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Old movie served as ad for new one


I’m more like Ralphie in “The Christmas Story,” the tale of the child wanting a Red Rider BB gun.

That means you’re probably sharper than I am, quicker on the uptake.

So when you were flipping channels the other night and saw “The Matrix” was on, you knew better than to think it was just another showing of the movie.

You didn’t let yourself get tricked like a kid would.

You didn’t let yourself sink into the plot, watch the drama unfold and allow yourself the illusion, as I did, that the airing of the movie was just a chance to take it in again.

You knew better than to watch Morpheus and Trinity and Tank and Neo as they did battle with the multiple Mr. Smiths, the agents who came after him.

You knew better than to feel your interest heighten as Neo entered the kitchen where the Oracle was baking cookies and to focus as each moment unfolded as I did.

As the result, when the commercial came, as you knew it inevitably would, you weren’t disappointed. You weren’t let down.

You didn’t turn off the TV, flip the remote across the room on to the couch, causing your spouse to eye you strangely, and march over to your keyboard to bang out a column.

Because you remembered, as I had forgotten, that the purpose of showing of the movie wasn’t to show a movie.

It was to draw an audience for a commercial about the new Keanu Reeves martial-arts move in theaters this holiday season.

You knew the whole reason The Matrix was being shown was because of that commercial. You knew that the movie was, in fact, a feature-length infomercial for the new movie.

Maybe it’s gone on long enough that it doesn’t bother you. If so, more power to you. You can just enjoy the shows when they come around and think – hey, whatever reason they want to put a movie you like on the air is fine by you.

After all, you don’t have to go to the new movie.

Plus, you can see their point. If you liked the three Matrix movies, it’s pretty likely you might also enjoy the new release.

And that might not even have struck me were it not for having to turn the volume down during the commercials because they blared out louder than the audio during the show itself.

It seemed to me someone addressed that a few years ago when everybody got tired of having to turn their sets down. If I recall correctly that was about the same time everybody got fed up with robo-calls and called Congress often enough that Congressmen started listening to constituents instead of the robo-call industry.

Added to the louder commercials and the showing of movies right before new releases is another phenomenon: the nature of cable TV itself.

Listings on the cable channels now say for a $5 fee, we can watch movies like “Dances with Wolves” and others that were aired without charge a decade ago.

And that itself wouldn’t be so bad, if we didn’t stop to think about what proportion of our total cable packages are made up of pay-per-view channels and channels advertising pay per view channels.

So it’s in the face of all this that the commercial for the new movie came on the other night and I turned off “The Matrix” and threw my remote on to the couch.

The whole thing makes me feel manipulated.

Check that. The whole thing makes me feel as though someone is trying to manipulate me.

I guess it wouldn’t bother me if it were done openly. It wouldn’t bother me, for instance, if they labeled most of the things we saw on cable television “paid programming,” so we’d be aware how much of what we’re being shown is akin to an Infomercial.

I don’t know.

Maybe folks write it off as marketing.

Maybe people really believe the only legitimate reason for doing anything any more is for financial gain – and that, as a result, we should simply accept life on those terms.

Well, I don’t want to.

I feel like Ralphie in “The Christmas Story,” when he decoded the secret message from Little Orphan Annie’s radio show only to discover it said “Be Sure To Drink Your Ovaltine.”

As Ralphie said, it was all a lousy commercial.

It’s enough to make a guy say “fudge.”


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