Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Enough is enough...
I’ve decided to stop watching television. Last evening, while stretched out on the couch with my feet resting on the ottoman, it occurred to me that even though the volume was adequate for me to hear the dialogue clearly, I felt like a dog watching a magician perform a card trick— I was mesmerized by the movements, but I had no idea what the words meant. I just kept hoping that someone would throw me a biscuit or whistle for me and open the back door so I can walk outside and take a leak.
Be they dramas or situation comedies, the ‘stories’ are a series of six-minute segments, each a story within a story that stops immediately before the climax, designed to tweak the audience’s admittedly declining attention span long enough to keep their fingers off the remote buttons. The message is clear: ‘Don’t change that channel or you’ll miss Misty’s confession to Chad that she’s having Brett’s baby’. I’m convinced that the Nielson people now monitor not only the shows that are most often being watched, but also the commercials. Since producers can’t serve two masters, the advertisers win, the viewing public loses and the story becomes mere filler to support the plentiful two-minute commercials.
Even sporting events are affected, with ‘tv-timeouts’ and other orchestrated game stoppages designed to allow Budweiser to sell us some more beer. God forbid that a player gets hurt bad enough to require a cart to haul him off the field, because there’d be time for an entire infomercial endorsing the benefits of colonic irrigation or no-money-down real estate investment. By the time the game resumes, I’ve either now forgotten or no longer care what teams are playing, much less the outcome.
So, you lost me, Madison Avenue. I know you don’t care because there are millions to replace me, but they’re not stupid either, they just have a higher pain threshold. Eventually, they’ll quit you, too, and then you’ll have to find another way to gouge us.