Prologue: The start of the new year marks the beginning of year three of my exploration of American television. As many long time readers have noted lately, The Transcendence Diaries never talked about television in all the years it’s been running. Thousands of pages and a full decade into this experiment, not one television show was ever mentioned until recently. That’s because for the longest time I didn’t subscribe to nor watch television. I spent most of my life that way. As a child we were completely cut off from that aspect of popular culture simply because our parents didn’t allow us to watch TV. They deemed it mentally and emotionally harmful. We of course being children disagreed with them vehemently. We just wanted to belong.
As I transitioned to adulthood I watched the occasional TV show when visiting friends houses, but in the music business, you really never have the kind of lifestyle where you can afford the time it takes to watch TV. You’re always traveling, and on those rare occasions when you’re not on the road, you live more of a vampire existence — out all night and asleep most of the day, one that does not lend itself to keeping up with the latest hit TV show. Besides all that, truth be told, I always found television to be the last thing in the world that interested me. I was a snob, I humbly admit it, and found television of almost any kind to be predictable, inane, boring and pedestrian. To be brutally honest, I found it insulting that people took the time or money to create such putrid dreck and expected other people to consume it. So no, TV was just not my thing.
Movies on the other hand were. An avid film buff, I gained access to movies through a seriously expensive Netflix and Amazon.com habit. Eventually two things transpired though that led to this more recent foray into the sodden world of American television, and since I’ve received more than a fair share of communications from readers about this strange twist lately, I thought I’d take a moment to address the reasons for this switch so people don’t think I’ve lost my edge or gone off the deep end.
Number one, it is possible — if one is determined and persistent enough in the pursuit — to watch literally every good to great film ever released in a variety of different languages; it just takes time and discipline. You reach a point where there is simply nothing left to buy or rent that you haven’t already seen a few times. I reached that point several years ago. Not only had I purchased all the great films worth owning — both fictional movies and documentaries, concerts and bios, old and new, color and black and white — in order to build a most enviable library to share with my children as they grow if I should be so lucky as to have some one day, but I discovered that eventually you can also reach a point where every film you ever clicked to place in your Netflix queue has been shipped to you and returned already. Granted we are speaking strictly of only movies that interested “me”. I am sure there are plenty of horror movies, vampire thrillers, zombie apocalypse tales and buddy-cop flicks that never made their way into my viewing room and hopefully never will.
Number two, as many know, I began working on a rather large project to write a non-fiction sociology book entitled We Are the Revolution — Life in the Personal Expression Age a few years back and felt that I needed to explore TV to it’s fullest in order to fairly and fully explore this new age we’ve found ourselves in. After all, one of the Signatures of the age that I predicted was on its way was “The Great American Television Renaissance”. I foresaw that with the Indie Revolution and technology boom colliding and working together, American television was about to begin a new golden age where it would become so good that it would be nearly indistinguishable from Hollywood movies, even good ones. I was right. To a degree at least. Mainstream media is now calling it “the new or third golden age of TV”… something to that effect.
More importantly I have been able to witness it firsthand, taking notes and cataloguing it along the way. At first I tried to accomplish this feat by simply renting DVDs of all the television shows that I thought were important through Netflix. True story. I must have watched hundreds of hours of television that way. Eventually I caved in and realized that if I was really going to take the leap and explore this aspect of our society completely that I would need to subscribe to TV full on, as in get cable. And so I did. We’ve now got the full gamut. All 1000 channels or more. It’s entirely overwhelming. And yet frustratingly underwhelming as well. All depending on the filter you have on when watching.
I must say that it hasn’t been easy. Television is both a gift and a curse, wicked and wonderful all at the same time. On the one hand I heartily appreciate the comfort and companionship it provides to those who aren’t as fortunate as some of us are financially or socially or even in regards to having good health. Many a good person falls asleep every night with the TV on for no other reason than they are ill and bed-ridden or simply lonely. I get that. I respect it. I also understand that in a country as large as the United States is, television has a tremendous bonding capacity. It makes it possible for just about anyone, no matter how isolated or remote they may live from a metropolitan area to feel connected with and stay in touch with the rest of the country; with the rest of the world really. This is an important contribution to be sure. Though one might add that the internet can now just as readily fulfill that purpose, and do so without an endless stream of advertisements or that most unfortunate circumstance where one is trapped in front of the box filled with hundreds of channels and still find absolutely nothing to watch that interests them.
