In the late days of VHS I remember becoming extraordinarily pissed with the format. I loved seeing trailers for other movies before the feature played (it made it more like an actual theatrical experience), but standard television commercials were increasingly becoming the norm for VHS. These were in the days before commercials were commonplace in the theater, and I remember getting annoyed with ordinary commercials before my trailers. That same annoyance would happen as commercials became standard for theaters as well.

DVD has largely saved us from that commercial annoyance, although that’s started to fade in recent years. Not only do we get annoying “blended” trailers from some studios, combining two or three movies into one trailer, but we get those wonderful anti-piracy ads at the beginning of DVDs. Because a movie pirate is going to see that commercial and realize they are doing wrong and need to stop now. No, it’s the honest people who suffer those commercials.

Add on top of that a new trend we can expect to see alongside those “piracy is wrong” commercials - anti-smoking public service announcements. Variety announced yesterday that Paramount, Sony, Disney, Warner Brothers, and Universal (basically all your heavy hitters except Fox) will be placing anti-smoking ads on DVDs rated G, PG, and PG-13 thanks to an agreement between the entertainment industry and California health officials. Fox has a separate agreement for anti-spoking PSAs. Expect the first ad to appear on the front of Sony’s 21.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m all for anti-smoking PSAs. I’ve never smoked, and a lot of that choice can be related to an onslaught of anti-smoking messages I received in my formative years from school, parents, and PSAs on television. But now we’re turning DVDs into yet another venue for too many commercials, after most consumers have already complained about being subjected to commercial ads in theaters. Aren’t studios listening? Is there some sort of study out there to prove that annoying viewers with this PSA is going to make a sizable dent in the number of smokers out there?

At least at home we have some control, assuming studios don’t produce discs that disallow viewers to fast forward past their new PSAs. I fear it’s soon going to get to the point that home entertainment will be like going to the movies, where you put in your DVD, press play, go get a snack, and then return to your television in time for your movie.

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