TV Goes Downhill

Picture taken at Georgia Aquarium, pictured is...
Picture taken at Georgia Aquarium, pictured is one of the two resident male whale sharks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TV Goes Downhill

The lowest common denominator. That apparently is the demographic television programming is looking for if these reinventions are to make any sense. Of course, maybe doing real programming is hard. After all, how much brains does it take to do “Shark Week?”

I have some old VHS tapes with programming from the Discovery Channel and the History Channel, powerful learned television shows with meaning. Now, my college students complain about the low quality of the programming and how little science or history is being covered.

Is there a business ethics issue here? Well, there is something wrong about advertising yourself as dealing with serious scientific, cultural or historical matters, and then producing junk designed for the inquisitive mind of, “Well, nobody.” Inquisitive minds aren’t wanted there.

And there is the lost opportunity of appealing to what is best in humanity, thrown away endlessly seeking higher ratings or a younger demographic. Whether that is a business ethics problem depends on your interpretation.

I don’t watch those programs anymore. I don’t think anybody should.

James Pilant

TV’s 10 most bizarre reinventions –

All across the dial, cable networks have shed their identities in order to become things far stranger — and, often, a bit less highbrow — than they’d been initially. The network formerly known as History Channel (now it’s just History) has defined the academic subject as including ancient aliens and truckers; TV Land’s reruns have gone from old-school classics to stuff from 10 years ago; just about every fine-arts channel broadcasts reality TV now.

It makes sense — in a crowded market, no one’s going to subsidize a network that does something unpopular. All these networks once did slightly different things, but now many have shifted toward the same model: broadcasting unscripted shows depicting a particular corner of the American experience (trucking, pawnbroking, being a pampered wife of one variety or another). Still, there’s something a bit wistful about imagining each of these cable networks’ original iterations frozen in amber — rather than a dial full of similar-looking broadcasts, we could have a gleefully out-of-step Bravo and A&E doing British costume drama, and medical oddities all over TLC. Oh well–there’s always reading!

via TV’s 10 most bizarre reinventions –

From around the web.

From the web site, Blogs, Discover Magazine.

While there may be a debate about what “sightings” may be, there is one thing that scientists are sure of: Megalodon is extinct.

Part of me is furious with you, Discovery, for doing this. But mostly, I’m just deeply saddened. It’s inexplicably depressing that you’ve gone from “the world’s #1 nonfiction media company” to peddling lies and faking stories for ratings. You’ve compromised your integrity so completely with this special, and that breaks my heart. I loved you, Discovery, ever since I was a child. I grew up watching you. It was partly because of you that I became transfixed by the natural world and pursued a career in science. I once dreamed of having my own Discovery Channel special, following in the footsteps of people like Jeff Corwin. Not anymore. This is inexcusable. You have an obligation to your viewers to hold to your non-fiction claims. You used to expose the beautiful, magical, wonderful sides of the world around us. Now, you just make shit up for profit. It’s depressing. It’s disgusting. It’s wrong.

I won’t be watching the rest of Shark Week. I simply can’t.

From the web site, From New York to San Francisco.

I’m not even going to bother sliding into my regular shtick about how far the network has fallen, or how I would take the 24/7 Hitler and Nazi Germany program broadcasting of the 90′s any day over this garbage, because it is a fruitless effort. Apparently, I am in the minority when it comes to opinion on programming. I guess I should feel silly for wanting the History Channel to stop putting on shows where toothless red-necks blast alligator brains out with shotguns and then jump up and down in their little boats hootin’ n’ hollerin’ with unintelligible grunts like they just won the lottery. I am amazed, after seeing shows like that, at how surprised people from the Deep South are when they are looked at as being backwards hicks. Do not blame northern ignorance, my friends, blame the media and popular culture that has turned your society into a hole of filth and slime. At least Chasing Tail is going to do something to repair the damage done: it will show that northerners can be hicks too!

I do not know what is even left anymore. H2 used to always be the safe haven when the History Channel started going to hell, but even that is being corrupted with asinine, pseudo-historical shows like America Unearthed, where the host, Scott Wolter, can make an entire episode centered around a microscopic carving on a rock and lead the viewer on a baseless quest around the country to misrepresent far-reaching theories as fact, and then find absolutely no concrete evidence to back anything up. This show, in format and principle, is identical to Ancient Aliens. The latter attempts to say that everything the ancients built on earth was really built by aliens, while the former attempts to say that everything ancient Americans built on this continent was really built by foreigners. Is there a difference? I acknowledge that the history books are wrong and there is more than meets the eye, but without actual evidence, the shows are absolutely useless. Maybe if I carved a cross onto the tree in my backyard I could get the crew to come down to try to prove that the Knights Templar hid the Holy Grail in Hazlet, New Jersey. Maybe if I find a really big squirrel climbing that same tree I can get Monsterquest to come out of retirement and have a double whammy!