(I myself have a tough time with advertisements on television and so I almost exclusively only watch shows that have been DVR’d. I don’t think this project would have been possible had the DVR not yet been invented.) Because my venturing into the world of television was not for entertainment but for research I never found myself in the aforementioned predicament of “not being able to find anything to watch”. I’ve felt it countless times of course, but every time I find myself thinking that, I remind myself that this is research after all. If it’s occasionally enjoyable, all the better. But if it’s not, so what: the important thing is to soak it all in and to learn. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
I started this exploration approximately two years ago. So no, I do not remember the shows Desperate Housewives or Friends or 24, nor am I am able to recall the early formative years of American Idol that everyone refers to so lovingly. These were all before my time. But I have been able to catch up on certain things deemed important enough through Netflix such as Lost for instance. And as I’ve already mentioned in prior posts I enjoyed that show in particular immensely. Now I find myself in a rather strange place. Half in, half out. Television as it turns out can be extremely addictive. One can find oneself watching when one doesn’t even necessarily want to. It is easy to become quasi-addicted to TV. To keeping up with things. To having that extra energy in the room. It’s an illusion of course. Those people are real, but they aren’t there in the room with you. They aren’t even doing what they’re doing live, there in the moment, as you’re watching. They only pretend they are. And we in turn pretend along with them. It’s a drug like any other that as a society en masse we’ve allowed ourselves to become slowly but entirely addicted to and dependent on.
I would be lying if I claimed that I haven’t enjoyed this part of the book writing process. Because I have. Almost too much I believe. Much of it has been very enjoyable. On the other hand much of it has been thoroughly dreadful and painful, as many would guess. Most television, as I remembered from the few times I attempted to watch it in the past, is indeed inane, pedestrian, boring, predictable and insulting to anyone with half a brain. Though on occasion you can find some things that transcend the format and are just flat out better than good. Downton Abbey comes to mind; as do many shows that PBS tends to air. So too does Homeland. Though the latter’s third season suffered so badly from poor writing that it became unbearable to get through for me personally. And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with television. Unlike good film, where they limit the length of the work to the exact time needed to tell the story and no more or less, television works in the exact opposite way: the story is dictated by how long the series stays on the air — as in how many dollars can they squeeze out of it as a commodity. This invariably always suffers the quality of the work itself. After a season or two, when the story is long overdue for a proper ending, the writers are still desperately trying to suck more blood out of the lifeless carcass that’s still left behind. The audience hangs on because they’ve become accustomed to it, fond of it, seduced by the original thrill once had but long forgotten, much like other drugs, and slowly — like a marriage gone sour — both writer and audience writhe in agony as each new season drags on until eventually both show and audience whither away and shrivel up and die.
Think Pretty Little Liars. Those supposed high school girls are old enough to be grandmothers at this point and no one in their right mind gives two shits who “A” is anymore. The same can be said for Revolution — they’re going to drag that poor wretched beast out so long that most viewers will be dead by the time the producers of the show suck all the cash out of it that they can and end the story; which is too bad, because that show had at one point at least a degree of merit and potential. But again, money is taking precedence over quality still in this medium, so the storyline just drags on indefinitely rather than ending when it naturally should. The same goes for the aforementioned Homeland starting with season 3. It’s alarming, and I’d say disturbing even, to ponder that the creators and writers of this show are contemplating bringing “Brody” back from the dead in season 4. And yet everyone knows that’s precisely what they intend to do. It’s a truly shameless craft, to work for American television. All because of this wretched time-dictate phenomenon.
Of course, there is an easy fix. Just as filmmakers do, the creators and writers of TV could, if they really wanted to go the way of art rather than commerce, just change the storyline as often as needed — adding and/or deleting characters as needed — and frame the whole television show around a good story, RATHER than around how much time they need to fill up with a full season, and then another, and then another, and another, etc. In other words, once the story has run its course, they could END it, regardless of how many more episodes they have left. They could always keep the same cast of characters but just create a different story for them to be involved in. This would make television much more intelligent and much less inane and insulting.
