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Thursday, April 08, 2010

American Idol outdone again, from Taiwan

In yet another example of how little true talent is on American Idol, there is Lin Yu Chun. Don't know who he is? Well there is little doubt that many will know his name soon.

You have heard of Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. How could you not and be in America over the past 20 years (the song is originally Dolly Parton's song, written in 1973). Now think of that song, and click on the video clip... But Don't Watch the Video!

Incredible huh?

The GUY who sang this near perfect copy is Lin Yu Chun. He's Taiwanese. So not only can he sing the song as well as Whitney Houston, it's not his native language.

I dare any of the insta-pop stars on American Idol to try to sing near as well in another language. Even in Spanish, one of the most common languages on the planet. Anyone willing to take odds they can't do it?

Just another example that American Idol isn't about talent, it's about fitting a marketing mold.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

VH1 and Viacom are turning a new leaf - unlikely

I admit that I am surprised with the latest news coming out of Viacom's VH1. My shock is that the former music video channel has suddenly realized that African Americans might just be more than whimsical minstrels. This is a massive departure from Viacom's steady and degrading fare of television programing.

Viacom is the owner of Black Entertainment Television (not connected to this site or company), VH1, MTV, and Comedy Central. Of these cable networks only Comedy Central has been known to present African Americans in any format beyond buffons, especially when it comes to the "reality" television core of most of those channels. It was BET that featured it's new line up with Hot Ghetto Mess - a collection of minstrel degrading video clips and commentary from Charlie Murphy (who looked like he was there only for the paycheck).

Add to that the consistent line up of VH1. Flava of Love, I Love New York, Rock of Love, and a host of other "reality" programs that seemed dedicated to ensuring future generations would never be bereft of stereotypes of people of color. To say that Viacom, under Sumner Redstone, has been the real life version of Bamboozled is an understatement.

So when I learned that VH1 has decided to change that format, I had to wonder if Sumner Redstone was still alive. Considering that he is approaching 87, my guess would be that he is trying to, partially, get some credit in with heaven.

Be that as it may, the new line-up at Viacom's VH1 will include well-adjusted rich and famous Black Americans. Specifically Rozonda Thomas — better known as Chilli of TLC, Ray J and Brandy Norwood, and Shaunie O'Neal and other women involved with basketball players.

It's a radical change from the usual fare of deficating on floors, spitting, catfights, and other 'entertaining' items in the "big fun romantic comedies" - what VH1 executive vice president Jeff Olde calls the usual reality television programs - that are the normal formula at VH1.

But fear not, Viacom has not lost it's mind. They are hardly giving up the bread-and-butter of displaying minstrels and buffoons.

"Critics point to the continued inclusion of such black stereotypes as the gold-digging woman, the hypersexual and irresponsible man, and cast members prone to raging behavior and violence as a way to gratify viewers' voyeuristic desires."

Of course to keep that in with shows that feature, in the case of Chilli a grown woman with her own money and success plus a 12 year old son, producers will be doing a lot of editing. "Reality" television is only 'real' after producers single out the most ignorant and pedantic of material, especially when it comes to the formula that VH1 has had great success with. So as classy and wealthy as any of the 3 new shows might be in theory, they will definitely have their moments of trash. Given the tastes of Sumner Redstone and Viacom, I would expect a lot of them.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The future of reality television

Everyone loves reality television right? American Idol, Survivor, Bad Girls Club, even the Housewives of wherever and the rest of their ilk continue to dominate the programming of virtually every network on television today. But you know that at some point soon (which will not be soon enough for me) there will come a ratings slump. Then what will the television execs do?

Movies have already looked at the craze for "reality" television. They have pondered the pro's and con's of the idea. They have considered the ineviable decline in interest and the subsequent efforts to spice up the programs to keep the eyeballs on theiur shows. The ultimate result, according to movies, is

or maybe an idea from 1975

Still not quite right?

