As techies line up to buy their iPads tomorrow, please say a prayer for the future of American popular entertainment. Last night I watched my Tivo’d version of the hit sitcom “Modern Family.” It’s a great show – clever dialogue, nicely rounded characters, lots of sharp cultural clashes. But as everyone knows now, one of the main plots revolved around Phil (the real estate salesman with three kids) excitedly waiting to receive an iPad from his wife Claire. References to Apple and Steve Jobs abounded. The show actually ended with a demo of the visual applications of the device using a birthday cake, followed by Phil lovingly stroking said device.

I like buying things — I understand why my fellow consumerbots get a jolt standing in line for some new product (although I don’t like to stand in line for anything). I’ve reconciled myself to all the corporate names slapped on public locations, as in: “If you want to get to Domino’s Pizza Park, get on the Tampax Interstate, exit by the Boniva Library, and make a left at the Cool Ranch Doritos Amphitheatre.” But to position a new product as the driver of a TV show’s plot – and air it just days before the launch of the product – proves that Big Capitalism can be just as creepy as Big Government. The fact that the writers volunteered to do it doesn’t make it less putrid. (This post brought to you, indirectly, by Apple).