Good Media Manners – Friends Don’t let Friends Motion-Smooth

Dear GMM,

I know that it’s been a while since you last responded to any letters, but I’m desperately hoping you can help me, I’m in dire straits. You see, I was at a friend’s place recently and they had motion-smoothing turned on for every TV in their house. How can I tell them that they have to change this without ruining our friendship?

Will J

Dear Will,

That is a doozy. Motion-smoothing, as has been documented over and over again makes the best movies in the world look like the cheapest of soap operas. It takes the intent of the filmmaker (or TV program maker) and chucks it out the window in favor of something absurd.  An argument can be made for its use in sports programming, but that’s about it.

GMM actually went into Best Buy the other week to look at TVs and compare models, but as every single television in the store had motion-smoothing turned on the trip was fruitless except for making us slightly queasy and more than a little upset.  One cannot correctly compare the pros and cons of a television with motion-smoothing turned on because all one can see is one big, artificially smoothed, con.

That is all to say that GMM knows your pain. The solution, however, is slightly more complicated than recognizing the problem and depends greatly on the specifics of your relationship and your friend’s TV knowledge.

Do you have an open and honest relationship with this person? Is this a good friend to whom you can express all of your deepest darkest secrets? Are they aware that they have motion-smoothing turned on? Are they aware of what it is in the first place?

If this is a close friend and they don’t know what they’re doing, it is your duty to tell them. You have clearly lost some respect for this individual but you care for them. You don’t want your friend to turn off scads more people, so you have to say something. Do it gently. Maybe a “We need to talk. You know that we’re friends and that I would never want to do anything to jeopardize that. The problem isn’t you, it’s your TV. Your TV has motion-smoothing turned on. John Wayne’s ‘The Searchers’ shouldn’t look like yesterday’s ‘GH,’ motion-smoothing has to be turned off. Let me help.”

You can always also opt to ask for a drink and then just change the setting when they’re out of the room. If they don’t know about motion-smoothing they may not notice the change, especially if you’re flipping channels when they come back. The trick here is to familiarize yourself with their TV’s menus in advance (do some internet research) so you can make the switch quickly and cleanly.

If you’re not good friends with this person and they don’t know what they’re doing, it becomes moderately more tricky. I suggest being open and forthright, “I see you have motion-smoothing turned on. I have always found it more harmful than not, what makes you keep it on?” Again here, honest dialogue is the key.  With a little luck, they’ll let you turn it off, especially if there’s a movie immediately available for you to show a comparison.

Then there’s the situation where this individual, whether a good friend or not, knows what they’re doing and purposefully has motion-smoothing set to on. While this may seem like the trickiest of scenarios, it isn’t.  This one is all on you.  Stop, go home, and reassess your friendship (whether it be strong or budding). Is this the sort of person you truly want in your life?

GMM thinks that in your heart you already know the answer.


Good Media Manners

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