I can't pretend that watching this kind of cartoon violence ruins a person. I watched Warner Bros. cartoons featuring gags like this all the time growing up, and I've managed to survive to this day. (Although I had one close call due to a mix-up between rabbit season and duck season.) But, you know, I think we can live with a lack of suicide jokes in our entertainment options. I think that's something we can safely tuck away in our past.
For anyone who wasn't alive to know what one is, a VCR was basically a tape-based DVD player. Which was itself a kind of disk-based Netflix device that required you to first drive to a Blockbuster. Which was itself a kind of horse-powered ... you know what, forget it. A VCR was a magic box that granted wishes.
But only if those wishes were for the chance to see grainy recorded episodes of Murphy Brown.
A recurring gag in film and television from this era was how hard VCRs were to program, in particular the clocks on them. A flashing "12:00" became the universal sign that someone found their VCR too difficult to program. There have probably been billions of jokes made about how difficult it was to set the clock on a VCR, with the implication being that the butt of the joke was a helpless simpleton.
"So this VCR box somehow steals the soul of these actors and forces them to react to these scenes for eternity? Super!"
The thing that always pissed me off about this joke, aside from the fact that I heard it a billion times, is how it was utter nonsense. VCRs were not hard to program. They were annoying to program. More importantly, there was no need to program them -- we all had better, more usable clocks everywhere else in the household, and resetting the clock on the VCR every time the power went out was pointless. That's why these clocks stayed blinking. Because people couldn't rightfully be bothered.
The intent of these jokes -- making fun of old people -- is fine and admirable. We, as a society, need to mock the elderly more. But if someone didn't set the time on their VCR, that wasn't a sign of stupidity. It was a sign of someone who had set their priorities perfectly.
Hosseinshamloo via Wikimedia Commons
"Ehhh. I'll just ask my kids to do it. I've been looking for a way to instill in them a false sense of superiority."
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and is rapidly becoming the elderly. Join him on Facebook or Twitter to mock him for it.