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July 11, 2010 10:09 PM   Subscribe

How to access Hulu from outside the U.S. without a proxy server.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (70 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not for long, I'll wager.
posted by deadbilly at 10:14 PM on July 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Now if only there were a way to access the BBC iPlayer from outside the UK without a proxy server...

I'd even pay a license fee if you gave me a chance, guys, c'mon. And no, BBC America doesn't count.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:15 PM on July 11, 2010 [17 favorites]


When I hear the word Hulu I think of Little Lulu. Then I think of the blatantly racist theme song that used to open the Little Lulu animated cartoons...

"though you're wild as any Zulu
and you're just as hard to tame
Little Lulu
I love you you
just the same!"

Nice, eh?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:20 PM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ridiculously complicated.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:20 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The first rule of international hulu access club is you don't talk about hulu access club!
posted by birdherder at 10:22 PM on July 11, 2010 [12 favorites]


Ridiculously complicated.

I did it in about 2 minutes. Forget the Lifehacker instructions for Windows, just use the Windows firewall (or any other firewall) to drop ports 1935 TCP and UDP outbound. Literally 2 minutes.

You know what's interesting is that if I "authenticate" with Firefox, I can then watch Hulu from any other machine in my network. I've also disabled my firewall rules so that port 1935 is open again and it's still working. I suppose they must be caching IP's after a successful connection. I bet you could just write a script or something to make a connection to Hulu every so often and stuff would just keep working indefinitely. As long as they didn't change their behavior, anyway. But of course they most certainly will.
posted by tracert at 10:50 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Enjoy your fifteen minutes of Adventures of Pluto Nash, lifehackers!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:02 PM on July 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yeah, tell everyone! That'll show 'em to check for region so carelessly.
posted by setanor at 11:11 PM on July 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Enjoy your fifteen minutes of Adventures of Pluto Nash, lifehackers!

Wow, are you ever browsing the wrong Hulu categories. Comon, man, there's Carl Sagan's Cosmos, episodes of Nova, National Geographic Presents, Alan Alda's Frontiers of Science and so much more. News and Information is where it's at.

Granted someone could probably watch all of the actual good episodes of anything available on Hulu in less than a week or two and then run completely out of culturally redeemable material, but at least it's something.

Oh, right. Sometimes there's ads on the PBS material. What do you mean they're starting to double up the ads? AUGH HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU FORCE ME TO WATCH THAT FUCKING FIVE HOUR ENERGY COMMERCIAL WITH THAT EXCESSIVELY PERKY-SMARMY SHITHEEL? Never mind. Fuck Hulu in the face with a bittorrent client wrapped around a large brick.

Is this ad relevent to you? [Yes] [No]
posted by loquacious at 11:19 PM on July 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


As much as I'm against the stupidity of regional licensing, I don't think a "how to gain unauthorized access to copyrighted material" is appropriate for MeFi.

It is pretty hilarious how terrible Hulu's region checking is, though.
posted by wierdo at 11:19 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, they have Adventures of Pluto Nash on Hulu? Awesome.
posted by koeselitz at 11:24 PM on July 11, 2010


Well, I can't get this fucker to work.

Dammit, Microsoft!
posted by Sys Rq at 11:36 PM on July 11, 2010


So, I haven't tried this yet, but can anyone tell me how to reverse the process (on OSX), lest I want those ports active in the future?
posted by pompomtom at 11:39 PM on July 11, 2010


After I got this up and running the movie on the main Hulu page was A Vampire in Brooklyn.

TOTALLY WORTH THE EFFORT
posted by thecjm at 11:42 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


loquacious: Is this ad relevent to you? [Yes] [No]

I hate that part even more than the ads themselves (which I hate.) How could the ad be relevant when I deliberately clicked to watch [not the ad]?
posted by paisley henosis at 11:54 PM on July 11, 2010


pompomtom: just reboot, or delete the added firewall rules with the commands:
sudo ipfw del 0 deny tcp from any to any 1935
sudo ipfw del 0 deny udp from any to any 1935

posted by zsazsa at 11:56 PM on July 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, right. Sometimes there's ads on the PBS material. What do you mean they're starting to double up the ads? AUGH HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU FORCE ME TO WATCH THAT FUCKING FIVE HOUR ENERGY COMMERCIAL WITH THAT EXCESSIVELY PERKY-SMARMY SHITHEEL? Never mind. Fuck Hulu in the face with a bittorrent client wrapped around a large brick.

