Ubuntu and Multimedia

One of my minor annoyances with Ubuntu is the lack of a sensible out-of-the-box multimedia support.

Oh, I know why things are this way. As a matter of principle, the development team will not include proprietary players or codecs in the Ubuntu distribution. This is so as to avoid any possible litigation. Individual users like you and me can install those packages ourselves.

So really, it's not Ubuntu's fault. It's the messed up state-of-affairs of the world.

Still: But...but...but...why can't I get my multimedia files to play immediately after I install Ubuntu?

There are three distinct situations where I normally have to manually install multimedia components in Ubuntu to make it usable for my everyday audio/video needs.

1. Loading in the MP3 codecs.
2. Installing a minimally usable video player like Mplayer to replace the near-useless Totem video player.

3. Loading a Flash player for Mozilla.

Gah! I wish things would just work!

And no, I don't want to have to use something like Automatix to do this.