Now that I’ve made mention of this fix, we can only hope that it turns into the new trend at some point in the near future. That’s how it usually works. I’ll mention it here; a few weeks to months later we see it transpire. [Remember, it was less than a year ago that I suggested creators and networks shoot and air whole seasons of shows at once so audiences could watch them all in one or two sittings IF they so choose to. See the post entitled Observations Re Modern Television – Fixes (1) from March 13, 2013. Within a few months, Netflix did just that with Arrested Development and then House of Cards and “binge watching” became the new buzz word of the season. So before we go writing in that yours truly is pipe-dreaming, let’s give this new idea some time, eh? I bet it’s only a matter of time now that it’s been mentioned here.
[This brings up an interesting side-thought — a truly fascinating paradigm that’s a bit off-topic but one that I’d say is very intriguing, if not way more intriguing than what this post was originally about. Check it. What exactly happened there? In the above scenario? I suggested something new, never been done before; and a few months later we see it transpire. Deductively, from what I can tell after thinking about this strange phenomenon for decades now, we’ve got three or four primary choices from which to conclude. #1, I created the idea and someone read about it, liked the idea and put it into action. i.e. I was the inventor of said event. #2, I predicted the advent of the idea before it transpired. i.e. I am psychic, or more accurately put, am more tuned into my “Intuitive Mode of Consciousness” than the average person. (more on that later). #3, I am simply highly tuned in to the subject and/or the culture it exists in and could feel or induce the coming of said event through either logical induction or intuition or a combination of both. This falls into the “hundredth monkey” paradigm to a certain degree. A little something I call “If you’re thinking it, so too are a thousand other people”. i.e. knowing a subject very well and all of the data associated with a subject allows us to be able to accurately predict coming events and trends more readily than the average person simply because we are so tuned into that particular data collection. We aren’t necessarily “predicting” something psychicly (though this could just be semantics) as much as being able to induce coming trends…. #4, none of the above. It was pure coincidence. #5, a combination of all of the above.
Without making too much of this post about this phenomenon — I believe it deserves one for sure — what I personally believe is that each time this phenomenon occurs, one has to analyze the events surrounding it in order to be able to ascertain which one of the five conclusions above were at play. There’s not just ONE singular reason for this seemingly miraculous turn of events. #1, Are television executives frantically scouring the Transcendence Diaries to look for ideas from yours truly and as soon as I suggested they air full seasons of shows so viewers could watch them all at once, they decided to do just that because I have just that much influence? I doubt it. In fact I doubt that they or anyone else except for loyal readers for that matter even knew I had suggested this new format for airing television shows. So no, I don’t believe I invented the idea and someone stole it.
#2, While it is true that for the last twenty or so years those closest to me have noticed an uncanny ability to be able to see things that are going to happen in the future — so much so that friends and family call me to ask “Hey, what are you seeing happen if I should do this_____?” — 99% of the time I am NOT in control of this ability. I “feel” and “see” the visions of said coming events randomly. Or I might just be writing or thinking about a subject or person and make note of something that IS going to happen or SHOULD happen, and then it does. This is certainly not psychicism in the classic scientific sense. Because I can’t turn it on or off at will. It’s completely random. Most of the time, when I do try to do it deliberately I do so with devastatingly erroneous results. So I tend to dismiss the “psychic” conclusion.
To me the most logical conclusion is #3. When we tap into a subject deeply and study it, all the data in and around it, we are more capable of being able to induce various different events that may potentially transpire in what we label “the future” in this particular field — simply because we are so tuned into this topic of study, or field of thought. It’s really just a matter of inductive reasoning. And feel. And intuition. The hundredth monkey effect at play. Chances are there were probably a thousand other people around the same time thinking and proposing the same thing. Why? Because it was the next logical step or transition in the field of television broadcasting. I just happened to make note of it before it happened because I was so deeply entrenched in studying it.