And remember with Hulu Plus, you'll have to pay a monthly subscription to watch videos with these shitty commercials!
posted by birdherder at 11:57 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ta!
posted by pompomtom at 11:57 PM on July 11, 2010


Argh, those lines above won't actually do anything. Hooray for ipfw failing silently when given options it doesn't know what to do with.
You'll have to do sudo ipfw list, upon which you'll get output like:
00100 deny tcp from any to any dst-port 1935
00200 deny udp from any to any dst-port 1935

You can then run:
sudo ipfw del 100
sudo ipfw del 200


Rebooting still works, though!
posted by zsazsa at 12:03 AM on July 12, 2010


I hate that part even more than the ads themselves (which I hate.)

Seriously. Since I'm getting older and wiser I'm assuming there's someone out there that actually clicks [Yes] when presented with an ad for... well, I don't know... scented asscheek paste, but the other parts of me are in disbelief anyone would ever click [Yes].

I just keep clicking [No] really fucking hard and hope they'll just stop showing me all ads forever. All it seems to get me is that aforementioned Five Hour Energy ad multiple times per hour, which they redid and actually seems to suck worse than the first one.

I did click [Yes] once on an ad, but it was some socially redeemable non-profit something-or-other that I don't even remember what it was, but it was such a refreshing change from Five Hour Energy I felt compelled to toss Hulu a bone. Save the Tree Octopus or something.

I'd hate to be in advertising. I mean, especially right now. Of course, if I was actually in marketing/advertising I'd probably be compelled to take Bill Hick's strong advice to heart in the most spectacular fashion. "Let's see... Skydiving without a chute, yes yes, but what target? Metal mesh screens, ok, fine red mist, right... Suspended over a stencil of brand Z's logo... Dead marketer... YouTube video... YES THAT'S IT! Compelling, viral, street-savvy, affordable! My God, this is brilliant! Jackson? Hire a skydiving plane and get an industrial fabricator on the line immediately! We're going to win a CLIO!"

Somewhere a marketer is going to read this comment and glean some suspiciously useful bit of information from it. Unless that information is "marketer corpse-pulp street stencils are a great idea!" the following message is explicitly intended for them: Fuck you.
posted by loquacious at 12:21 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


wierdo: "I don't think a "how to gain unauthorized access to copyrighted material" is appropriate for MeFi."

Why not? Circumventing regional access controls is not illegal (in most of Europe anyway - YMMV). Regional access control is a contractual agreement between the IP owner and the content provider. The consumer is under no obligation not to view content that isn't licensed for his/her region.
posted by brokkr at 12:35 AM on July 12, 2010


Why do you guys hate ads so much? Shows don't pay for themselves. What's more, someone has bought like 10,000 servers and set them up and handled the maintenance fees and leagl legwork so that you can click a button and watch thousands of movies or TV shows. Watching a 30 second ad once or twice an hour seems like an incredibly reasonable price to pay for that service, no?

I hate the knee-jerk anti-ad reaction.
posted by GilloD at 12:42 AM on July 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


The consumer is under no obligation not to view content that isn't licensed for his/her region.

No obligation to the content owner, but it is against the TOS of most sites. I'd argue that if you don't like the TOS, you should just not use the site. But I don't really understand why people feel a need to access content that the owner doesn't want them to. Just watch something else.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:47 AM on July 12, 2010


Do you know anything about hackers? Can you jam with the console cowboys in cyberspace?
posted by dhammond at 12:48 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Works as advertised, on OS X.

Of course, then I realized that the only show on Hulu I want to watch is Family Guy, and I already have all of those.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 12:52 AM on July 12, 2010


You may not either directly or through the use of any device, software, internet site, web-based service, or other means remove, alter, bypass, avoid, interfere with, or circumvent any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices marked on the Content or any digital rights management mechanism, device, or other content protection or access control measure associated with the Content including geo-filtering mechanisms.
Yeah, that's pretty clear language. But what if I fail to comply with these terms in whole or part?
If Hulu determines in its sole discretion that you are violating any of these Terms, we may (i) notify you, and (ii) use technical measures to block or restrict your access or use of the Hulu Services.
So, if Hulu's technical measures fail to block or restrict my access or use of the Hulu Services, does that mean that Hulu has not in fact determined in its sole discretion that I am violating its Terms?
In either case, you agree to immediately stop accessing or using in any way (or attempting to access or use) the Hulu Services, and you agree not to circumvent, avoid, or bypass such restrictions, or otherwise restore or attempt to restore such access or use.
Now that's comedy gold. If I'm the sort of person who would ignore a provision designed to work around geo-filtering, why on God's green Earth would I pay any attention to a paragraph of fluff like that?

