Friday, January 4, 2008
I'm not television's # 1 fan by any stretch of the imagination. I'm also not a technophobic Luddite, either. There have been times throughout my 3 decades that I have gone without cable television. Some of those times were voluntary, others were involuntary. (No tengo the dinero, if you know what I mean.) Lately, though, I think I could do without it.
What's happened? Has the culture changed, or has the t.v. changed the culture? Figure that one out, and I'll sell you that ocean front property in Arizona that George Strait has been crooning about since '86. Basically what I am trying to say is that t.v. is shit. It's corrosive. It's condescending. And it's insulting. Don't believe me? Maybe you're getting a different signal than me.
The big picture here is that television is the most popular form of regular entertainment for the average American. Americans seem to think there is a clause in the Constitution that regulates the amount of television that each citizen is required to log each week. People. It's okay to turn the set off. It's okay to not watch. It's okay to go outside and throw a Frisbee. It's okay to read a book.
Until this year, I hadn't watched a television program religiously since FOX cancelled Firefly back in '03. I've never liked the idea of having to be in front of the set at a specific time and day each week anyway. What if I have a barmitzvah to go to? Then I'm totally out of the loop unless I remember to put in a tape and set the recorder. And before you ask, no, I don't have tevo, or any of that other jazz. I'm not about to pay for digital cable. (Yo tengo the dinero. I just don't want to spendy the dinero.) However, my fiancée managed to get me hooked on The Office last year, and I am totally Jonesing for new episodes. I still don't watch every week, but it never seems to affect my ability to pick back up the next week and enjoy a new episode. But with the WGA (Writer's Guild of America) still on strike, there have been no new episodes for weeks. No new episodes of The Office means there is not a lot of incentive for me to turn on the tube. Even my old stand by channels have been producing lackluster fare lately.
Discovery and The History Channel seem to be content to bask in the glory of past successes, despite the fact that audiences have moved on, and are ready for something fresh. The History Channel has worn me out on all things World War II. If I see another program about Hitler I'm gonna climb a tower with an air rifle. Hell, a lot of THC's programming has little or nothing to do with actual history. (Can you say Ice Road Truckers?) The Discovery Channel seems to be spinning its wheels with series that were once very refreshing. How far can you stretch Dirty Jobs and Mythbusters before they become just boring? I used to like The Learning Channel until they started to steer away from their namesake. Now it's TLC. Does that stand for The Lame Channel? I really could do without the endless shows about tattooing, runway models, and fashion sense. That annoying guy and girl that host TLC's What Not To Wear have got their names on one of my bb's, if I ever decide to climb that tower. NBC, CBS, FOX, MTV, and many other channels have all got their requisite ca ca doody, slap you in the face with their dumb-dumbery, reality programming. It's everywhere! Wife Swap, Nanny 911, America's Next Top Model are only a few of what you can find if you close your eyes and throw the dart (although, I will admit that I am quite excited that American Gladiator is back on!).
My solution is to visit Barnes and Noble, Half Priced Books, the good old library, or even your own book shelves. Find a book. Read. Repeat. Easy, huh?
I don't see potato chip stocks crashing, though, and I don't think publishing house stocks are skyrocketing either. Lifestyles have changed. People want instant gratification. You don't get instant gratification from Dostoevsky. Heck, you can't even get that from a romance novel, unless you're an intrepid individual willing to skip ahead a few pages to the steamy bits. In the end, I hope the writers come back to t.v. and movies soon. I will always read, but I do so miss The Office.
You think 100 years from now people will remember the creator of Beauty and the Geek in the same breath as Shakespeare and Homer?