Commercials are really weird these days. To be fair, they’re generally less offensive, but I just saw a commercial that was advertising the mid-term elections like a UFC fight. Then the next commercial was about car insurance set to dancing club music. I seriously don’t know what TV even is anymore.
I went to school for film and media with a focus on TV. So far, the closest I’ve been to working in “the biz” was tech support at a call center for a cable company (which is a terrible job btw). I hadn’t had traditional cable TV for almost 5 years and suddenly I had free cable and every single channel. It was an immersive experience and I feel like all I talked about with anyone was TV. TVs were on at work, I was talking to tons of people about TV for 40 hours a week, I would go home and continue watching TV. It was a bit much and I noticed how my daily behavior would change. I’m not suggesting it’s TV’s fault but TV was definitely a factor as I was so saturated with it.
Working in the call center made me hate traditional TV. I spoke to countless shut-ins who’s only connection to the outside world was their TV. They would talk to me about how scary the world is but statically the world is actually getting safer. If the TV went out, the person on the other line would panic about what to do until it was fixed. I never knew what to say because TV is only 1 way to pass time in a world of infinite possibilities. But these were often elderly people, lonely, sometimes really sick or physically disabled, separated from the world, afraid of it and their whole lives wrapped up in the TV.
This… is sad.
I had always seen an artistic side to media whether that was a TV show or an advertisement. The sheer power of media to be able to show people the world, tell its stories and show its beauty. But instead, I saw unimaginative advertisements to encourage consumption, sensationalized, polarized news stories and the same sitcoms repeatedly just with slightly different faces from channel to channel. TNT airs Friends reruns all day long and BBC airs Star Trek all day long. MTV rotates between Jersey Shore, Catfish, and Teen Mom. These are literally the same shows that were on when I stopped watching TV 5 years ago. Obviously, I realize there have been some good shows but the point is, why has so little changed in the last 5 years?
Except, of course, mid-term elections are UFC fight apparently. I get wanting to get people more interested in politics and encouraging more people to vote and so you advertise something more interesting than what it is. I mean seriously. All you can do is vote but are you really going to watch the “smackdown” on CNN as they count the votes for all 50 states? You might as well watch paint dry. Once you vote it’s useless to watch the anxiety of numbers, whatever will be will be. If the results aren’t satisfactory (which they won’t be, at least not completely regardless of your opinions), you continuing fighting your personal good fight. I can’t stand this approach that feeds off of anxiety and fear and irrational anger. Instead of asking what we are angry about, we use scapegoats and blame some abstract ideas in a vain attempt to satisfy ourselves.
That’s what TV does now. It gets people all riled up over the wrong things. There are lots of interesting things happening in the world, good and bad and everything in between. Media has a way to show us those things… or not show us. There’s a UFC event to count votes but no one cares they found liquid water on Mars. I don’t mean to paint the assumption you shouldn’t care about the votes or that you should care about liquid water, it’s bigger than that. What I mean is, there’s a lot going on in the world and it’s not healthy to wrap it all around the window of your color tv. Especially if it’s just sort of toxic. Watching the counting on CNN isn’t going to change the results. It only serves to make people anxious and angry.
Again, I want a better world than the one we have. I want better entertainment options, not a counting show dressed up as a PPV fight night event. I guess I have a lot of thoughts about TV and movies but the way a culture chooses to entertain itself and the stories that it tells, are a reflection of the culture itself. From my perspective, the popular media paints a dull, uncreative, anxious culture that I think it more beautiful than that.
Well, those are my thoughts for today. Until tomorrow friends!