In any case, now that iView exists, Hulu is simply not worth putting up with its advertising for.
posted by flabdablet at 1:14 AM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why do you guys hate ads so much?

Simply put: Because they consistently lie to our faces and take advantage of people's insecurities to sell people things they don't actually need to be happy. So much of marketing is an offense against the self esteem and self worth of so many to sell worthless baubles.

Worse, they often drive people into debt and make people less happy and fulfilled in the long run. This usually perpetuates the cycle, driving pointless consumption for new things people don't actually need. This drives the "growth industry" that's ravaging and wasting the resources of our planet, not to mention what little precious time we have to be alive and find a fulfilling life.

Truly functional goods or services don't need advertising to sell well.

Given the choice between no ads and no commercial TV shows - assuming that the "no ads" choice solved some of the fundamental problems listed above - I could personally give a fuck if commercially-funded TV and most other media took a dirt nap. Forever. As a species and a culture we'd be better off without it.

Seriously, can you imagine reading a really good book that required you to read an advertisement every chapter or two, especially one that used the insulting psychological tricks that TV advertising resorts to? It would be maddening.

Just because it's what we generally use now to produce income for content-creators, it doesn't make it sane or correct.

My previous answer to the same valid question.
posted by loquacious at 1:24 AM on July 12, 2010 [25 favorites]


Oh come on, they left out the most important steps: posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:27 AM on July 12, 2010 [16 favorites]


Actually, this was the comment I was looking for. It more directly addresses why people "hate advertisers".
posted by loquacious at 1:28 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Given the choice between no ads and no commercial TV shows - assuming that the "no ads" choice solved some of the fundamental problems listed above - I could personally give a fuck if commercially-funded TV and most other media took a dirt nap. "

sounds nice and all - but if you feel so strongly, why are you still watching tv that is paid for by ads? why not wait until it's released on dvd or buy it off of itunes?

there are plenty of ways to circumvent the ads on hulu but i choose not to because i support the hulu model of shorter ad breaks, and sometimes giving you the option to watch a long commercial at the beginning. to me, this is a fair trade.
posted by nadawi at 1:33 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


sounds nice and all - but if you feel so strongly, why are you still watching tv that is paid for by ads? why not wait until it's released on dvd or buy it off of itunes?

I don't know. I don't really "watch" Hulu in any traditional way. My main use for Hulu is watching lowbrow infoporn like Modern Marvels or other really dry documentaries so I can fall asleep. If I'm lucky I'm asleep before the first commercial.

I do this mainly because I don't have any books to read myself to sleep with because they're all still in storage in California. I don't say this out of sense of superiority - if anything it's an admission of a mis-wired brain or something.

I can and do get the same sort of thing from sources like archive.org. While watching old Cosmos episodes was nice, if Hulu folded and vanished I wouldn't personally really care. Your mileage may vary.
posted by loquacious at 1:47 AM on July 12, 2010


Seriously, can you imagine reading a really good book that required you to read an advertisement every chapter or two, especially one that used the insulting psychological tricks that TV advertising resorts to? It would be maddening.

You know there used to be ads in books, right? Some of them, anyway.
posted by Justinian at 2:06 AM on July 12, 2010


You know there used to be ads in books, right? Some of them, anyway.

I didn't know that. I've never seen a book with actual ads in it, and I've seen/read some fairly old books. The earliest of which would probably be 1900s

Anyway, sorry for the ad-hating derail. I'm going to go watch something pithy and see if I can fall asleep.
posted by loquacious at 2:30 AM on July 12, 2010


You know there used to be ads in books, right? Some of them, anyway.

