May 12, 2008

Television Sins.


Although it has nurtured me for 39 years, and I dearly love my job as a promo producer, it's time to admit a brutal truth...

TV must die.

If only the TV that's in my house.

Why does TV suck? The thing is, television is kicking major ass right now. If you have a decent cable package, there are more killer programs to be found than there are hours in which to watch them. Remember, there was a time when Happy Days was probably the best thing on TV.

The problem is... TV literally sucks. It sucks us into its maw every night, through the technological glory that is cable, TiVo and DVD. And if you have Blu-Ray, you've just cranked the suction to Debbie Does Dallas. There is chrome coming off a trailer-hitch somewhere.

So if the programming is fine, what is the problem? I don't know... might be the drones sitting on their ever-widening asses in front of it. We blame TV for our being fat and our kids being mouthy and inattentive. Won't somebody tell us what to do?

Someone - I can't remember who - once inflicted favoured the world with his Ten Commandments of Television. They're listed below.

The first thing you'll notice is that they really aren't commandments at all. They're more like beatitudes - blessed are the geeks, blessed are the news-makers, etc... It makes you glad the author's first name wasn't Jesus, otherwise we'd have the "Sermon on the Dish".

To be fair, a couple of these "commandments" are worth chewing on, but - like the original Decalogue - many are redundant, anachronistic, and redundant.

With apologies to copyright:
  1. Television is the triumph of the image over the printed word.
  2. Print created illiteracy. Television is democratic, everybody gets it.
  3. The true nature of television is flow, not show. Process, not conclusion.
  4. As worldwide television expands, the demand for local programming increases.
  5. The best TV tells me what happened to me, today.
  6. TV is as much about the people bringing you the story as the story itself.
  7. In the past, TV’s chief operating skill was political. In the future it will be – it will have to be, mastery of the craft itself.
  8. TV creates immediate consensus, subject to immediate change.
  9. There never was a mass audience, except by compulsion.
  10. Television is not a problem to be managed, but an instrument to be played.
A little cryptic and somewhat - how do I put this delicately - full of shit. (There's also that nagging sense that someone was sitting in front of his typewriter for a very long time, nursing a bottle of Louis XIII and trying to coax the list into an "even ten".)

So let's grab a pair, and demand some action from up here on Mount Sinai. We may not be able to change much, but we can always start with the minutia - real commandments to the people on TV and to those of us who waste our lives watching them:
  1. TV-children shalt not wear Halloween costumes that cost $900.
  2. Thou shalt stop using an answering machine with a cassette tape. That is an abomination.
  3. Thou shalt always remember thy Miranda rights and note that they are not applicable in Canada.
  4. TV-women shalt not go into labour in a way that is completely unexpected and totally debilitating.
  5. Thou shalt have no TVs before thy children, lest thou need to seriously clean thine house.
  6. Thou shalt not pester me to start watching thy show, even if thy show is The Wire.
  7. Remember thine Hockey Night in Canada, and keep it holy.
  8. Thou shalt not pirate thy cable, lest thou shalt get me in on some HBO.
  9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's 52" Aquos HD1080.
  10. Honour thy father and mother by admitting that they let you watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island well after thy bedtime.
Note: Unlike either Moses, I want to hear your commandments, too.