KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, January 03, 2005

TV: PR, Sex, and Violence in a Box

What I see on American TV these days mostly turns me off . . . so I turn it off.

Most of the talking heads don’t work as hard at checking out news stories as the reporters of the ’60s, ’70s, and even the ’80s did. The local ones generally base nonpolice stories on the press releases they get, adding a few self-serving quotes from the organizations who wrote the releases. They’re more concerned about looking good and getting airtime. The network reporters do a little better, except when it comes to reporting on anything related to George Bush. Most of them seem to believe anything that man says. Disgusts me. People who realize that this is the case have turned to alternative news sources in droves.

Then there’s the selling and the sex. Why would any sane person believe that having the newest car will get you an attractive romantic partner? But that’s what the car ads imply. Apparently, chewing certain kinds of gum and shopping at some stores will get you an attractive person as well. I can get a romantic partner on my own, thank you very much. And I don’t need to buy, buy, buy to be happy with my life.

But most egregious of all is the nonstop violence. Cop shows, detective shows, docudramas about kidnappings, movies about murder, wrestling, boxing, football, and hockey (I know I’ve just made enemies with the sports references) drown viewers in physical violence and pain. There are guns everywhere you look. Even sitcoms throw in a little physical violence, with kids threatening to beat up other kids and approving mentions of spanking children. Then there’s the emotional violence that sitcoms promote: canned laughter at parents who put down their children, coworkers who insult each other, and spouses and domestic partners who dole out more rudeness than love to each other. And people wonder why Americans are violence-prone.

I want TV that doesn’t pitch toys, soft drinks, candy, sex, and violence to my children. I want shows that don’t use guns or sex or car crashes to boost their ratings. I want real news, including footage of all the deaths on both sides in the war in Iraq, so that Bush’s blind followers might have their eyes opened.

But then again, I’ve sometimes been accused of tilting at windmills.


Deb said...

Aside from real in-depth news and the truth about Iraq, it occurs to me that the right-wing also wants a move away from the constant sell of sex/violence shock value drama that dominates so much of the airwaves.

I suspect that stuff sells because it is easier for people to "turn off" and relax to the mindless dribble. Reality with substance might actually make us think. I don't think corporations want us to think much. It is more difficult to sell to a thinking public. Thinking people make rational choices. Zombies do what they are told. (Yes, I know there are some good programs out there. I am speaking of the majority of prime time crap. There is not a healthy balance in my opinion.)

Do I sound arrogant? I don't care if I do. This country is in serious trouble and I have lost patience with the part of the population unwilling to go a little extra distance to help set some serious wrongs right because "their show" is on. Little things around us need attention...like peace, democracy, freedom of speech, decent health care and education for starters.

ian said...

One thing over-looked...

For all of its negatives, television has provided many positives. I wasn't even thought of when we landed on the moon and were able to watch ourselves watching ourselves, but I remember watching the wall being torn down, South Africans turning out to vote, and other major historical events.

Also, though they have biases of their own, the history channel and the various discovery's have provided intelegect, informative, and entertaining programming for years.

But as was stated before, this sort of programming is not what is widely promoted...


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Yes, there are good programs on TV--but they tend to get buried under all the garbage.

Susan said...

A year ago I stopped watching prime-time television because there was very little I was interested. I shut off all but the 13 basic cable channels and I only miss FoodTV. During the election season I still tuned into news programs to compare with what I read in the papers. TV news is always well behind the papers in regard to the time in reporting, getting the facts right, and reporting anything but the conservative opinion. Since the election I rarely turn on the tv. I have to admit the lack of sleazy conservative news these days is a good thing; I was so tired of the attacks on Clinton and then Kerry. But the blatant one-sidedness of it is astonishing. You can be sure it will start right up again as soon as there is a non-neocon running for something important.

Take the current situation surrounding the leaking of Valarie Plame's identify covered in the story written by the slanted Novak. Three journalist who didn't write the story have been sentence to prison time for not revealing sources while the friend-of-conservatives Novak is untouched. Where are all the journalists now that there's a neo-con in office? Are they afraid to speak up or are they all truly slanted? Here's Eric Alterman (one of the few liberal-slanted) on this subject: http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=275638

Personally, I don't understand how the Republican party can hold their heads up allowing these extremist to control their party. Power and greed I guess. (For the record, I've been an Independent for all of my voting life.) I agree with the previous poster - these guys are dangerous and should not be ignored. Thanks to bloggers like KOK for having the courage to speak up. We need a lot more like her.


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Susan, thanks for the kind words. Middle age is a wonderful thing: The older I get, the less I can keep my mouth shut. I know a lot of bloggers don't reveal their surnames--or even their real first names--but I figure what's the use in speaking out if I don't own my words?

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