Terry Pratchett said that in the German translations of his books, there used to be adverts actually inserted into the text. As in "it should be right about now that our heroes are getting thirsty - some Maggi soup would really go down a treat!"
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 2:32 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Clearly my skills at blocking outbound ports in Windows need some polishing, since I can't get this to work when I'm using my 3G dongle...but connecting through my router and blocking the ports there works like magic.
posted by Jimbob at 2:33 AM on July 12, 2010


The post immediately preceding this one is about how advertisers thought it perfectly right and proper to exercise their influence on the topic of motorcycle safety gear. Needless to say, that influence did not have the goal of making motorcyclists safer.

It's probably hyperbolic to say that advertising is a system of control. But it is definitely a system interested in circumscribing your knowledge and directing your interests. I'm not a dog: I don't get excited when master dangles a leash in my face.

Shorter: fuck ads.
posted by Ritchie at 2:37 AM on July 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Fixed! Perfect! Now that I've achieved this, I'm going to go read a book.
posted by Jimbob at 2:40 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've never seen a book with actual ads in it, and I've seen/read some fairly old books. The earliest of which would probably be 1900s

I've got some murder mystery paperbacks from the 1970s that have a few ads in them. Mostly for other books. I think there might also be some cigarette ads.
posted by JanetLand at 3:12 AM on July 12, 2010


I've got some murder mystery paperbacks from the 1970s that have a few ads in them. Mostly for other books. I think there might also be some cigarette ads.

I've seen plenty of paperbacks with ads in the back of the book promoting more paperbacks or related products.

What I haven't seen is in-line, mid-book advertisements like this:

Terry Pratchett said that in the German translations of his books, there used to be adverts actually inserted into the text. As in "it should be right about now that our heroes are getting thirsty - some Maggi soup would really go down a treat!"

If that happened to me while reading so much as a Theodore Sturgeon Kilgore Trout dime-store pulp I think I'd be so frightened and repulsed I'd throw the book as far away from me as I could and start running in the opposite direction.

This comment is brought to you in part by CorticalContextuals, makers of CAN'T SLEEP, ADS WILL EAT METM. Tired of seeing ads all the time? Can't stay focused? Keeping up with the Joneses got you down? Order CAN'T SLEEP, ADS WILL EAT METM today! Now with more effective neurolinguistic ad-blocking technology and available as a SmartFilmTM on prescription lenses, contacts and sunglasses of all shapes and styles! Side effects may include unfashionable pants and an inability to engage in small talk with non-subscribers to CAN'T SLEEP, ADS WILL EAT METM.
posted by loquacious at 3:49 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've definitely seen paperbacks from the sixties and seventies with ads in them, usually for cigarettes.
posted by octothorpe at 5:17 AM on July 12, 2010


I don't know who or what a plutonash is, but if you are going to circumvent restrictions to watch TV, why not do the *really* easy thing and not even stream it? Torrents, hello?
posted by DU at 5:18 AM on July 12, 2010


Is this something I'd have to have a computer to . . . .

oh never fucking mind.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:18 AM on July 12, 2010


Ritchie wrote: "I don't get excited when master dangles a leash in my face."

Yeah, but nobody's forcing you to put on that leash. Even if you want to watch ad-laden content, you can ignore the ads. It does take some mental effort to avoid being influenced subliminally, though.

That doesn't mean that don't generally suck, though.
posted by wierdo at 5:30 AM on July 12, 2010


I've seen plenty of paperbacks with ads in the back of the book promoting more paperbacks or related products.

What I haven't seen is in-line, mid-book advertisements


I agree that your Terry Pratchett example is indeed hellish, and something I hope I never ever see. The ads in my 70s paperbacks, though, are not at the end but are in the middle of the book -- you're reading merrily along and Poirot is about to make a really important point, and suddenly there's this weird stiff cardboardy page with an ad. Not in-line, but annoying still. My mom used to rip them out and use them for bookmarks.
posted by JanetLand at 5:37 AM on July 12, 2010


The first rule of international hulu access club is you don't talk about hulu access club!

Might as well send a direct letter to Hulu - they're sure to notice and close it down eventually.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:09 AM on July 12, 2010


I don't understand why you would do this. The moment you circumvent Hulu's access restrictions, you are illegally downloading an unauthorized copy of the copyrighted content they store there. You are pirating content. So if you've made the moral decision to do this, why not just get it from a torrent site and spare yourself the commercials?
posted by Pastabagel at 6:18 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


they consistently lie to our faces and take advantage of people's insecurities to sell people things they don't actually need to be happy. So much of marketing is an offense against the self esteem and self worth of so many to sell worthless baubles.

