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Crowley, Michael
February 2003
New Republic;2/10/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 5, p42
Offers observations on the reality television series 'The Osbournes' and TiVo digital video recorders. The final straw came during Super Bowl weekend, when America's most profane family appeared in an advertisement for Pepsi Twist. Ozzy Osbourne, the heavy-metal rocker whom MTV cameras have revealed to be just another beleaguered suburban dad, was his typical stammering self, bickering with the kids in the Osbourne kitchen. But Ozzy's incoherence ("but-but-but-but") seemed calculated and irritatingly phony. This artifice was fitting--it has become the crippling flaw in the second season of "The Osbournes." Ozzy Osbourne and his family now seem less like nutty, Beverly Hillbillies-ish naifs than a group of spoiled celebrities playing the role of rich and famous TV stars. TiVo may be the greatest advance in day-to-day convenience since e-mail. It is essentially a digital VCR. For the first time, TiVo allows you to take control of the TV schedule rather than the other way around. A TiVo device can "think," building a profile of you based on your viewing habits and then recommending shows. Because nearly all your shows are recorded and can be fast-forwarded at lightning digital speed, TiVo makes sitting through commercials seem like a tragic anachronism. Which is why, I suspect, the more people skip advertisements, the more advertisements and shows will have to blend together. What this means is a steady growth in the practice of product placement.


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