I get pretty miffed when the “cable cutter” enthusiasts try to argue that online video will drag society out of the depths of depravity found in TV programming.
After all, what are most teens watching online? You can bet it’s NOT Masterpiece Theater or Nature. More likely they’re watching video’s of guys becoming eunuch’s when skateboard tricks land them on handrails.
This attack in TV is nothing new. I remember making it a few times in youthful enthusiasm while in college. Still, proponents of new media too often sound like sci-fi books — promising a “glorious future” where the internet changes mankind. (They are, of course, merely the latest to claim to remake humanity in thousands of years of such movements.)
What they forget is the history of human entertainment. Let’s do a quick review, shall we?
– 1900 years ago, the penultimate entertainment venue was the Coliseum – do you prefer Christians eaten by lions, life & death ship battles, or live gladiatorial murder? Yup. Pretty enlightening.
– During the middle ages, public execution seems to have been quite popular. I don’t have the Nielsen’s, but from what I read most families found it difficult to skip such gruesome events.
As life progressed, public entertainment continued in this vein until quite recently (when you consider mankind’s long history).
In other words, TV might just be the PINNACLE of mass human entertainment – NOT it’s nadir. After all, it’s clear humanity can find some pretty base things entertaining.
Today’s TV isn’t so bad (unless you want to suggest Glee is similar to live gladiatorial contests taken to the death). Certainly we continue to see life/death drama – except now it’s without loss of life or limb.
Is the web better? Or is it worse? You can find some enlightening viewing on the web just like you can find enlightening viewing on TV (I’d argue TV economics create more of it and of better quality).
But the web lacks the constraints of network, government oversight, and societal moral imperative – so far too often it turns back the clock to real life loss of life and limb.
Maybe literature is far more enlightening. Have you looked at what passes for “sophisticated” reading these days?
Cormac McCarthy novels like “No Country for Old Men” revel in brutality that can even include cannibalism.
The highly popular Dragon Tatoo series is filled with sadistic rapes and other brutality (primarily toward women).
The most popular reading for younger (and older) women these days is Twilight where vampires are featured in teen love and full blood baths.
I think I’d rather watch some episodes of Grimm.
So… American Idol is horrible programming? Riiiiight. Everyone gets to dis-like things as a matter of taste (I particularly dis-like gore). But none of us should get high and mighty. After all, Survivor, Glee and Pawn Wars are far healthier for humanity than the vast majority of the video on the web.
And that means, never (EVER) try to tell me that “web entertainment is better”. 5 billion cat video’s. Kids nearly killing themselves. Horrible disaster filmed first hand. And people claim that web entertainment is healthier than 30-Rock, XFactor and The Daily Show?
Call me once you come down off your high horse. Until then I’m turning on the TV.
Copyright 2011 – Doug Garnett – All Rights Reserved
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