Your position fascinates me. I mean that literally, not in a condescending way. I hate ads, too, but for more selfish reasons. They're boring interruptions. I really hate it when they come at emotional peaks. I'm torn apart, worrying that Sir Archibald is going to leave his lovely wife, Malinda, and then ... USE DRAINO!

But I wonder if you've ever explored the ends, nooks and crannies of your ethics. Do you believe in a free-market system? If one exists in a large country, surely sellers need some way to get the word out about their goods. Or do you think word-of-mouth always works? If people are going to announce their goods, I guess you'd prefer them to do it in a neutral way: "We've invented a new compound for unclogging drains. In our tests, it seems to work really well, but we haven't done large-scale tests yet..."

That would be awesome, but it seem contrary to human nature. As soon as you let people announce their product, prejudice in favor of it is going to creep in. I'm not sure how any system could be set up that allows people to announce products but keeps prejudice out -- or keeps prejudice to a minimum. You'd need a gargantuan bureaucracy to monitor and test every claim.
posted by grumblebee at 6:32 AM on July 12, 2010


I don't understand why you would do this. The moment you circumvent Hulu's access restrictions, you are illegally downloading an unauthorized copy of the copyrighted content they store there. You are pirating content. So if you've made the moral decision to do this, why not just get it from a torrent site and spare yourself the commercials?

But (said from ignorance, because I don't use Hulu), isn't Hulu instantaneous? You have to wait (sometimes a really long time) for a torrent.
posted by grumblebee at 6:34 AM on July 12, 2010


Also, I doubt most Hulu-users ONLY use Hulu. I hate going to movie theatres, so when I want to watch something, I start by checking Netflix; then I check Amazon.com and Blockbuster.com. Then, if I was the sort of person who broke laws, I would check torrent sites and sites like Hulu. My point is that no one site or source has everything. If you want to watch something specific, you have search around.
posted by grumblebee at 6:36 AM on July 12, 2010


Pastabagel: Could you be a bit more hyperbolic?
posted by odinsdream at 6:41 AM on July 12, 2010


25 minutes in, and I can't get it to work on Windows 7. I'm a dolt, I suspect.
posted by Rumpled at 6:48 AM on July 12, 2010


About ads, just wanted to back up grumblebee:

Advertising is not, in and of itself, bad. Maybe glance here. For the tl;dr crowd:

"Contrary to the monopoly explanation (and to the assertion that advertising is a wasteful expense), advertising often lowers prices. In a classic study of advertising restrictions on optometrists, Lee Benham found that eyeglass prices were twenty dollars higher (in 1963 dollars) in states banning advertising than in those that did not. Bans on price advertising, but not on other kinds of advertising, resulted in prices nearly as low as in the states without any restrictions at all. Benham argued that advertising allows high-volume, low-cost retailers to communicate effectively with potential customers, even if they cannot mention price explicitly."

(That isn't to say advertising is an unmitigated good - those 5 Hour Energy ads are creepy as all get out, and there's obviously a lot of abuse. But the discussion is somewhat more complex than 'ads are inherently evil, let's ban 'em all.')
posted by mordax at 6:55 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


So if you've made the moral decision to do this, why not just get it from a torrent site and spare yourself the commercials?

'cause it's many times easier just to click on a Hulu link and watch a TV show instantly streaming than to find a tracker for the file you want, start bittorrent, wait for the download, find a player for whatever random format the show was encoded with and finally watch it.
posted by octothorpe at 7:00 AM on July 12, 2010


Anybody tried this in the last few hours, and does it work? I don't want to go through all this trouble (yes, I don't know shit about computers) to find it already, predictably, blocked.

I'm dying to watch Jersey Shore, you know.

While we're all here, does changing these port-thingies cause any possible security risks?
posted by Chichibio at 7:40 AM on July 12, 2010


Here's an NYT article from a couple years back about ads in paperback books during the 1960s:

In 1958, the Madison Avenue adman Roy Benjamin founded the Quality Book Group, a consortium of the paperback industry heavyweights Bantam Books, Pocket Books and the New American Library. Despite the lofty name, the group’s real purpose was to sell advertisements in paperbacks, and its first target was the biggest success of them all: Dr. Benjamin Spock’s “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.” A 1959 Pocket Books print run of 500,000 included advertisements by Q-Tips, Carnation and Procter & Gamble. By 1963, a 26-page insert in Spock was commanding $6,500 to $7,500 per page, and ads were spreading into mysteries and other pulps as well. It was a windfall for everyone — everyone, that is, except the authors...