To be clear, I do not believe that this negates the potential for “psychic” or telekinetic abilities in others, nor even in myself. I’m only speaking about this one particular event, and a few others like it. I believe that the more we study and dig into something, the more “tuned into it” we become, i.e. the more tapped in our Intuitive Mode of Consciousness gets into this subject and the easier it is for us to access it with our regular day to day consciousness. *[The idea of the Intuitive Mode of Consciousness, at least the label itself as I am using it here, comes from the work of Harry Palmer and his work in the Avatar materials.] This to me does not preclude our ability to be psychic or telekinetic. Some people are highly gifted in this capacity. But there is I believe a more logical conclusion to this phenomenon and a lot of it has to do with how much we know about a subject. The more we learn about a subject, the more we soak into it, the easier it becomes to see what’s coming next.
We can become quite good at this ability by simply knowing this fact. If we want to know what happens next, simply study the subject at hand as much as possible. A combination of logic and intuition will increase our ability to see what happens next immensely. There is more to this, a lot more. This is definitely a subject we should explore more in future posts.]
The full exploration and conclusions of our little experiment in the world of television are in the book mentioned above. That wasn’t the original intent of this post. I apologize. I got carried away. Evidently even I am not immune to getting sucked into the crazy seductive world of television. So be it. It’s a good point made though.
Last week I decided to tune into a fairly new show called The Following to see what all the fuss was about. One of the aspects of the Signature of “The Great American Television Renaissance” is that better than good film actors, writers and producers would eventually succumb to working for television — unlike even five to ten years ago where television was considered the land where talentless hacks go to die. But this trend was easy to see coming due to a variety of factors. The full reasons and ramifications are discussed in the book. It’s easy work, TV, compared to movie making. Nearly a nine to five job if you force their hand. And one that you can do from the comfort of your own hometown so you can stay close to family — without the itinerate traveling and being on location as is often required when making a movie. And if they only made the money being offered tantalizing enough, so the theory went, they could easily start seducing B movie stars into doing it first, and eventually A-listers would soon follow. We’ve seen this start to play out over the last few years. I first intuitively perceived this coming trend, began taking notes on it and named it in 2005. It took a while to transpire. But in full swing now.
The ubiquitous Kevin Bacon, who’s been in literally every movie that’s ever come out of Hollywood since the early nineteen-eighties eventually succumbed in The Following. So I decided to check it out, see what the big pull was. FOX is known for pulling many a rabbit out of its hat. Most extremely lame, deformed, mutated beyond recognition. Some nearly decent, edible, if rabbit’s your thing. And a select few occasionally quite tasty.
Uh… Okay… Wow… Not sure WHAT kind of response the creators of this show were looking for, but that about sums it up. If there ever was just one, The Following could potentially hold the honor of being the perfect illustration of just how numb depraved and insane modern American society has become through the years. It’s plot and storyline are completely over the top, repetitive, irrelevant and unbelievable of course; that was expected; but gratuitous violence and gore and shock scenes abound, a technique usually reserved for cheap Hollywood D grade horror movies. It’s a twisted little world that’s created in this shock and schlock fest, filled with blood, gore, stabbing scenes, dismembered body parts… all the while the characters act as if it’s just another day in paradise. There are absolutely no redeeming qualities to this show except perhaps as a study of how depraved a society can become: on the one hand the society publicly questions why mass murders and killing sprees transpire on a regular basis in real life and on the other hand it simultaneously creates these kinds of television shows as entertainment. What the society claims to dread, resist and fear the most, it simultaneously gorges on as entertainment. It’s a fascinating dichotomy. But also a bit sickening and frightening.
For the last ten to fifteen years American television broadcasters have been in a competition with one another to see who can create and air the most shocking, taboo and controversial material and get away with it. It wasn’t always this way. A thorough study of the history of American television since the 1950s will reveal that there has always been a healthy competition between networks. Which is a good thing for everyone to be sure. But somewhere down the road an invisible line was crossed. In the 1970s there began a now-seemingly tame competition between the big three American television networks fighting for the top spot in shocking the American public with controversial subjects that were considered too taboo for such a public medium like television. Single motherhood, divorce, black and Hispanic comedies, racism and racial slurs, mixed marriages, all were on the table to be offered up for free to see just how much reality the viewing public was willing to digest.
