The clicker is king nothing else is even remotely important

February 25, 1994|By MIKE LITTWIN

Since I need both hands to type this column into a computer, I am not presently holding a remote control.

But there is one nearby. There is always one nearby.

As the philosopher said -- I saw him either on "Nightline" or "Hard Copy" -- I click, therefore I am.

I love my clicker. Actually, I love all my clickers. I have remotes for my TV, VCR, CD player and, of course, blender.

According to people who are too smart to watch TV, but who aren't opposed to appearing on it, this obsession with the remote control is a male/aggressive thing. The remote compares with that other symbol, also under some attack, of male power.

I understand this.

Men don't mean to use the remote to punish others, but it sometimes works out that way. We scan. We graze. We surf. We can't stay with any one show more than a minute, sometimes any more than a few seconds. Apparently, this drives some people nuts.

I have a friend who can do the entire cable lineup in under 12 seconds and then recite what is on each channel. This man is a god, although maybe a god in need of a shot of Ritalin.

It's as if we are the nomads of old. The clicker is our camel. We travel from channel to channel to channel. We're not searching for water. Why do you need water when the beer is in the fridge? (By the way, if we can put a man on the moon, why can't we invent a remote that will bring the beer directly to the couch?)

My friend Tony says the reason men scan is that we are searching the airwaves for . . . naked women.

What we do is scan until we hit the Sports Illustrated swimsuit video salute to tanning lotion. Then, incredibly, although not immediately, we move on. The search never ends.

But now there is a remedy of a kind. It's called Stop It! I read in the Wall Street Journal recently that an engineer out of Spokane, Wash. -- a man yet -- has invented the anti-remote. It flashes a beam that disarms the remote control in mid-click.

One flash from Stop It! and you're stuck watching whatever channel you land on, even -- and there's some danger here -- if it's got on one of those cuddly, Dan Rather-Connie Chung commercials that make you want to commit anchor-cide.

This is the remote control as roulette wheel. It's also the remote control as anti-lock brakes.

Meaning, it could be a huge seller. It's called Stop It! because that's what the inventor's wife always yelled at him when he got in the grazing mode.

Now the inventor claims to be an ex-grazer. I think, in the literature, you say "reformed" grazer. Medically speaking, once a grazer, always a grazer.

In any case, Stop It! -- coming soon to an electronics store near you -- may be the new high-tech weapon in the gender war.

Where will it end? Inevitably, someone will invent a remote to counter Stop It! Then there will be the remote to counter the remote to counter the remote, etc. Eventually, we're spending billions of dollars that could be going toward more important inventions that would help society, like high-definition TV.

Face it, the one who controls the remote also controls the TV, which in America in the '90s is the same as controlling the flow of information. I'm riding my clicker right down that big ol' information highway.

This is a problem in my house. My wife doesn't want to handle the remote control. She just wants constancy. If she turns on, say, the Winter Olympics tonight to watch the figure skating (and, apparently, if you can trust the ratings, there must be a law that you have to watch the figure skating), she's happy simply to stick with that one thing.

Whereas I, of course, have to flip back to "Viper." Like many of you, I've got this thing for crime-stopping cars. Meanwhile, you've got to tune in for a few seconds of "Rescue From Gilligan's Island." And I'm guessing that, somewhere on the dial, there might just be a basketball game.

Sure, I'll hit the Olympics occasionally. There could be mogul skiing, the best winter event I've seen since the Claudine Longet Invitational aired on "Saturday Night Live."

And I wouldn't want to miss Tonya Harding jumping out of the stands onto the ice, with Connie Chung right behind her. Remember, Tonya's only nine broken knees away from the gold.

I just hope she never whacks my clicker.

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