and ignoring one another on the bus, it was clear that it would take more than a gadget to snap people entirely back to reality.
“What I really want,” Altman said, “Is Life-B-Here.”
Nonetheless, snide criticism is never far behind.
Read the Wired News profile, where Altman wanders through a city, turning off other peoples’ televisions, peppering his behavior with such gems as, “We just saved him several minutes of his life.” Maybe after making his tens of dozens of dollars on the TV-B-Gone, Altman can invent a gadget that transports self-important cocks who think they’re waging a subversive culture war to a log cabin coffee shop where they can reassure each other how awesome they are for hating television. Free berets for the first 100 pricks to use the word “Sheeple!”
Sadly, it’s also funny.