Excellence in Advertising: the Clapper

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      Before God invented Netflix and PVRs, you had to sit through a battery of commercials every time you turned on the idiot box. Most of them made you wonder why the hell Philo Taylor Farnsworth didn’t also invent something to block out commercials. Like Netflix or PVRs.

      But occasionally, a television ad struck gold to where you’d sit through a seven-hour Cannon marathon to see it again. And now, thanks to the magic of YouTube (which we can thank God for inventing) you can relive the magic at the touch of a mouse. Here’s today’s nomination for Excellence in Advertising.

      "Has this ever happened to you?"

      So begins this commercial for the Clapper. And what, you may be wondering, is the hardship depicted? A beleaguered husband has been compelled to turn off a table lamp, and he has to move a whole two feet to do so. Poor sucker! There has to be a better way.

      Fortunately, some genius invented the Clapper, a device that switches appliances on and off with a clap of the hands. Now, of course, if you are bedridden or nursing a broken leg or otherwise incapacitated, the Clapper, which was first sold to the public in 1986, could be a lifesaver. Perversely, though, the ads always seemed to be marketing the device to perfectly able-bodied sluggards who were just too goddamned lazy to put in the minimal amount of effort required to turn on the stereo or shut off the lights.

      The Clapper is great, in theory, but there's a downside (apart from the fact that it encourages sloth). According to Wikipedia, the device "can inadvertently be triggered by other noises, such as coughing, a dog barking, a cabinet or door being closed, laughter, yelling, banging, knocking on a door or a wall, other sharp sounds, or noises from televisions and speakers".

      Also, it turns out that in order for the Clapper to work, you have to actually purchase and install the Clapper.