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Paralyzed by Choice: The Agony and Ecstasy of TV Shopping 

Wednesday, Feb 11 2015
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The television section of Costco is my own private Blade Runner set. Each flatscreen towers above, but unlike the Ridley Scott film, everyone is always parasailing in the transmissions instead of being future-apocalyptic. In the movie, an Asian woman is projected over the entire side of a building, repeatedly eating a tidbit of something with big red lips; at Costco, that would just be me wearing chapstick and eating a big slice of greasy pizza.

I want a new TV. I am going to go nuts and splurge. They will need a crane to move this motherfucker into my house. But how do you pick out a TV set at a store? Do the Samsungs know how shitty they look next to the LGs? Is it in its contract to never be placed next to the sharper Sonys, like those GRE test questions, "Joe can only sit by Linda, but Linda cannot sit by anyone in a blue sweater..." You can't go wrong with a Zenith! my grandma always said. Do they even make Zeniths anymore? (Nope, Zenith is now LG). If I weren't a lazy bastard I would look at Consumer Reports, but that would involve charts and graphs and stuff.

"Come over and check mine out," said my friend Jonah. "It takes up an entire wall." I know he takes his entertainment very seriously, even going as far as to inhale large bongloads of OG Kush before each viewing. (Hey, it's medical marijuana. He gets wicked menstrual cramps.) The Samsung set was indeed gigantic and the picture was incredible. In fact, it was too good. We watched Game of Thrones and the pixels were so sharp that they didn't even look like characters anymore; they looked like, well, actors. It was like when soap operas switched from film to videotape and it felt like watching home movies — only your home movies hopefully didn't have a plotline involving white slavery in Port Charles. There are people who still pine for Technicolor, myself included, and now there will be holdouts for the good old days when television didn't look like you were watching a play. I don't want to be reminded that I'm watching a replicant.

"I think it's rad," said Jonah. He would. I want to agree with him, I really do. But I prefer cinematic to authentic.

I said as much at Best Buy. The kid just stared at me. You never know what you are going to get when you go into that place. At times I'm convinced they all work on commission, at other times I'm sure they are getting minimum wage and hoping stuff "falls off the truck" easily. This guy was the latter. He was certainly pushing the retail dress code limits by having his pants hang down to his buttcrack just far enough to look cool to his friends, yet not upset corporate. He made a sweeping wave with his hand across all the TVs like a doped up Price Is Right spokesmodel as he tried to explain the difference between plasma and LED to me. Most of what I watch is on my computer, like most everyone under 40, so which of these behemoths would transfer from my laptop the best? Uhhh, he mused, shuffling over to the Sharp. Sharp?! Poor man's Panasonic? Oh hell no. I decided to put both of us out of our misery.

"It really doesn't matter, huh," I said. "I should just get the one that looks the cutest here next to all its mates, right?"


"The set will die in a few years anyway and be replaced by something else, so I should just grab something shiny while I can."

"You could do that," he said. The implication was also that I could, if I really wanted to, not make him have to answer questions anymore.

"I mean, the entire television paradigm is going to become completely engulfed by the internet anyway, right? We will soon be wearing virtual reality suits and participating in our own favorite shows through our computers."

"Probably so, probably so," he nodded, not listening. If I looked closely into one of his eyes, perhaps I would see his chip.

"I'll take it," I said, pointing to the LG. "Rated 'A' from Consumer Reports!" it said. But mostly it was just the shiniest, with the most lifelike football players and Snickers bar eaters.

"Great!" said the lad, revivified. Glad I could help.

About The Author

Katy St. Clair


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