IKEA is your new VCR

27/03/2011 //

Back in the 80s and early 90s, there seemed to be a running joke about how complicated it was to program a VCR, presumably because you had to perform complex operations like:

  • Entering the “start” time
  • Entering the “stop” time
  • Selecting the correct channel
  • Pressing “off”

And audiences laughed, as if the idea of a grown man unable to tell time or press a corresponding button was a cause of mirth rather than a horrible indictment of a failing school system and a telltale sign of a consumerist society collapsing upon its own ignorant backside. Look, programming a VCR wasn’t hard. I was nine when we got one, and I figured it out. I certainly wasn’t a prodigy; feel free to ask anyone.

We’re now well into the 21st century, yet very little has actually changed, except that the onus is now on IKEA furniture instead of mercifully antiquated tech. I’ve heard several comedians stripmining this vein of everyday observational comedy recently, always with the same approach. ‘Hey, you ever put together one of those [insert umlauted name here] things? It’s hard! Crazy Swedes, amirite?’

Even if the delivery is good, it’s not a terribly funny joke the umpteenth time around, especially when you’ve never actually had a problem assembling this stuff.

Being such a humanitarian, then, I offer this nugget of insight to the perpetually perplexed: 1) The parts in the box have corresponding visual representations in the instructions and 2) the screws go on in the holes, genius.