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Nielsen Gun

The Second Amendment was never this much fun.
(+1, -1)
  [vote for,

The Neilsen television rating system isn't really much of a "rating" system at all. It simply monitors how many people are watching a particular program, and in some cases also collects demographic information about who's watching which show. Just because you're watching something, though, doesn't mean it's good. And what about commercials?

Enter the Neilsen Gun. Elvis used to shoot his television when he didn't like what he saw. At one time or another, you've wanted to emulate The King, and now you can!

Is your least-favorite show coming on? Point the infrared Neilsen Gun at the screen and fire off a few shots during the opening credits before you change the channel. Is one of your favorite shows being ruined by an annoying character or inconsistent script quality? When you see something you don't like during the course of the show, blast away. Did you just sit through a poor episode of a generally good series? Open fire during the closing credits. The signals will be received by a small box on top of your TV, or by Neilsen hardware built in to the television.

It works for commercials, too. Imagine the joy of virtually blowing Carrot Top away the next time one of those 1-800 long-distance ads appears, knowing that your voice of disapproval is being received loud and clear, and might actually contribute to the elimination of a terrible ad campaign. (Note to people living outside the United States: Carrot Top is a loud, obnoxious, frighteningly unattractive "comedian" who's been doing excruciatingly bad telephone ads for what seems like forever).

What happens if you see something you DO like? Just point the gun at the ceiling and fire a few shots in the air, cowboy style! Yee-haw! The Neilsen Gun has a second infrared emitter on the bottom of the handgrip. Signals received from the handgrip emitter count as positive votes!

Each gun has it's own identifying code to prevent abuse and gauge individual responses. Shooting the screen 500 times during "The Price Is Right" will register as one viewer having very strong feelings about the show, not 500 general votes for or against it.

For those of you who aren't gun-crazy Americans, or don't want to teach your children that a handgun is the best way to express an opinion, these same voting features can be integrated into a traditional remote control.


This system would almost certainly be open to abuse during the first weeks or months after widespread release, so I would suggest the Neilsen people don't take the initial ratings too seriously until the novelty wears off, and all the technical/security bugs have been worked out.

My idea of zapping the crap during a show may also be of limited value - there's no way to tell exactly what it is that people didn't like at that particular moment, only that a lot of people blasted the screen eight minutes into the show. Even if this feature was eliminated, however, the Neilsen Gun would still gather useful and currently unavailable information - people's opinions on the quality of a particular episode, and how they feel about specific commercials.

redshift9, Dec 15 2002

Carrot Top http://www.carrottop.com/
Incredibly annoying backgrounds [thumbwax, Oct 06 2004]

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       The point of ratings isn't to determine what's good; it's to measure the number of people watching in order to come up with prices for ad time. It doesn't matter if people loathe what they're watching, just that they're watching it.   

       There are existing ways of doing this other sort of measurement in a controlled setting. Any of them could be handed out to home viewers if anyone thought it was worth their while. None of them would be as satisfying for the audience as the gun, though, so I'm not going to leave a fishbone or anything like that.
Monkfish, Dec 15 2002

       I like the idea except for the traditional remote control option at the end. People who don't like the gun thing should just gnaw their granola in quiet fury when they see something they dont like.
bungston, Dec 15 2002

       They *way* overplucked Carrot Top's eyebrows, didn't they?
thumbwax, Dec 15 2002

       // I can't stand him either, but notoriety is better than neglect, and your reference here proves that this is ad money well spent by AT&T. In short, the commercials work. //   

       I'm not so sure. A while back, I was lost and had to stop to use a payphone to ask for directions. I was actually halfway through dialing 1-800-CALL-ATT, but hung up and used 1-800-COLLECT instead. Why? Carrot Top. I think most advertisers would rather be popular than notorious.   

       //If you don't like what's on, change the channel.//   

       Ordinarily, I'm right with you, but the whole point of the Neilsen Gun is to provide useful feedback. Let's say you're a regular watcher of The Simpsons. I love that show, but let's face it, they've been pretty hit-and-miss in recent years. You won't know that an episode was bad until you've seen it.   

       If a series continues to suck, eventually it will lose viewers, and thus ad revenue. Once it loses too much, the show will be cancelled. It's much easier and cheaper to improve an established, popular show than it is to create a new one from scratch and hope it catches on. Giving the producers immediate feedback on the quality of a particular episode would (hopefully) lead to better episodes in the future, and be more cost effective for the networks in the long run.   

       thumbwax - I try not to look directly at his face, but that's an interesting observation...
redshift9, Dec 15 2002

       //Simpsons is a bad example for me. I've hated the show since its inception.//   

       Gah!! Ordinarily, such blasphemy would not be tolerated. However, the quality of your ideas has demonstrated that your mind is otherwise sound.   

       Please book me two tickets on the Eclipse Zepplin. I think my Arecibo Message knit sweater will keep me nice and warm high altitudes.
redshift9, Dec 15 2002

       I like this one. It's definitely another one for the christmas list. To be honest, I don't watch much tv. But I'd love one of these babies for Survivor so I could shoot at the people who annoy me. The inclusion of voting for ads too is also clever.
madradish, Dec 15 2002

       TiVo has a feature wherein while viewing a show (or viewing it in the TV Guide-sytle listing) a viewer can give a show a ranting from three thumbs down to three thumbs up. These user ratings are not only used to allow the TiVo to 'guess' what shows the user might also like, but are correlated by zipcode and sold to networks. I know I use the thumbs-up/thumbs-down buttons on my TiVo remote to punish bad TV whenever I see it.
ry4an, Dec 15 2002

       I think the double emitter so you can shoot at the ceiling is really clever. Well done. +
krelnik, Dec 16 2002


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