The bulk of paperback advertising came from tobacco companies, which were looking for new places to push their products after a federal ban on cigarette advertising on television and radio passed in 1969....But it wasn’t just pulp fiction that was singled out. Lorillard ordered advertisements in 74,000 copies of Toni Morrison’s novel “The Bluest Eye,” while other cigarette ads turned up in books assigned in schools...

By [1983], the practice was fading anyway, thanks in part to an Authors Guild model contract banning unauthorized ads. The demographics of smoking were also changing, with smokers becoming less educated. An internal 1983 study for a “Salem Spirit” cigarette campaign found that “most had no compunction admitting they read very little.” One respondent had read only one book in his life: “The Amityville Horror.” The little that male Salem smokers in 1983 did read, the researchers noted dryly, included “sports news, the want ads” and “manuals on pot growing.”

posted by mediareport at 7:53 AM on July 12, 2010


Oop, here's the article.
posted by mediareport at 7:54 AM on July 12, 2010


So if you've made the moral decision to do this, why not just get it from a torrent site and spare yourself the commercials?

This.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:07 AM on July 12, 2010


While we're all here, does changing these port-thingies cause any possible security risks?

It's not opening any ports up, it's blocking outgoing traffic from your computer to those ports on servers out on the internet. So no security risks, as long as you type the firewall rules correctly.
posted by zsazsa at 9:28 AM on July 12, 2010


I've given up on Hulu completely since the changes in May have made the buffering issue insurmountable. It might not be worth it. *shrugs*
posted by RedEmma at 10:01 AM on July 12, 2010


Truly functional goods or services don't need advertising to sell well.

Eh ... I doubt that's true, but in any event, what happens if other people are competing with you to sell functional goods or services? How is someone supposed to know you exist, or that you're better?

I don't like ads either, but I can't say I agree with what you're claiming.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:56 AM on July 12, 2010


Seriously, can you imagine reading a really good book that required you to read an advertisement every chapter or two, especially one that used the insulting psychological tricks that TV advertising resorts to? It would be maddening.

loquacious, I think you just predicted the future.

Here's how I see it coming:

Amazon Kindle guys: "Hey, schooldistricts? Spending too much money on textbooks? How does this sound: a free KINDLE for every student loaded with all the books he needs! The only catch is that these devices are programmed to play ad every few pages of algebra."
posted by gnossie at 10:59 AM on July 12, 2010


A little too much precious in this thread.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:18 AM on July 12, 2010


Everybody hates advertising until they themselves have to advertise.
posted by bonefish at 12:49 PM on July 12, 2010


I sort of feel sorry for ads now. They pay for all this stuff and it seems so easy to ignore them. Even catchy ads that I remember, it's rarely because of the product. I worry about what will happen if the ad people ever catch on to how easy it is to ignore, skip, delete, block, move on, etc. Who'll foot the bill for everything then?

Though they won't. What choice do they have, really? Gotta keep your RL page rank high.
posted by umberto at 1:26 PM on July 12, 2010


grumblebee (and others):

Yeah, I don't have a solution or answer to those problems. If I did I'd be shouting it from the rooftops.

It just seems that the advertising oversaturation is really screwing with our culture and our daily lives in a detrimental way, and doesn't lend itself to sane growth or consumption. I feel very strongly that there's a concrete link between how much TV/video people watch and how much advertising they're exposed to - and how people feel about themselves and their lives.

I'm not saying that all advertising is bad, but when we're so oversaturated that advertisers are manipulating the feelings of self worth and satisfaction and tearing down their egos with entirely unrealistic expectations of what their lives should be - that's a huge problem. It's mean, it's underhanded and it's bullshit.

Apart from going all James Howard Kunstler and arguing for a return to a more agrarian, tribal existence and eliminating mass production and consumption - which I don't actually advocate - I'm not sure what solution there is. But it just seems like there should be a more realistic, conscious and conscientious way to go about industry and commerce as opposed to the way we do it now where people are berated and hammered with misleading ideals.