I know. Not possible. That's just sci-fi movie fantasy. It could never happen.

Except that in France, 64 people on a "reality" television show gave a 'contestant' electric shocks until he 'died'.

Are you sure we are still that far away from the movies?

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Susan Boyle proves American Idol is a waste of time

I have been asked in the past why I dislike American Idol so much. I have explained it many times, but I think the recent debut album of Britain's Got Talent winner Susan Boyle makes it crystal clear.

Susan Boyle is not a beauty queen. That reason alone is likely why she has not been scooped up by a record label long before now. Because she wouldn't look sexy in a music video, and she isn't so young she couldn't drink in America. She is an average woman, with incredible talent.

Adam Lambert, and all the other winners of American Idol are virtually all young, good looking, and marketable to teens and young adults. They can be marketed via music videos, dressed in all manner of revealing or seductive clothing, and prance around a stage in mock acts of lacivity that just draws censors and media attention.

The difference between the 2? Talent.

There is no comparison of the American Idol winners and Susan Boyle (or another surprise winner in England Paul Potts who sings opera like a knockout punch). Not even Jennifer Hudson, who is quite good, can match her talent. But then again, American Idol isn't about talent. It's about making money.

American Idol is simply a way for people to prove that they can sell according to a set of preconceived list of attributes that American record companies find important. It's a cookie cutter mold of throw away acts that make a quick buck. They are flash in the pans that are about as important to record companies as last year's ratings are to American Idol - they only count if money is coming in.

Hell, the proof of the pudding had to be William Hung. He wasn't attractive, he couldn't sing, he couldn't even shake rythmically. But he got ratings out the buttocks. So he got a record deal, and made 2 albums before he was discarded like day old fish. His shelf life was longer than his talent, but he was a useful tool to rake in cash on a gimick.

But in Britain's Got Talent we see singers that aren't confined to just pop music. They aren't molded to quick sales and gimmicks. They aren't just a means to the next buck, but are actually able to do something special. Well at least sometimes if we are being honest.

That's the point though. The concept was to find people with talent that were overlooked for whatever reason. To give them a shot at living their hearts dream. Britain's Got Talent does that, American Idol just goes for the superficial.

Why in the world would I, or anyone, want to watch a bunch of people embarrass themselves (in the early portion), and then sell their creative souls to become just another forgettable name on the one hit wonder list? Even if they survive for a while, all they are is mediocre and pop tarts that can be replaced in a year.

If I am going to commit to watching regular people trying to make it big, I'd rather go out with friends to see a live performance. I'd rather see people trying to make it with their creative souls intact and enjoying being what they dreamed instead of the prefab creation of a bunch of accountant and statisticians. I want to see talent, not marketing.

American Idol is literally the worst of programming on television. It takes your brain cells and life and gives you back reguritated mash.

And by the way, I recommend the album of Susan Boyle. I may one day recommend Adam Lambert, if he is around in a year or 2 and has more to offer than gimmicks and the insta-fame of pop television fluff.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maybe there is hope for mankind yet

In probably the happiest news I've learned about in year I can now say that the Fox 'Reality' Channel will be ending. That's right, a 'reality' network is going to dust.

After what seemed like an endless run of this programming trend, turning countless numbers of people into chattel for the television corporations, an end is in sight. And not a moment too soon as Flava Flav is about to venture into schools and directly corrupt minds with this trash.

I cannot say that I will miss a single program. In fact, I can say with glee that I have never seen more than 5 minutes of any 'reality' program since I watched a full episode of Survivor the first season. That experience was enough to kill more brain cells than the grain alcohol party in my freshman year in college.

Maybe, just maybe, television executives will spend a little money and get writers to provide something with the semblance of originality. Just maybe a spark of innovation will venture through the ITV and provide the next generation something more than the notion that acting like a buffoon is desirable.

