A Prank Too Far: Gizmodo Turns Off TVs at CES

Do you remember those TV remote control watches from the 90s?  You know, the stealthy wrist-watch that could turn a TV on or off without ever being caught (well, unless you snickered).  A great prank to pull when you were in middle school and there happened to be a TV in the corner of the room or something.

What if you had the updated equivalent device?  Able to turn off any modern TV or IR-controlled display?  Imagine the fun that could be had with one of those.

Ok, lets ramp up the fun here, lets take the new device to the place with the most TVs and displays anywhere in the world; the show floor of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  So many TVs, so little time!

See someone giving a presentation with the display behind them showing slides or media content related to the presentation?  ZAP!

Is someone up on stage giving a multimedia demo?  ZAP!

Is there a booth with a display showing a video demo of a product someone is trying to sell?  ZAP!

Run around the show floor turning off displays at random and giggle with glee as technicians and panicked demonstrators scramble to figure out what went wrong.

Does this sound fun?  How about incredibly immature?  Well, if you’re from popular electronics and gadgets blog, Gizmodo, you probably find it hilarious.

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Last week at CES 2008, representatives from Gizmodo attending the show went around with a device called TV-B-Gone, disabling displays all over.  Some were turned off during presentations and active demonstrations.  This threw a lot of people into a chaotic panic.

In response, the CEA, the organization behind the annual show, have banned Gizmodo from future attendance… for life.  Of course what does Gizmodo say about this?  They say anyone who calls the prank dumb or childish is really just sucking up to corporate interests.  They go so far as to liken their disabling of displays to standing up to Big Brother in a 1984 world.  That they’re somehow upholding the entire concept of journalistic integrity….

… by turning off TVs.

If that wasn’t enough, they then go on with how other media outlets can’t take aim at them and chew them out over this because they haven’t held the industry’s feet to the fire like Gizmodo has in the past.  Somehow asserting that because they’re tougher on companies than others, that they should be given a pass on this stupid and childish prank.

It’s stunts like this that remind me that the whole idea of bloggers being journalists is still largely a joke.  In some cases, bloggers show more restraint and care for ethics and integrity than members of the mainstream media, but when the site itself defends these actions it reminds us that they’re playing by entirely different rules (if there are any rules at all).  They want to play at being important, and want the respect of their peers, but don’t feel the need to do anything to EARN that respect.

Oh, and don’t try calling them on it… cause if you do, you’re obviously a representative of "The Man" trying to "keep them down".