Sunday, June 20, 2010

Home Theater Magazine is manufacturing consent

Bouy... I am going to have to start a new blog called "Manufacturing Consent". After witnessing all the techniques of propaganda the NFL Network used to try to sell me on Devaney's plan to draft Sam Bradford, I have been sensitized this subject. For most people, it was Fox news trying to sell the public on Iraq II.

Often times, when confronted with a tough-sell situation, the powers that be (both economic and political) may seek the aid of major media outlets to help promoting the difficult agenda. The goal is to whip people up into a frenzy of excitement where there would naturally be none. Indeed, there might even be considerable concern, doubt and opposition to the program if the public is left unalloyed by shills.

So it is with the 3d "revolution" in home theater. Uptake is slow. Sales are slow. This is not just a function of a W shaped recession either. When purchasing new HDTVs, the buying public seems to show no preference for units that allegedly have 3d functionality. Whatever the reason may be, the public seems unwilling to spend money for the feature.

The marketing forces simply conclude that they are not doing a good enough job in pushing the technology. Enter Home Theater magazine. Witness the cover of the July 2010 issue (Volume 17 No. 7.) The cover headline says in massive letters:


Not so subtile? Yep, uh-hun. I guess they want me to buy 3d now, eh? Yes... that's it. Not to leave any stone unturned, hyper-shill... errrr... Editor Shane Beuttner delivers the big message of the magazine right up front.

Back to the Future
The 3D Era is now.

He scribes a nice shill argument effectively saying "This is not a gimmick to sell B movies anymore" and "3d his here to stay." He couches this language a bit more carefully, but I am giving it to you straight, with no chaser.

He immediately shifts to the salesman soft-pedal. To help us all get ready for the 3d era, his testers and writers have worked hard to present a series of reviews, particularly one on the Samsung 8000. This is of course, the major-model from the heaviest advertiser... er... most successful 3d HDTV maker.

Turn a couple of pages to letters to the editor and you will see the following bit of text. Steve Smith in St. Paul Minnesota basically says that he is never going to jump 3d wagon because of 3d. "I would rather see a 3d movie in the theater, but even then I am not crazy about the format." Steve is pissed that Home Theater magazine is pressing this agenda so hard when it has no benefits. Why make us unhappy with the equipment we just bought when the new stuff just doesn't add value?

I am highly sympathetic to Steve's case. However, I do look forward to my next upgrade, he doesn't. I am concerned that my next HDTV--a 4K HDTV--is being delayed because of meaningless technological masturbation with 3d.

Evidently, Shane sets aside his shill tactics and says the following in response to Steve Smith. "I'm of something of a mixed mind on this. On the one hand, I wonder too if the industry is running before it's learned to walk with 3D, and whether it's losing TV sales right now as poeple wait for more 3d HDTVs to become available from more manufacturers..."

No, no, no Steve! Say that properly. They are loosing sales right now because people are waiting to see if the industry can introduce an 3D HDTV that will actually work... errr... impress.

Note the U-Turn in Shane's rhetoric. On the shilling page, he's all in favor of it. On the heart-to-heart with a reader, he too seems concerned by the fact that the film makers don't do much with the technology. Although he would never say it, the current crop of HDTVs don't present 3d material very well either.

Nevertheless, nearly the entire July issue contains one sales-push after another. The entire issue is a substantial effort to whup you up into a state of excitement about 3d.

Home Theater is representing powerful economic interests that want to sell this technology. Home Theater magazine is trying to manufacture consent where there would naturally be none.