Considering the plethora of copycat shows (CSI is CIS: NY is NCIS, Law & Order is Law & Order with an alphabet, they all are more original than Medium, Numbe3rs, Cold Case and so on) and the near limitless ways that Viacom found to market Flav and his nymphette minions, I was ready to declare that the Romans watching the gladiators as Rome decayed into ruin were riding the crest of the wave of their civilizations demise compared to today. But Fox may be ahead of the curve in noticing that reality is what people want to escape while watching TV. And there is just so many times you can watch some idiot make a complete churl of themselves.

I don't know what the next trend in television might be, but I can only hope that it might have some tiny bit of imagination and intelligence. I'm asking for way too much, but you never know. You can't get what you don't ask for.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Flava Flav is back at VH1 - don't set your Tivo

I was going to write about Tiger Woods and his yet again record breaking feat, when I ran across a bit of news that stopped me in my tracks. It's news that I am sure Sumner Redstone felt was groundbreaking. hundreds of fans will be elated to know that... Flava Flav has a new reality television show.

Yet the king of VH1 "reality" programming will be back. But sadly this time there will not be a slew of morally corrupt, attention starved, stereotypical women or men on the program. That's right, instead of highlighting grown adults (particularly of color I'm sad to say) acting like complete fools for 15 minutes of fame the show will instead highlight kids in high school - likely also acting like fools hoping to gain 15 minutes of fame.

Of course the program is not focused on presenting the kids as buffoons. That's just the general way that people on reality programming wind up being portrayed. The goal is

"I just want to show the world it's never too late to get your diploma, and show kids they should stay in school and not wait until you're old to get it," Flav said. "Everybody sees me as this big love mogul. Now I got a baby girl, I've been there and done that and now it's time for the next episode."

Don't get me wrong, I commend most things that seek to highlight the importance of education. I want to emphasize that knowledge is the key to improving your life. But I neither believe nor trust Flava Flav, Sumner Redstone, and Viacom in getting that message out.

If this were an attempt to seriously promote education, especially to children of color, why is this not being presented on BET (which Viacom owns and Sumner Redstone controls)? If this were only about a positive message why not put it on broadcast television in primetime - because even with the lower viewership of broadcast TV it would still be available to a larger audience than VH1 will get.

Do I trust Viacom? Why should I. They took BET and removed all of its best features. They promoted the worst of music videos, of insanely stupid programming (remember Hot Ghetto Mess was their surefire hit idea), of the very least worth of movies (unless you think Soul Plane was unfairly overlooked by the Oscars). Viacom promoted Flava of Love at VH1, for multiple seasons, and then spun off even more brain-numbing spin-offs of the program. And let's not forget the decade+ long exclusion of music videos featuring African American entertainers - except Michael Jackson - at MTV.

As for Flava Flav, he has sold out in the worst way. Many younger readers may be completely unaware of how Flav got to become a celebrity. They likely have no idea what his enourmous clock is meant to represent.

Flav was a member of Public Enemy, a rap group that existed before gangsta rap was promoted as the only form of rap by music executives. Back when rap music was diversified, and positive political messages were empowering listeners - back when the music industry was calling rap a fad - Public Enemy was huge.

The rap group was controversial, but overall spread a message of empowerment and power of the people. They were political in a way similar to Malcolm X as compared to Dr. Martin Luther King. And at that time, the clock was meant to signify that time was running out. That people of color has to wake up and realize that they were becoming pawns in the political and societal goals of people that didn't care about issues in our communities.

Flav has gone a long way since those days. From protesting the minstrel show, to hosting it.

So given these facts about the key people involved in this "reality" program, do I think anyone will realize that Flava Flav is trying to promote education? I doubt it. But it does give me one more program, timeslot, and channel I don't have to consider in my choices of entertainment.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mommy XXX

Well now that Jon & Kate Plus 8 has halted production, hopefully forever, there is a void. Millions have suddenly lost their "reality" television drama fix. They are bereft of their ability to feel better at the expense of a marriage and several small children. This will not do.