For the most part the intentions seemed noble. Television producers were trying to push the envelope of how much reality could be accepted in society’s entertainment. All they were attempting to do was replicate current events on TV — to more honestly mirror real life in order to more honestly explore it. Before that era, American television was pure fantasy. A utopian dream of what life “could be like if everything were perfect”. To many, this may have been a pleasurable panacea in the moment, but it also served as a constant reminder of just how imperfect our real lives were. In the nineteen-seventies all that changed. Throughout the next twenty years, television continued to push these boundaries, attempting to reveal more and more reality on TV. Many credit the popular comedy Will and Grace with helping to make being “gay” more acceptable in real life society. It would be more difficult to thoroughly “hate” gay people if you were tuning in to laugh at and with a gay person once a week. Perhaps they weren’t as scary as people made them out to be. Or so the argument goes. For all intents and purposes it seemed to work.
Needless to say the advent of what we call cable television — or anything other than the Big Four networks, CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX — was and still is the main impetus for the ongoing trend towards a new style of television: starting with real life, then leaving it behind and stretching it out beyond peoples’ wildest fantasies. The show that comes to mind more than any other is The Sopranos, though which show started it all is not the point here. Let TV executives and savants argue that one out. But HBO’s The Sopranos took violence and vulgarity on television to a whole new level never seen before. Sex too. Pretty soon people were tuning in to watch the show not because it was “good” but more to see just “how far out” the writers would go in their quest to push past society’s boundaries of acceptability. By the time the show had reached it’s final season, tens of other shows started cropping up on HBO and other networks to compete with it in this category of pure shock value. Drug addicted doctors, mobsters, serial killers, murdering vampires and zombies, weed selling single moms, meth peddling dads just trying to earn a living to support their family, pregnant teens, womanizing drunkards… this is what the new American television protagonist started looking like.
And thus began the new phase of American television: not to mirror real life, but to stretch it beyond recognition as fantasy.
In my quest to fully absorb and explore modern American television, I succumbed to just about every show that any half-assed idiot raised enough money to get on the air just to be able to get the whole picture. I attempted to watch the show Girls once two years back, and found myself so disgusted and disturbed by the thought that this could potentially represent what modern American girls in their early twenties are like that I actually found myself crying. Just sitting there on the couch tearing up and sobbing. It’s one thing to push the envelope. It’s another thing to indoctrinate young people into believing that drug and booze binging, casual sex, loose or no morals, and trailer-park vulgarity were all perfectly acceptable as long as you could afford the latest fashion trends and you got on TV. Which is exactly what this and countless other shows seemed to be doing. My reaction was beyond shock. It was downright disgust and then sadness.
The word “fuck” — not only as an expletive but also as a verb, as in “to copulate or to have sex” — is used so regularly and casually by characters (who we are supposed to identify with in some way) that an outsider would justifiably assume that that’s how regular everyday people in our society speak. “Oh first you fuck me and then you go and fuck her Tony?!?!” As if that’s how the average American female speaks on a regular basis, which for the most part, thank God, they don’t. We don’t. When’s the last time you heard someone use the word “fuck” when speaking about making love or having sex in real life? Certainly more common now than ever before; but certainly not something that has been considered the norm in our day to day lives.
There was a time, in the not too distant past, when that kind of language would be found utterly shocking in the real world except perhaps for the most lowly types of individuals. And to be sure that still applies to most of us. But for how long? Television has always served as both a reflection of our reality and an influencer and harbinger of it, of things to come. “Fuck” has always been a fun word to use on occasion. A colorful way to decorate an otherwise lackluster sentence or sentiment. But we’ve always known — we’re even taught this in writing courses at university — that it’s the easy way out, a device of the amateur.breaking enough, the characters not badass or tough enough. Now it’s every other word, de rigeur for every character on TV. No longer shocking, but boring and predictable. Have a seat and try to watch a whole episode of Veep or House of Lies. You’ll hear more “fucks” in 30 minutes than you’d hear in a year of Tourette’s Syndrome Anonymous meetings.
But all the while, people are watching… How much are they being influenced? That’s the question that arises again and again.
