09. December 2004 · Comments Off on Memo: Tired of the TV Same-Old, Same-Old · Categories: Media Matters Not

To: Those Providing Our TV Entertainment Content
From: Sgt Mom
RE: Why Your Audience Is Slipping Away

1. Recent remarks from insiders in the entertainment industry just confirm my long-held suspicion that large chunks of the American audience are held in contempt by those who are rewarded generously by the American entertainment machine; a contempt which I suspect is only equaled by their absolute ignorance of the world outside the nice bicoastal media wonderland. “Throw the rubes another ration of crap,” seems to be what they are saying privately in the corridors of media power, “Derivative, warmed over, cliché ed and shop-worn krep, the same old lame concepts, plastic people and hackneyed plots, garnished with gunfire and laugh-tracks… they’re too stupid to appreciate anything better.”

2. I have watched TV on a somewhat erratic basis for… um… over four decades, now, going from a TV-less household as a child, to working as a military broadcaster, from no TV to having friends record stuff for me, from cable to the basic local channels, so this has not been a solid and consistent TV-watching four decades. But I have seen enough to know that I have seen enough. The good stuff shines like an occasional rare beacon in the sea of krep, and I embrace it happily, and watch it on tape or DVD over and over, but the rest of it can be dropped into the Marianas Trench for all I care.

3. A lot of TV is worse than a vast wasteland, now— it is a swamp of toxic sludge, recycled every season, over and over. One feels stupider, and coarsened for having watched much of it one time around. Seeing the same old, same old come around, yet again— for how much longer can the same old leftovers be served up again, and made to look entertaining?

4. For one, I am tired of laugh-tracks on sitcoms… If it is funny, I will laugh. A gale of recorded laughter will not revive a desperately un-funny line, and will not make a televised sows’ ear into an Oscar Wilde silk purse.

5. I am quite thoroughly sick of shows about doctors, criminal lawyers, and police officers, and all the many permutations. Yes they do interesting work, and any of these professions afford an easy excuse to be involved in other people’s lives and problems, but for the love of mike, aren’t there any other interesting jobs out there? Even shows about reporters, lifeguards and firefighters haven’t been beaten into the ground nearly as much as the big three. There have been occasional shows about truck drivers, the staff at radio and TV stations, the inhabitants of small towns, the military, and farm families, amongst others, so we know that you are capable of moving beyond law, crime and medicine.

6. Cease and desist immediately from painting children and teenagers as wiser, more tolerant, more worldly and cooler than their chuckleheaded parents. Get over the Sixties, already. If we need to have our parental authority undermined, that’s what our children’s disreputable and idiotic friends are for.

7. Please try and get out of Southern California, and New York City. While they are interesting places, where live many people who wouldn’t consider living anywhere else, there exist great swaths of the United States which are just as scenic, and have just as much to offer. I don’t just mean zipping in for a couple of days to shoot exterior scenes before scuttling back to a sound stage in Burbank, but actually staying around long enough to get a sense of place. The only damned thing on TV that even comes with in a mile of reflecting where I live….is a freaking animated feature!!!

8. I wouldn’t go so far as to demand that you cast actors who look like normal regular people in everything, but casting a size-0 stick-insect-with-tits girly-girl, or a male-girly-girl underwear model as a character doing a job which in the real world may require physical presence, upper-body strength, and the ability to handle heavy objects will blow a lot of your credibility… even before the stick insect or the underwear model open their mouths.

9. Please remember that most of the world knows Americans only through the medium of movies and television, and if what is reflected there is so distorted that us Americans barely recognize ourselves, what must the inhabitants of Uhlan-Bator or Zambia think? Thanks so much for picturing so many of us as violent, vulgar, amoral barbarians.

10. I am trying to remember when I last bought something I saw advertised on television. Nothing comes to mind, but then I am down to watching only a dozen hours or so a week, and much of that is recorded… and my VCR skips through the commercials.

Sgt Mom

Comments closed.