It won't have to either. Some television executive was reading the tea leaves and came up with a sure-fire attention grabber. Actually I expect that the exec was doing something far different, but I won't describe it.

Thus we now have Mommy XXX. Yes, the "real" lives of a porn star as she raises 2 teen kids. Kids that are fully aware of what mom does for a living, the people in the industry, and newbies hoping to get into the limelight.

If this doesn't create a controversy, I'm scared where television will go next.

But to be honest, I am in a quandry. On the one hand I hate all "reality" television shows. They are the dregs of television creativity. They provide nothing but an opportunity to vegetate in front of a television and then again at work with colleagues.

On the other hand is the fact that the porn industry is being shown in a light that is for once not negative. Not that the taboo of porn has ever hurt its sales. The industry makes more money every year than all the Hollywood studios put together, combined with the sales of GM. Well maybe not GM, but you get my point.

Still my thought is that porn is not the horror that the main media industry makes it out to be. It has real people, doing their jobs, and raising families with the money like any other industry. So a bit of respect is due.

Yet, I don't like the idea that porn will be promoted to young teens. Because in all reality that is the target group. Young boys and 20-something young men. Watching the show to get a hint of titilation without getting labeled as perverts or "dirty".

Presented on Crackle (some kind of internet television I think - I'm sure my younger readers know what it is) the show features women feeling each others breasts - in an episode about breast implants - as an example. The breasts are mostly covered with hearts and smiley faces, but that is more than enough for a hormonal 15 year old. And the message to young women, I can't even begin to imagine.

Plus I can imagine how internet searches for all the various porn stars (especially lead Demi Delia - who has 3000+ web items in just a quick google) will explode. As likely will porn video sales. Which is good for the economy, and the entertainers, but inevitiably will rub the Bible Belt raw. Especially when in one episode that I saw, an actress is promoting working in the industry. I'm sure NOW will love that.

So is this a bad idea? Has television - "reality" television - gone too far?

Yes and no. I doubt that more women will be racing to the doors of the porn industry than already do. Young men likely know all the actresses already (though their moms will assure you they don't). Porn will not corrupt anyone more than they already are. But for the few that might have been on a fence, this will likely push them over the edge. And it's not exactly family entertainment. Plus it still is as vacuous as any other "reality" program.

Thus I bet this will become the new controversy. It has everything that the tabloids and executives could hope for. Water cooler conversations will never be the same.

And after contemplation, I decided to include the episode I was speaking about above. Thus you can draw your own conclusions based on the show itself. Not everyone will agree with my decision, but so be it.

And as a side note, I agree with the son.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jon & Kate Plus 8 – the show must go on

Actually it shouldn’t. I have been disgusted with the tabloid coverage of this couple. The media frenzy over their marital difficulties was abominable. And it all culminated with the show this evening.

After the endless speculation and paparazzi attempts to confirm the worst of thoughts, Jon and Kate Gosselin have publicly declared they are getting a divorce. And television, especially reality television has found a new low in its search for the common denominator.

With the pressure and unforgiving presence of the media, a family now is broken. And millions got to watch it happen. It is perhaps the largest mass media sadomasochist event so far in the history of the medium. The money generated by this event will never make up for the lives that have been ruined.

The lives I’m speaking about are the 8 children of the Gosselin’s. None are old enough to full understand what has happened. But they are old enough to feel every repercussion of this event. And thanks to television and the media at large, they will be able to relive this all their lives. A fact that television executives I am sure are happy about.

There are so many reasons why this is wrong. The effects of this will last far longer than the “reality” show. In the end, the pain inflicted will likely not be seen until it hits a headline down the road. Yes, all 8 children are now 1000% more likely to become part of a more tragic statistic than growing up with divorced parents. They may become part of the child stars that have lives damaged permanently – like Dana Plato, Todd Bridges, Lindsey Lohan, Tatum O’Neal, Danny Bonaduce, Britney Spears, Brad Renfro, Michael Jackson and so many others.