But it doesn’t stop there. The word “fuck” is the least of our problems at this point. Sex blood guts gore vulgarity abortion adultery murder stabbings gunshots to the heads eye-gouging rape the mafia and criminals as heroes… you name it and you can find it on a television near you. A friend on Facebook once commented a year or so back, “I don’t mind being forced to watch Girls if it makes my wife happy for an hour. But I refuse to stare at Lena Dunham’s fat naked ass while she’s being banged from behind for ten minutes.” And that pretty much sums it up. Who in their not-right mind decided it was a good idea to start showing doggy-style sex on TV? And worse, who in their right mind watches it or enjoys watching it? But let’s not blame it on poor Lena Dunham. Innovative she’s not. She’s just a child of the generation that came before. I can distinctly remember being equally horrified when binge-studying the just as vile Sex and the City I had to sit through a ten minute conversation where all four actresses pretended that talking about “anal sex and giving blowjobs” over lunch was the normal conversation of choice for middle class Manhattan females. When we all know it’s NOT. But again, the show’s creators are just trying to bang extra dollars out of the piggy banks of hapless American consumers through shocking them. What is it about being shocked that makes American consumers feel special? That’s another valid question.
What many don’t seem to understand is that a good story doesn’t need to be shocking, nor controversial. Nor does shock or controversy equal a good story. What’s to explain the popularity of and adulation around Downton Abbey over the last three years? But this point seems lost on most television executives.
In a few decades we have created a world where absolutely nothing is off limits or taboo for television. The Real Housewives, Honey Boo Boo or any other number of shows proves this. Rape murder animal cruelty take your pick. Sure the clean-cut, smiling faces will be on the TV first thing in the morning on their best behavior, dyed-white teeth sparkling into the camera, acting as if everything is just fine and dandy in Pleasantville. But tune into the same channel 12 hours later and you can gleefully watch a man poke a woman’s eyes out while she screams bloody murder or a group of young teens having a threesome. And if you want to they’ll even look directly into the camera and talk to you while doing it, which is the current “cool technique” of today’s television factory.
If we are to believe that television is the least bit reflective of real life, some of the most cherished and sought after ideals of our society have been slowly shoved under the bed over time and replaced with a new kind of identity. Nobility, once highly sought after and admired, is now clouded by darker themes such as vengeance ruthlessness power for power’s sake and greed. “The end never justify the means” is an archaic novelty, cute and nostalgic, reserved for coffee mugs and keychains; now replaced by older more primitive notions such as “do whatever it takes to succeed” or “only the strong survive”. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to ascertain precisely what nobility or respectability mean in today’s “modern” times as represented by television. Our hard fought evolution to a more graceful and elegant, kinder and gentler people appears to be eroding if we are to believe that our favorite television shows reflect who we are as a society.
To say we’ve lost touch with our core values would be understating the obvious. Fundamental deception and blatant manipulation is an accepted norm. So too are hidden agendas. So too has rampant vacuous sexuality, gratuitous violence and gore, using sex as a tool or a weapon either to garner attention (in the absence of something valuable) or to bribe manipulate or blackmail. Our very basic nobility has been eviscerated; in its place has arisen new ideals: ambition fame attention power greed winning. Remember the Charlie Sheen fiasco? Talk about an ironic dichotomy. Thousands of hapless masses cheering on a jacked up drug addict and womanizer as he incoherently rambles on and on about “winning” some irrelevant battle he’s having with his “greedy Jew bosses at the network” over how much money he makes for a TV show that no one actually watched anymore. What exactly is “winning” now in American society? How can we even organize the data to craft a definition given the blatant contradictions between what we see pretended as winning versus what we know it really to be, at least in a traditional sense? If one were young enough to NOT remember the traditional definitions of concepts such as winning, nobility, respectability, decency, it would be easy to see how they could be completely confused as to what these ideals really mean if all they see representing them are people like The Kardashians, Paris Hiton, Kanye West, Miley Cirus or Ray Donovan. I don’t envy the younger generation coming of age in today’s world.
