TV-B-Gone

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.

4 thoughts on “TV-B-Gone

  1. Tv-b-gone
    Is it really an useful idea? After turning off few TV’s which sometimes takes up to 65 seconds, how would you use this product again? Similar mini TV remotes (tv-b-off.com) had been on the market since a longer time, not only you can turn it off but you can use it to control you TV or cable box. It has like a regular remote the turn on and off function, channel changing and volume control. Even when you get bored of having the power to turn off someone’s tv. You will have an regular mini remote control which you can always use while you on travel or in hotels.

    Evaluate before you buy.

  2. Great I got one.
    This product is much more useful. Why turning a public tv off, if
    you can control it. I have a tv-b-gone to but use this one more often.

    Last weekend I enjoyed my time in a local bar, where I had the full
    control over their tv.

    Instead of watching boring sport I switched to a chick flick.
    Immediately I had some college girls around me who checked out the
    program on tv.

    Guess what.

    Ali
    tv-b-off.com is cool

  3. I wish to god that there was a device that could cancel shitty sounding “bass cars” and turn off annoying honking car alarms. I have these white trash neighbors who have both bass cars and alarms that go off at all times of the night. I seriously can’t sleep anymore because I keep waiting for the fucking BEEP BEEP BEEP from a car alarm in the middle of the night. ARGGGHHH!!! Please invent a “car alarm-b-gone” and a “bass-b-gone” and I will give you all the money I have.

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