Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

The idiot box

How much TV do you watch? If you are like me, you are watching less and less. It seems to get less appealing every month, let alone each year. I’m sure eventually my TV will be used for DVDs, and maybe the news.

One of the TV progs in the UK that is supposedly for grown up, intelligent people who want to know what’s going on in the world is Newsnight. It’s a lateish-night politics and current affairs program. The last time I saw it, they were doing an item on the upcoming voting reform referendum, and whether or not it would cause a split in our governing coalition. How did they present this serious and deep issue?

By an animated cartoon showing the two leaders as john travolta and olivia newton john, and playing the music from grease. Oh, granted, there may have been a few minor nuggets of actual commentary about the topic, using short words and visual aids, but I still felt like it was aimed at the 4-8 year old market, who should definitely be in bed at that time.

British TV is increasingly embracing it’s role as ‘the idiot box’. Not only are a lot of the subjects covered by TV purely for bored idiots, but even the stuff that you would think was serious, or needed in depth coverage is treated as some sort of lame comedy routine. Maybe some clever TV analysts have discovered that everyone with college education or higher just doesn’t watch it anymore, so they just cater to the lowest common denominator? Silly visual gimmicks seem to assume that the entire audience has attention defecit disorder.

Maybe I’m weird, but I can cope with watching someone sitting still, talking to camera for ten minutes in a normal voice about something that is really interesting. When I read a book, the book doesn’t have little animations, or cartoons, or wave its arms about wildly every sentence to keep my attention. Books can’t do that, so they compete merely by having good content. It really doesn’t matter how much you wiggle your head and wave your arms as you talk, if you have nothing to say, nobody cares. We get closer to this mitchell and webb parody every day…

14 thoughts on The idiot box

  1. I agree, I’ve not owned a TV for about 3 years now. Any shows I do watch, I download – I much prefer moving pictures as a pull medium than a push one.

  2. Same here, Portuguese TV is the same crap, I barely see tv anymore.
    I have the shows I wanna see, and I download them from the net (Stargate,etc).
    Can’t bother for all the “Casual” tv programs for idiots that it seems to be around this days, just watch the news and that’s about it.

  3. I still watch a lot of TV, but 90% of it is time shifted, the stuff they try to spoon feed us during peaktimes is often beyond stupid. I cherry pick the best bits out on DVD, iPlayer and iTunes (oh and LoveFilm) and watch at my leisure.

    The 10% of stuff I do watch live (or as scheduled) is News, Sports & Doctor Who.

    There is still a lot of great drama on TV, it’s just too often tucked away on BBC4 or More4. It’s quite incredible to think that on it’s original UK airing “The Wire” was tucked away on ITV3 at 11:00 or something and given no advertising.

    God Bless DVD.

  4. indeed. they did the same with the west wing. Clearly there were too many long words and not enough canend laughter for peak time.

  5. When I was younger I wouldve never said I could live without the tv, but for the first time ever I am trying to work out if my tv licence cost is worth it.
    Everything is now on catch-up/iplayer, and I’ve alredy got an old mac mini connected to the tv…
    I guess its just the occassional live thing you want to watch. Bloody pricey for just that. My guess is that iplayer etc cannot stay free, or will require the tv licence.

  6. Whoops, got distracted mid-comment. That should be:

    “Now I’m terrified that someone will find a way to add little animations, cartoons, or waving arms to books.

    Thanks a lot, Cliff. D’:”

    If you have a mechanism to delete the previous one feel free to, because nothing of value will be lost. <_<;

  7. Nah… who needs the idiot box these days? Every news is on internet just seconds after it happened, all the shows I love are there too, no friggin commercials every 15 minutes like on all german chanels. I live without TV 6 years now and have a happy life.

  8. I’m ok with commercial breaks, I mean whoa money you know, but the banner things and station identifiers at the bottom during the show drive me up the wall. Add that to a lack of things I want to watch and away we go.

  9. Its obligatory in TV land to walk down a busy street talking to a camera a mile away expecting the crowd to clear a path for you while they all stare at you like your crazy.

  10. I am intrigued by the parallel development of PVRs that let you skip ads and other fluff on TV, and the ever-increasing amount of padding in immensely popular reality shows. Eventually we will have TV that contains only 30 seconds of actual content per day, and a machine that records that 30 seconds for us, and nothing else.

    On the theme of documentaries that leave you dumber than you were before you watched them:

  11. I watch most of the TV programmes I like on the iPlayer because there is just so much rubbish on TV now, even on the BBC which is supposed to be one of the more ‘educational’ group of channels.
    One of the things that bugged me about them recently was them ‘remaking’ a series of Swedish detective films called Wallander after they had already puchased the original Swedish ones. Why!?! Do they think people are incapable of reading subtitles now? I watched part of one of the remade films and realised that it wasn’t just for the subtitles either, the English versions seem to be a bit dummed-down from the originals.
    They seem to be good at wasting the TV License money now.

  12. “The Daily Show” here in the States is, I believe, a great example of how to do political commentary with a humorous, tongue in cheek attitude. If I listen to event coverage by a mainstream news entity, say Fox(spare me the “I thought you said ‘news entity'” jokes…) I will generally get just one side of the story, and often it’s not covered that well. With “The Daily Show”, they are overtly poking fun at one(or more) sides of the issue. As a result, you get a feel for what the opposing view is as well. Plus, it’s funny to boot. Mostly. The one thing it doesn’t do is cover it quickly. If they weren’t trying to be funny, you could cover the issue in 1/2 to 1/4 the time, I’m sure, and there’s certainly a place for that. I just wish I could find a news entity that wasn’t pushing an agenda. Anyway, shuttin’ up for now… =D

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