Posts Tagged ‘british tv’

10 Things I learned from TV

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

This time last year, if you had asked me, I would have told you I never watch TV. I rarely, if ever, did. I often went months without ever watching anything. This was my pattern for many years. But don’t fret! This past year I have made up for every electronically-induced-thought-coma-moment I missed. I have now clocked my television watching hours and then some. 😉 All in fun. Television can be useful. It gives us an outside view of our society, ourselves. This is what I have learned:

10. I live in an alternate reality, one completely unlike “Reality TV.”

9. You can watch an entire season of any show in a weekend with just enough wherewithal and Starbucks.

8. Even the intelligent and geeky are dumbed down eventually.1

7. Networks can and will make you wait an entire year or MORE to find out what happens next in your favorite television program.234 NEWS FLASH: This is not a cliff-hanger, its a drop-off. This is not about patience. This is simply ridiculous! By the time it returns—it is a brand new show for me and if I have not lost interest, I generally have to watch it all over to remember what the heck is going on.

6. DVR in any form is a friend—freedom from electronic slavery.

5. Those networks which have learned to put their ENTIRE episodes on their website, thus sharing, profit from the web traffic—those networks that opt not to in an attempt to force watching on their terms will lose out to pirated copies streamed on video sites.

4. The Nielsens do not acknowledge my watching choices as a credible source of good television and all rating systems seem to be entirely and mysteriously based around two criteria: American Idol and the number of commercial interruptions.

3. Good programming is very difficult to find.

2. Once you find it — it is canceled after one season.5

1. The Angels have the blue box.

  1. See the SyFy channel. []
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/ []
  3. http://abc.go.com/primetime/lost/index?pn=index []
  4. http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/ []
  5. See Life on Mars and Journeyman. []

American Culture, Infectious?

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

Over the years I have heard many a complaint about how America’s culture, or lack thereof, is invading other countries through our mindless, moral-less television programs and capitalistic ways. While I do believe in capitalism, albeit, I prefer soft capitalism, I rarely watch TV but that sense of shame, upon hearing the arguments about our overwhelming blame in the erosion of world culture, does not escape me . I know I am not alone in this feeling, almost every American intellectual I know has some variant of this guilt, be it little or looming.1 It stems from the attitudes expressed throughout the world. Many people in many societies find it easy to believe the U.S. is the primary cause of their own social ills.2 Often cited are our television programs and our capitalistic franchises; from Jerry Springer to McDonald’s to George W. Bush, everything becomes our fault.

Despite taking on some of this guilt, I have defended my country arduously, particularly, in the last eight years. I will continue to do so now. We are not our television programs. We are not our franchises. We are not our Government, no matter how corrupt it may or may not be. As much as any other country in the world, we are victims of the same mindless, detrimental crap. And despite all of this, I am not at all convinced this corruption stems from us anyways. Certainly, we play our part in the grand scheme but with a little research, it is easy to see we are hardly the cause.

Let’s begin with the evil franchise. Yes, we have built parasitic empires now thriving the world over (McDonald’s…Starbucks…Microsoft). We are guilty of being extremely successful in “franchising” but we are hardly responsible for its invention. This concept has been around a long time, folks. The first documented franchise was in France in 1232. 3 So, I say, let’s blame the French.

And what about all the good things we’ve given the world? Here is a list…perhaps not even a complete list, but a fun list:

The Computer, google, iPods, roller skates, mechanical refrigerators, water towers, oil wells, the burglar alarm, the motorcycle, the vacuum cleaner, the subway, the telegraph, the telephone, even the mobile phone, dentist drill, cash register, hearing aids, electric fan, fountain pen, the skyscraper, the electric iron, the fuel pump (gas station, petrol pump — station), blue jeans, the electric motor, the Ferris wheel, the escalator, the smoke detector, radio (although this is disputed), the tractor, cotton candy, the volleyball, the zipper, crayons, windshield wipers, the first safety razor, the spray gun, the coffee pot, the lock-stitch sewing machine, the combine, the motorcycle (aka the motorbike), toilet paper, Coke, the record (vinyl), the revolving door, the Popsicle (aka the Icy Pole), tea bags, Self Starter (for cars — replacing the crank), Wirephoto (think Western Union), BAND-AIDs, tape (both masking and scotch…aka cello or sticky), Liquid-Fueled Rockets, the Bread Slicer, the jukebox, Bubble Gum, sunglasses, frozen food, the bathysphere, the Chocolate Chip Cookie, the particle accelerator, Radio Astronomy, the chair lift, the photocopier, nylon, the defibrillator, the microwave oven, The Polaroid and digital camera, the video game, radiocarbon dating, the disposable diaper (aka Nappies), the heart-lung machine, the nuclear submarine (inventive, not necessarily good), the Polio vaccine, birth-control pills, the laser, the computer mouse, the internet (TCP/IP), operating systems, the wide-body airplane, optical fiber, e-mail, the electronic calculator, barcode for products, human-powered flight, space shuttles, GUIs, The Red Cross, the artificial heart, the Hubble Telescope, the Galileo, stem-cell line, HPV vaccine and last but not definitely not the least important…Scrabble!!!

So, I dare say…that McDonald’s and Jerry Springer do not make up the majority of what we’ve given to the world.

We will accept three-quarters responsibility for George W., since he was born and raised here and some of our constituents actually did vote for him. However, he was elected under the most dubious of circumstances and the process was fraught with deception and illegal tactics. We are sorrier than you can imagine about George W.!!!4

Let us not forget the many unpleasant people who did not come from the United States of America. We can thank Australia for Rupert Murdoch, arguably one of the most evil people on the planet. Our beloved Jerry Springer is a London-native brought over at the age of five…after his most-formative years cemented in British culture.5 And while we are pointing our fingers at the Queen’s home, I will go ahead and mention that most of our mind-rotting television programs originated in London. We are simply copy-cats in that regard. From “Three’s Company” in the 1970’s to the influx of ridiculous and most-obnoxious “reality TV” shows permeating every channel today…i.e. “American Idol”, “Survivor” etc. all stem from British TV. So, we could blame the Brits for the rotten television we now produce.

But is it really any one country’s fault the world is changing? Societies are melding into less personal, more commercial groups of disconnected peoples. This is reality. Who is at fault? The French who gave us franchising and an excessive need to accessorize? The Belgians who gave us the “french” fries? The Germans who gave us the “hamburger”? The Colombians for their coffee bean? The Brits who gave us poor television programming and well, they are the parents of the U.S., are they not? The Australians for giving us the most-evil social conservative ever (Rupert Murdoch)? The Americans who run far and wide with ideas, good and bad? The Chinese with their lead-riddled products falling apart in every corner of the globe? Or the Japanese with their excessively-small electronic parts and economic-cars clogging up every street and landfill?

I think it is all too convoluted and interconnected to disentangle the roots of blame.

Let’s just blame Canada6.

We each have a place in this new amalgamated culture permeating the world. We each have our responsibilities and contributions to the enmeshment of our societies. So, love us or hate us… we are not to blame for every ill in your society. Many of your countries had their own social-diseases long before we even became a country. We are the not perfect but we are not the root of all evil either.

So, get a new excuse on why your country is falling apart, why your children seem to have lost their moral compass, or why your alarm clock doesn’t wake you up in the morning. =)

  1. http://www.americans-world.org/digest/global_issues/globalization/culture.cfm []
  2. http://www.loveushateus.com/main.asp?id=88 []
  3. http://ezinearticles.com/?Buy-N-Sell—History-of-Franchises&id=1661033 []
  4. For the record, I did not vote for George W. Bush in either election and I did vote for President Elect Barack Obama!!!! []
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Springer []
  6. Just kidding! A little South Park humor … something someone told me once, I never seen the episode myself []