Car companies usually show their product in commercials on open roads, cruising through beautiful countrysides, but buying a brand new car off usually ties people even more firmly to their jobs, giving them less opportunities to cruise these unrealistically empty roads. Even when cars are shown in cities, they never show a traffic jam, which is where you'll realistically be spending most of your time going to and from a job to pay for that shiny new car.

Even fast food joints abuse notions of unrealistic sexuality and beauty to sell... cheeseburgers. Are you kidding me? That size 0 supermodel does not regularly eat giant double cheeseburgers with triple bacon, and objectively we can all easily point out that a typical fat-ass consumer (say, me) isn't going to be more attractive to a supermodel while eating one of those sloppy gut bombs. Yet it still sells burgers - because people are lonely and insecure, and fatty foods make people feel better very briefly by triggering physiological and psychological responses in the consumer beyond nutrition, hunger or taste. It's just about as addictive as cigarettes or alcohol, really.

The number of examples of these kinds of unrealistic suggestions and promises sell everything from socks to cell phones. You would be happy and your life could be this perfect with instant gratification if you bought this phone. Your spouse doesn't actually love you unless they bought you several thousand dollars of shiny rocks for your anniversary. The drudgery of chores are magically wiped away with this new sponge or cleaner.

When in reality - that new phone complicates your life and absorbs your free time, those shiny rocks are less personal and less a symbol of love than an interesting pebble you found on the beach on your first date and that sponge or fancy new cleaning product is only marginally better than an old sock and some vinegar.

These unrealistic suggestions or promises mislead people into thinking they're somehow failures because their kitchens aren't spotless, or because they're not dating sexy supermodels who also just happen to eat giant fatty cheeseburgers, or because they're inferior for some reason because their car is no longer as shiny as it once was and they're stuck in a rush-hour grind instead of on a completely empty, winding country road all their own.

This is not a recipe for cultural or social health. It's a recipe for social disaster.

The only immediate solution I personally have is to try to keep reminding people that they are not their fucking khakis, that their lives have intrinsic value above and beyond the shit that they buy, that they are not their cars or kitchen appliances or the color of the house paint the use, and that it doesn't have to be this way.

Because I keep wishing for a world were people are more free to express themselves through more immediate and real social interactions rather than the simulacra of identical, mass produced commodity consumer goods. I would rather listen to someone's made up stories or view someones art (good or bad) than watch some focus-group tested drama on TV, or eat a meal that someone made that was personal instead of the exact same McDonald's cheeseburger anywhere in the world - because these are the things that are really valuable because someone you know made them with their own hands with you or me in mind - not some faceless aggregate of optimized data tuned to parameters to sell maximum quantities of goods to the most people possible.

There has to be a better balance. And in many ways, we can see people striving for these very personal and individual interactions and things through services like Etsy, or DIY groups and hands on hardware hackers, or even things like YouTube or Apples iPhone app store where there's less vertical integration and more person-to-person interaction.

Stuff like desktop manufacturing and open-source industrial design could blow the lid off of the current model - or it could make things worse and drive hyperconsumerism through the roof in a quest for more individuality and standing out from the crowds.

Am I too militantly idealistic and naive? Well, duh. Yeah, that's kind of a given at this point. If you don't mind I'll keep dreaming. I'm not the only one.

If I come up with anything more useful beyond "You're awesome just the way you are. Just be yourself. I don't care what kind of car you drive or what you wear." I promise I'll tell you.
posted by loquacious at 4:25 PM on July 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Everybody hates advertising until they themselves have to advertise.

Like loquacious, I experience hair-trigger visceral HATE when confronted with intrusive, attention-grabbing, manipulative advertising.

I don't mind Google text ads. I'm sure I'm not alone in not minding Google text ads, and I suspect that this may have something to do with Google's ability to make so much money.

And for what it's worth, the only advertising I have ever bought on my own behalf was one box of very plain business cards. I still have about 400 of them left.
posted by flabdablet at 1:09 AM on July 13, 2010


And for what it's worth, the only advertising I have ever bought on my own behalf was one box of very plain business cards. I still have about 400 of them left.

That can work for some businesses. Others need advertising. But the best advertising is still word of mouth, IMO, and annoying ads don't generate goodwill. There is only so far you can saturate before it becomes background noise or an irritant. I tend to hyperfocus, but I can easily get distracted. If I'm watching a movie I do not want ads interspersed at all.

