Friday, September 17, 2004

Has TV lost its moral direction?

This is one of those "pet peeves" types of entries ... the type I usually don't enjoy reading from others (well, I suppose that all depends on the tone involved, but there are times when it seems that when people write completely from the heat of emotion, things end up coming out in terms that are less than memorable). So, now that I have established to myself that I feel somewhat like a hypocrite, what's left to say (and the Catholics thought that they invented guilt and self deprecation! They have absolutely nothing on good, old-fashioned, Jewish guilt).

Lately, as I have been trying to work on various projects that have all been simmering for various amounts of time, the television has been on quite a bit - providing a background noise that is often easy to work with (I live fairly close to a major road, so if there isn't anything on the sounds of traffic can be quite annoying, and as I am often working on music, I cannot listen to the radio or any of my 400 plus CD's). So, what could possibly be worthy of "peeving" about in regards to what is on television? Well, first of all, why is it that no matter where I turn there seems to be yet another re-hashing of the "reality" TV concept? If it isn't the second season of The Apprentice, then its the latest sports-related effort, pitting a bunch of hyped-up knuckleheads against each other as they try to win a shot at the WBO Belt, courtesy of "The Champ", Chavez himself.

The scenarios are so contrived that it seems impossible that "real" people could actually be as stupid (perhaps that word is not so adequate ... ill-mannered and ignorant might better describe what is highlighted in these broadcasts) as they end up being portrayed on these shows ... and if they are, it really makes me wonder what people like Donald Trump are looking for when he goes to hire someone to "run" one of his companies. It would seem that the character of the individual is far less important to The Donald over elements such as their ability to back-stab, manipulate and allow their own bad characters to be hidden behind the lies that they make up about their "team members".

Yet if it isn't shows like that, there is always the newest kid on the block: The Benefactor. What would you do for $1,000,000, or so the question goes .... Well, I'll tell you what I'd do that I'm sure you won't see on this new show: I wouldn't subject myself to the arbitrary judgments of Mark Cuban. The only reason this man is on television is because he has the money, and has decided to "give" away $1 million dollars. Yet, I'm forced to ask myself why this "benefactor" has decided to focus his attentions on a group of young individuals. A "benefactor" is, by definition, one who "has given friendly aid, [a] patron or donor to a cause or charitable institution." Mark Cuban wants to show off to the world because he can afford to, yet he has chosen to select individuals who are not working in fields where the pursuit of the craft does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with great amounts of money. How many artists or composers could live for years and hone their craft if a real benefactor endowed them with the finances to pursue their work - without having to worry about working in some fast-food place because they haven't been able to sell a painting, or because it is nearly impossible to make a living as a composer.

Doesn't it seem far more likely that if Mark Cuban had to select individuals according to their talents there would be far less of a show to be seen? I can't begin to think of the number of talented individuals that I know who would truly benefit from this type of endowment, but instead, we are faced with a cast that looks - for the most part - out of the pages of Vogue and GQ (not that every one of the members is that way, but certainly more than the average seem to be in that vein).

How many times do these shows come on and it seems to be another parade of the "pretty people", with one or two "average" sorts thrown in for good measure. Even the first episode of the latest Survivor incarnation looks like a collection of cast-away models, with a few older individuals thrown in to add to the demographics.

Now, I've taken a look at these shows so it is easy for me to comment on them ... but there have been some other shows airing lately that I wouldn't watch if ... well, I suppose if Mark Cuban were making me a special offer. Shows about families swapping their mothers? What the hell is that supposed to be about (please note - this is a rhetorical question, and I really [REALLY] don't want to know!)? When I saw the ads for that show I was revolted by the whole concept: if two people are married and have children (even if they don't have children), why on earth would they consider "swapping" spouses with people they haven't even met (without getting into the issues regarding "swinging", which I gather is not what this show is about).

Yet, if that were the "worst" that I have (or haven't) seen, perhaps things wouldn't seem so hopeless ... but it just seems to go from bad to worse - if you look closely (just look, don't watch). As show after show seems to take any semblance of morality and sacrifice it for the sake of "ratings" and "entertainment value", we are presented with less and less that seems to be worth watching. Instead of the old saying about "must see TV", I am becoming more and more convinced that this is "must flee TV". The only way to escape these un-reality shows is to explore the true reality existing around us, and letting the "Idiot Box" become part of an energy saving venture.

Oh well ... enough of this, I suppose it's high time to return to the work at hand and get to some "serious" writing ..... more soon.

... and Speaking of Stupid People

Oh yes ... speaking of "reality", please pay attention to everything that is coming out of the mouths of the Republican Party's candidate for President of the United States: how stupid is this man? Does he ever get it right when he speaks, or is he counting on the collective short-term amnesia of America to re-elect him? Take this quote: "I am mindful of the difference between the executive branch and the legislative branch. I assured all four of these leaders that I know the difference, and that difference is they pass the laws and I execute them." George W. Bush, Dec. 20, 2000

How much do you have to study to understand that the "Executive" branch of the Federal government does not mean "execute", in regards to the enforcement of legislation? How can there be a President who is so lacking in basic knowledge that even we Canadian's are familiar with? It seems to me that GWB represents the sort of person that would be lauded as "worthy" of running a nation when everyone's attention is focused on the type of entertainment being shoveled out of the idiot boxes on an hourly basis. Bush is the embodiment of the "dumbed down" America that is taking the express route to the gutter, in all that it does.

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