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The beautiful dream of this 1997 Onion article is finally coming to life

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I think we can all agree that The Onion is one of America's greatest treasures. And I'm not just saying that because they're headquartered in my adopted hometown of Chicago; I'm saying it because it's absolutely true. Its ability to consistently capture our malaise — whatever our malaise of the day may be — and translate it into meaningful, sharply funny satire is almost overwhelming, particularly during weeks like this. (Wired tells it well in a piece that published just earlier this week.)

But I'm not here to heap generic praise on America's Finest News Source, there's been plenty of that. I'm here to question whether its writers and editors are, in fact, shapeshifting time-travelers from an alternate dimension who do a better job of predicting the future than actual, non-satirical pundits do.

onion-rcrc-01

The suspiciously prescient "remote-controlled remote control," as envisioned by The Onion.


We all have an Onion article or two that sticks with us over the years. One of mine is this February 5th, 1997 gem, "New Remote Control Can Be Operated By Remote," which coincidentally comes to mind whenever I'm sprawled out on the couch and my Harmony Elite is just out of reach. "The new remote control — along with the additional remote it is designed to control — will soon come standard with all Sony televisions, allowing viewers to remain 'more immobile, more stationary, and more physically inert than ever before,'" the piece reads.

Ha! Except that's not really funny at all, because I want it. I want it almost every night of my life, and I bet you do, too.

Fast forward 19 years, and we learn from our good friend Dave Zatz that Logitech is testing Harmony compatibility with Amazon Alexa. At long last: we can bark commands at an Echo, which will relay commands to the Harmony remote, which will control the television. The Onion didn't have the details exactly right — it predicted a physical second remote, not an always-listening black monolith on your kitchen counter — but the net effect is the same. In fact, Alexa does an even better job of ensuring you don't need to move, because there's no remote-controlled remote control (RCRC, in Onion parlance) to misplace.

So on that note, I'd recommend that you stop paying attention to anything I say about the future and start paying very close attention to the time lords in Chicago. Seriously, there's something going on over there. Someone should look into it.