One of the best lessons you can learn in marketing is to do promotions for a small-time touring band. Nobody gives a shit, truly. You are nobody, and worse, you all need showers and smell like 1000 bars. You have to generate buzz. Yeah, you gotta be a bit of a salesperson, but if you really like the music it's easy. It's when it gets big that people are involved in promotions who don't give a shit about the music, truly, as long as they get paid. I think it's when those people are involved that the line is crossed from socially acceptable marketing to pushing the envelope of irritation to get noticed.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:33 AM on July 13, 2010


Personally, I see a huge distinction between advertising that's trying to make me buy something I don't WANT and don't NEED, and advertising that's trying to tell me to come to their business to buy something I do need. The internet is full of ads pushing complete, utter bullshit. I really wish I could visit a favourite website and see an ad telling me that bananas are currently on special for $1.98 a kg at my local supermarket, instead of an ad talking about How I Can Use Web 2.0 Sales Process Management - Sales 2.0: See How Businesses Are Using Online Collaboration To Spark Sales!
posted by Jimbob at 3:59 AM on July 13, 2010


A few days late, but just to clarify:

I don't like ads or advertisers. There's a reason I left that business- It's creepy and strange. I agree it's a soul destroying and evil line of work.

But as a 'fee' to pay to access Hulu, it's a tiny, tiny fee. It's nothing. It's 30 seconds of your time. People who complain that "Oh, I have to watch a commercial before I can ACCESS A GIGANTIC ARCHIVE OF VIDEO MEDIA INSTANTANEOUSLY FROM THE COMFORT OF MY HOME" strike me as ridiculous. That Louie CK bit about everything being amazing and no one being happy comes to mind.
posted by GilloD at 8:56 PM on July 14, 2010


It's 30 seconds of your time.

Ads that play before videos don't bother me at all (I just hate ads that interrupt already-started videos). They don't bother me, because I don't watch them. As soon as they start, I shift my focus to some other browser tab -- shifting back to Hulu (or wherever) when the video starts.

Many video ads are even kind enough to include countdown timers. I don't watch them count down (because then I'd be watching the ad), but they do give me a rough sense of when I should return my focus to the video.

I guess you could argue that I subconsciously am affected by the ad. If so, I suspect it's a tiny, tiny amount of influence. Most of the time, if you asked me what the ad was for, I wouldn't be able to tell you, even if it's five seconds after the ad has ended.

Along similar lines, I have trained myself to close YouTube video ads the second the appear. I don't even think about it any more. I see the little x-in-a-box close button, and my hand moves my mouse towards it, and I click. I have no idea what the ads are for.

This has become so rote, that my guess is that if I happened to glimpse an ad before closing it and WAS interested in it, I would probably close it anyway, and then be pissed off that I'd closed it. This has happened to me once or twice with popup ads. I sometimes even accidentally close non-ads. Basically, if it's anything window-like within a browser window, I have a knee-jerk impulse to close it.

Unless it's 100% subconscious, I never notice google ads or gmail ads. When people first started talking about google ads, I had no idea what they were talking about. I said, "I go to google all the time. I never see ads." A friend had to point the ads out to me. I realized that I'd trained myself to not look over to small columns on the right of web pages -- because they are almost always ads. For similar reasons, I rarely notice banner ads. (And my eye drifts past those top google "hits" that are actually ads. Thanks, google, for making them look different from the real hits. That has allowed me to easily train my brain to skip them.)

I always miss friends' birthdays on Facebook, because Facebook announces them on the right side of the page -- in the ad column. My wife and I will be looking at the same page, and she'll say, "It's Fred's birthday," and it will take me a second to understand how we can be looking at the same page but seeing different information. "Oh, yeah! It's in that area on the right I never look at."

I wonder how many people are like me. If there are lots of people like me, how effective are all these web ads? I guess they are very effective, otherwise google would be out of business. But I don't really get why all these people who hate ads haven't naturally drifted to the same strategies I have -- which I pretty much developed without trying to develop them. Maybe it's because I find ads more boring than evil. I just think "Stuff on the right: boring." I guess if I was outraged, I might be unable to ignore it.
posted by grumblebee at 5:58 AM on July 15, 2010


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