Just for the momentary amusement of the public. The joy of letting someone feel better about their own lives by watching someone else’s problems. And it only took the infliction of pain on the minds and lives of children that can’t even understand what has happened.

Would this have happened anyway? Maybe. But there is no question that having the parents chased down by the vulture hordes of cameramen looking for any failure in their lives made raising so many children just that much more difficult. There is no question that the pressure of having their lives documented for the watercooler commentary of the masses did not make it easier. Not getting a chance to just be loving parents, or a married couple, just ensured what was announced today.

Yes, over 50% of the people married today get divorced. Yes, society does not view divorce the same as say 30 years ago. In fact, it is now considered as much a part of marriage as anything else. But do we really need to be a part of this happening? Do we really need to know intimately how this happens to a family in weekly episodes?

But millions have gotten their pound of flesh. They are reminded that the Gosselin’s are just like them. Television has found a new low to sink to. The commercial success of this family breakdown guarantees executives duplicating the events for even higher profit.

So when you see the Gosselin kids in the headlines in 10 years, don’t be surprised. When you see the paparazzi chasing them down courthouse steps, or seeing their mugshots, feel as smug as when you watched their parents announce their divorce. Because every viewer, the cable network, television, the tabloids, the major media, all helped it to happen.

What a proud moment for the tabloids. What a grand experience for America. What a heyday for the viewing public, indeed.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Octomom plus 6

You know, I am really scared by the thought of Nadya Suleman (octomom) being in a television show. It seems to be the very definition of how unlike reality these “reality” programs can get.

Suleman is an attention whore. Which says nothing of the probabale damage she will bring to her children. If no damage has already been done, which is highly unlikely. The woman appears to be incapable of taking care of her children as is – and that’s just thinking of the 6 she already has.

But what is worse is the thought that untold thousands if not millions will be watching this woman self-destruct. Not that any television producer would ever step in for the sake of the kids. They will never get in the way of ratings just because decency obligates them to ensure the kids get the help they need. Jon & Kate Plus 8 has proven that in droves. Which matches the number of sadist people in the nation willing to watch the meltdown from the comfort of their couch.

Now I know I called the recent viewers of Jon & Kate Plus 8 sadists. Some will think this unfair and an overstatement. But it really isn’t. By definition a sadist enjoys inflicting pain on others. And by watching this family being assaulted by the tabloids, as well as having to deal with the stress that a 24/7 television crew looking over their shoulders brings. None of which can be argued as a benefit to the kids.

Thus in watching the show it prolongs the suffering, intensifies the paparazzi feeding frenzy, and justifies the tabloid actions. The Gosselin’s would never be plastered all over the national media were it not for viewers, and media looking to make a cheap buck. So think of how Suleman and her kid’s will be pimped, since they already are tabloid fodder.

I am no fan of “reality” programs. They are the scum at the bottom of the barrel that television creativity comes from. There is no benefit, no content, and nothing worth remembering. If grown adults want to make complete fools of themselves I have no objection. But we are not talking about adults, we are talking about an apparently emotionally impared mother, and 14 children. 8 of which are highly likely to have extreme medical and emotional problems.

Will that be the big ratings drive? Watching a mother who can barely control herself losing her mind on an infant that cannot do anything but be the product of bad medical procedures? Are we so morally corrupt as to think that this could ever be anything more than a depraved abuse of the children?

Personally, I plan on boycotting any advertiser that would ever consider supporting this program. There is no way of justifying this child abuse, least of all because someone hopes to make a buck out of this. Advertisers are as much of a pimp as the producers in this regard, and the prostitutes in this case are babies and children. I bet their mothers will be proud.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Reality television is voyeur sadism

Well I was away at a wedding for the past couple of days, so I haven’t said anything. But the long trip did give me a chance to listen to some 20 hours of news. And it was quite interesting. To say the least.