On the one hand we have shows like 60 Minutes and Frontline or even Anderson Cooper revealing the latest scandals and corruptions of the day by the lowliest criminals in society who then get in trouble for their actions, and an hour later we have shows like Scandal, The Good Wives, and Ray Donovan glorifying these same types of individuals and their corruptions as if it’s an honorable thing to be a part of. That’s one confusing bag of mixed messages. The fear is that we are on the brink of becoming immune to what we euphemistically label “white collar crime”: lying, cheating, embezzlement, blackmail, bribery, grand larceny… and a political system that is run and controlled by these very things. We deceptively refer to it as “lobbying” or “political campaign financing”. Since we are old enough to speak we are taught that our elected officials make laws based on trading votes for favors and vice versa, again cleverly disguised by the moniker “pork barrel spending” so no one really understands what’s being discussed. We see it parodied or theatrically played out on television in shows like Veep or House of Cards or House of Lies. And we don’t even blink at the thought that this may in fact be our reality.
Nope. In fact we choose instead to allow others among us to use these shameful weaknesses in our character as entertainment, akin to allowing someone to murder your family right before your eyes and then broadcast it as a reality TV show. (We can be sure that’s not too far away at this point. I’d say give it a year…) Unfortunately we see far too similar events as those in fictional TV dramas play out in real life on CNN and CSPAN on a near daily basis, which only further blurs the line between what is real and what is creative writing. So it could all be satire, or dramatization, or not. At this point we don’t know. Turning our considerable problems with our government in what is known as the greatest democratic republic on earth into entertainment not only minimizes the importance of the real problems that we face as a society, but it satirizes us, as a people, and our very core values, as we ignore the problems and continue to pretend that everything is fine; the irony of it screams in our faces “DO SOMETHING YOU IDIOTS” while we sit back and binge-watch it play out right before our eyes pretending it means nothing, that in the end it’s only a story…
Last night while taking notes for this post, the thought occurred to me that it’s time to not only stop with this experiment of exploring American television but that I should even go one step further and unsubscribe from all television in both our homes and start a movement to encourage others to do the same thing, just get rid of all TV completely except as a vehicle to watch movies on. Precisely because I wholeheartedly believe in the main message of this post, television IS in my opinion a major reason for the decay of the moral fabric of our society and the only way it’ll ever stop is if people en masse start boycotting it to send a message to executives and broadcasters.
The next two thoughts that occurred to me were this: one, there are certain aspects of television that I really get a lot out of. News and especially financial news networks, CNBC, CSPAN, PBS and certain guilty pleasures on the so-called premium channels. Two, there’s no way that anyone will be able to talk even a small minority of Americans into doing away with their TV, so it’s an effort that would prove fruitless; not worth the time or energy I would expend. I’d basically being chasing rainbows. No one’s going to do it.
This morning upon awakening, I was surfing Facebook over my first macchiato and lo and behold what do I see? A post by a colleague in the music business who lives in Utah — she works in radio promotion — saying that she just got rid of their whole house’s cable subscription entirely because she “doesn’t approve of the content of TV today, it’s too vulgar and violent, and she doesn’t want her or her spouse or her children digesting that kind of garbage on a regular basis.” I must admit I was quite surprised. Talk about synchronicity or being psychic or tapping into intuition… I hadn’t even posted this yet. So it wasn’t about me. More a sign that I was onto something. She’s onto something. Perhaps I’m not the only person thinking about doing this. Not just doing it ourselves for the betterment of our mental and emotional health, but taking it on as a cause. After all, this may have been a random coincidence, but I just bet that if we two are thinking about it, so are plenty of others.
Sure enough, our good friend Zeke Zaskin — yes the audio engineer who’s mixed and mastered the last nine Transcendence albums, said that they just did the SAME thing in their home, for the same reasons, and that there’s a simple solution to being able to access only the content that one desires and still not have to subscribe to cable: He states the solution is getting a digital antenna, a Roku box and the PlayOn app. In fact he even posted a link that explains how to do it. You can get rid of cable completely AND still access the big four networks and any other networks you want to IF you want to. Here’s the link: http://removeandreplace.com/…/cancel-your-cable-and…/
So it turns out it IS possible to get rid of cable completely and still have access to only the shows and networks that we desire. This would afford us all a good opportunity to be able to send a message to the television networks and the executives that control them. One giant boycott is all we’d need by even a small minority would gather a lot of attention. I for one am ready to do something.