Imagine you are watching your favorite television show on reruns. You loved it when it was originally aired and now, while channel surfing you catch one of your favorite episodes. Somewhere, in the background of one of the scenes, a magazine display shows an advertisement for a movie. The episode is about four years old but the ad for the movie is one that opens this week. If you’re watching digital cable or have a DVR service enabled, you have the ability to rewind the scene and there to the horror of your suspension of disbelief is the cold dark truth; Hollywood will stop at nothing to make money.
This article from the Consumerist compares the same image from the original airing of an episode of How I Met Your Mother from 2007 to a recent rerun with an ad for Zookeeper digitally inserted.
Now, it might seem trivial to be upset over this but consider that How I Met Your Mother is a show, whose premise is built upon the fact that it’s the past, even though it’s the present. OK, before you get out your tops and start spinning them or checking for time skipping nose bleeds, let me explain. The show is told from the point of view of Ted, who is explaining to his kids how he met their mother. The time frame is affixed to the years it takes place during. By inserting this ad, that advances the time frame by four years, you disrupt the dramatic flow. I know. I’m a dork and I need help. Truth is, I don’t watch the show, but this latest attempt at Hollywood product placement within shows is another reason why I think the system is inherently broken beyond repair.
Imagine if this were a rerun of LOST and a poster for an ad for The Hangover 3 appeared on the cover of a magazine on Oceanic Flight 815? It’s jarring. It’s disruptive. And ultimately, it insults the intelligence of the viewer by insisting that we are brainless beings that can be duped by 'Pretty Mediocre photographic fakery', to quote Doc Emmet Brown.
Soon, DVDs will be edited to contain ads for products not available at the time of the movie’s filming. That classic film that you’ve always loved since you were a child could be next. You’ve waited years for it to come out on Blu-Ray only to have it sullied by the Mad Men of Madison Avenue and MGM.
Hollywood. STOP IT! You’ll give Spielberg and Lucas new ideas for re-releasing their movies.