The saga of Jon & Kate Plus 8 has hit a fever pitch. The likelihood of a divorce between the 2 is imminent. And the media is all over this. The speculation is filling the airwaves. Without a scarce thought to how the children will be affected, both now and in the future.

Just like how Susan Boyle has be led to exhaustion in England, I expect little better for Jon and Kate Gosselin. I can’t even imagine the effect on their children. Truly the outcome will be anything but good.

Yet swarms of people are circling around the carcass of this marriage via the reality television show and tabloids. The season starting episode drew about 10 million viewers, the most ever for the show and the best for TLC Network. In fact it was the most watched program of any broadcast or cable channel that day. Which really is sad.

But I don’t know if I should be surprised. I mean I just came from a wedding where the pastor essentially was inferring that there was a time limit on the marriage. That at best the expectation was years, and not a lifetime. With that kind of view, I almost understand how the relationship of Jon and Kate Gosselin is high entertainment.

Add to this the programs that fill the airwaves. The Real Housewives of D.C. is the latest in a series of shows about nothing. There is the Rock of Love, or Bad Girls Club, or I Love Money, or I Love New York (the nickname of a woman without talent and not the city). In each case we have a reality program, designed to highlight the most trifling of human emotions and reactions. And virtually all of them (and a multitude of other reality programs) are fictional to some degree or another.

But we have become a society of drama and disaster. The only reality that is worthwhile is one where someone is being devastated. Where we watch people act as buffoons, without common sense, all for money and/or a few moments in the national eye. And things are really interesting if we can gossip the next day about how miserable someone else’s life is on some show as compared to ourselves.

Of course we forget that for us, and any child that might see these same programs, we are instilling a sense of how to behave. We reinforce the expectations of society. We promote the very results we see. Because approval is something we all want, and if behaving like an ass, and having self-destructing relationships is what maintains our attention it is also what we will create more often. Television is a wonderful tool of subliminal teaching. If you see it often enough, it becomes the norm. And if we add the moniker of reality, then we are given the seed of thought that this is the most we are expected to live.

Reality television, and the nature of what happens on these shows, feeds directly into the ultimate lowest common denominator of society. It has no benefit to provide us. But it will sap away hours of our lives. And it will provide us with the impetus to repeat exactly what we have seen.

There is no upside to watching a family disintegrate. We learn no lesson in the manner this is being presented to us. The only people who gain from this are television executives and tabloids. Neither of those groups of people have a concern beyond the income they can generate.

The thing that just strikes me the most though is that so many are deriving pleasure from the pain of others. People are obviously captivated and interested in the suffering of Jon and Kate, and/or Susan Boyle. As if in some way it vindicates whatever ills they live everyday as well. Honestly I thought we all were better than that. But in 20 hours of news over 3 days, it seems that I am wrong.

So the losers right now are not just the children of the Gosselin’s, and/or Susan Boyle, but everyone that is drawn to these breakdowns like carrion feeders. We effectively have become voyeuristic sadists. That’s not entertainment to me, it’s just depressing.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yahoo goes off the deep end with Jon & Kate Gosselin

Oh this is just not funny. In yet another example of why I hate the way the media exploits situations today I saw one of the worst cases.

On Yahoo, in the front page news headlines at 10:27 am, there is a video clip of Jon and Kate Gosselin. The headline reads
“Jon & KatePlus 8 parents have open marriage contract?”

Such a headline is a surprise. It implies, in conjunction with the recent allegations by tabloids, that both the parents are swingers. Such a subject is taboo among the mainstream of America, and rarely ever mentioned in the news without negative implications.

