May 11, 2006

By Jim Kittelberger

What has happened to the television networks? There isn’t anything to watch anymore. That is if you are over twenty-five, and that’s stretching it a bit. I understand, I think, that this is all a money game, and art does not enter the picture. If they could make a game out a gall bladder operation and have several nymphets trying to find it while removing their clothes, they would do it. It is all in the demographics, so I am to understand. The age group of 0-19 appears to have all the disposable money and will spend it, so they pitch all the shows to that group. I also understand that reality shows are a gimme to the network executives. They can group together three young ladies that will not hesitate to let garbage come out of their mouths, I suppose to startle the audience or show how worldly they are, get real, while losing their shirts, and three young studs also losing their shirts, panting and posturing in front of them. It used to be men chased the women, but that’s another story. The game perhaps may be to see how soon the women can bed all the guys, or vice versa, and she or he, will win a million bucks. Wow, what a lot of money for the networks to pay out. Nonsense, legitimate entertainment shows, re: Ray Romano’s show pays each of the stars, and I count five of them, a million or so a week, now that’s money. So the reality shows are a bonanza for the networks, but disaster for anyone with even enough taste or discernment to think ‘Everybody loves Raymond’ is art. It’s not, of course, but it can be watched by anyone, that counts for something; it’s funny; adults, that forgotten demographic can watch it; different age groups can view it, and if grandma comes in the room, you wouldn’t feel embarrassed and feel you should throw a blanket over the television set.

Wouldn’t you think the networks would feel a little embarrassed about what they offer the world each week? They once employed creative people and offered some first rate, original drama. Even at their worst they could not be accused of not having a variety of offerings.

I don’t pretend to know the root cause of the deterioration of the television networks, but perhaps it is the plethora of cable shows that caused them to cede any semblance of an effort to offer quality programming. It is apparent that they have all become bean counters, and if they can shove more drivel down the throats of the viewing public produced at rock bottom prices, they will do it.

So what can we do about it? I suppose we can write a letter, send an e-mail, but why do I think that if I folded the letter into a paper airplane and threw it out the window, it would have about the same effect.

Money is all they are interested in, so an economic boycott is an idea, but who among us is militant enough to go that route? Probably not too many of us.

So, we get what we deserve I guess. For me, I cannot do without television completely, so we have subscribed to the lowest cost cable available, but who gets hurt doing it this way? Not the networks, they don’t even know we’re not watching any particular show, so we rent movies of our choice and sit and gripe in frustration. They’re too big and too rich to take on. If there is an answer, I will enlist in the cause. (If it doesn’t take me out of my comfort zone.)

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