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November 20, 2013

What kids want

“When (children) discover they cannot rewind or fast-forward a TV show, they are perplexed. It is hard to explain the limitations of live television to children who have grown up in an on-demand world. ... Many children perceive all of television to be more Netflix than Nickelodeon: on demand and on their schedule. ... They watch the same episode over and over again and learn every detail of it. —“TV woos kids who can’t wait,” The New York Times

Meanwhile, in a product-development meeting in a bunker deep beneath Disney headquarters in Burbank, Calif., 6-year-old Madison Kwan addresses a group of television executives:

OK, people, I don’t have all day. I’ve got a thing over at Sony in an hour, so let’s make this quick. Clearly you people don’t understand the pressure on our generation, or you wouldn’t try to make kids my age watch ads on our iPads. Surely you realize we don’t have time to sit still for that nonsense. No? I can see by your dazed looks you don’t know what you’re doing, so let me lay it out for you.

You’re familiar with YouTube, yes? Everything’s free, right there for the taking. Vivid colors, jaunty music, imminently customizable, always there when you need it. A banner ad pops up, you tap the X, the ad goes away. A video ad tries to run, you give it a few seconds, tap “Skip Ad” and BOOM — no ad. What part of this aren’t you people getting? OK, the YouTube comments are looney, but you just gotta avert your eyes, that’s all. No big whoop.

Now, sometimes they’ll try to make you watch a full ad. I guess you geniuses need it spelled out for you, but here’s what you do. You mute your iPad and let the ad run while you go get a Gogurt. You unmute, and The Aquabats are ready to roll. See? Easy peasy.

Now, here’s another thing that steams my cocoa. I go to my granma’s and she’s got no Internet, no wi-fi, no 4G, no nothing. So I’m flipping around her television, which is like some kind of time machine, and I stumble upon this goofy rerun. Pretty soon this guy Barney Fife is cracking me up, so I keep watching, but guess what? There’s no status bar to show how much of the show I’ve watched. There’s no way to rewind, no way to fast-forward, no way to skip the ads. And this show was made, like, 500 years ago! Before color was even invented. I honestly don’t know how people survived back in those days.

But that’s not even the worst part. So, get this: I make it to the end and I want to watch it again, and guess what I can’t do? WATCH IT AGAIN. Pathetic. You don’t understand, man. A kid my age can’t watch a show just once. I’ve got to watch it at least 30 times just to get into the heads of all the characters. Heck, back when I was a little kid, I once watched this “Yo Gabba Gabba” episode with Mos Def 361 times in a row. The Super-Mr.-Superhero joint where they save Starsky the Baby Star Monster? That stuff is crack. Yeah, I had drool rolling down my chin, but I learned a thing or two about teamwork — something you people might want to look into.

And speaking of not having a Blue’s Clue, how is Time Warner still a thing? I’m instantly searching 20 bazillion vids on my Netflix app or watching streaming movies on my Wii U, and those Time Warner bozos want me to use a remote to sift through 1,000 channels on cable and figure out which one is HD? Puh-lease, Time Warner. Get in the game, yo.

If they don’t change their ways, you know where you’re going to find Time Warner in 2015? Down the street by the blue mailbox next to the Kodak film hut across from the Blockbuster — you know, the one with the phone booth out front? Yeah: GONE, that’s where. Don’t make me Instagram it for ya.

OK, look, it’s been great, but I gotta run. I’ve got just enough time to squeeze in some mac ’n’ cheese and a decaf macchiato before my thing with Sony. If you have any more questions, check out my vlog or hit me up on Twitter. Good luck. You’re gonna need it.