The video clip then shows you the Good Morning America show, and Robin Roberts introducing a video report of the status of the show. We see that the new season has started, that Jon and Kate appear but separately, and that the children are now 5 years old. In that video report the allegation that the Gosselin’s are contemplating splitting up is covered. And it is stated that Kate requested Jon to sign a contract that he could date as long as he appeared for the shows taping.

So immediately we get one thing clearly set before us. Yahoo is sensationalizing the situation. They are taking a step towards a tabloid in creating a headline that has virtually nothing to do with the actual information. At best, the entire 6 minute video clip – which includes an interview with a black family that has sextuplets and an older son, and has had limited exposure to the pressure of reality television – covers all of 7 seconds on what the Yahoo headline proposes.

Only in Hollywood does the alleged contract equate to an open marriage. Only in the worst of news media is such a connection become the driving force of the story.

In fact, Robin Roberts covers how the media, and reality television itself, are major factors in causing the family to have difficulty. That is it the existence of the cameras non-stop that is harming every person, notably the 5 year olds, for no reason than the fascination of the public.

I understand that the Gosselin’s need the financial help to raise the 8 children, and to have any income left over. I understand the extremes that they undertook to ensure that their kids would be guaranteed absolute needs. But there is so much more damage that the media is causing here.

A friend of mine stated about this Yahoo headline and the show

“What is wrong with them [Yahoo]. That doesn’t help anyone. It just gets more people into their business, running around and jumping to conclusions everytime they do anything. If either of them walk into a store and ask for directions, and walk out with someone to show them where to go – there go the cameras and gossip about being up to no good.

And you know, when was the last time that they [Gosselin’s] had time together? I have never seen a show where the company [producing the show] say ‘Hey, why don’t you too just go off for a dinner or on a little weekend trip on us so you can have time to be together and alone.’ I have never seen that. There is always a camera on them. It’s not healthy.”

And there you have it. The family of sextuplets stated directly to Robin Roberts how they needed to get away from the reality cameras to save their marriage – which is not completely fixed years after the fact. My friend sees it. I think you my readers see it. Robin Roberts sees it I think, and thus the nature of her on-air discussion.

But Yahoo wants to exploit the Gosselin’s. It wants to take a serious question and turn it into tabloid fodder. Did the headline garner my attention? Yes. But it is my job to comment on the media and celebrity news. Beyond that it only furthered my anger. Especially as Yahoo actively sought to warp the situation. And think, if Yahoo will go this far with its reputation how far will a tabloid go?

I say again that the news media needs to get their noses out of this family’s lives. There is no positive in what is being done. There is no need for the virtual yellow journalism here.

If Jon and Kate Gosselin do split, I blame the media as much as the show and the pressure of so many children. In fact I blame the media and reality television more. The Gosselin’s deserve better, but paparazzi and ratings whores just won’t let them get that. It truly is a shame.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Guitar Hero takes over television

I am sure all the gamers out there have heard this news already, but for anyone that missed this here we go. Reality television shows are here to stay, sadly, but over the past several years they have been dwindling in viewers. Shows like American Idol, Survivor and the ilk are all getting a bit old. So in a quest for television programming that requires the least effort, lowest cost, and about as much mental stimulation as sugar has nutrients a potential new craze is about to spring forward.

Guitar Hero.

Yep. The belief is that Activision will soon be announcing that the video gaming industry leading game will be hitting a television station real soon. And if that isn’t enough, expect to be able to buy tickets to watch a Guitar Hero concert in your local stadium/arena too.

Talk about the lowest common denominator. For people too lazy to actually purchase and/or play a Guitar Hero game, and too much of a couch potatoe to change a channel, the ability to watch a person play a game has now come. I can hear the Simon Cowell equivalent for this show berating someone for improperly mashing their fingers to a song that actually required talent and skill to perform in the first place.

I can’t wait until there are crowds of people screaming out ‘yellow, yellow, red, blue!’ Or better yet talk shows and pundits glibly chatting about the ‘skill’ and 'quality' of a Guitar Hero program. Probably will call the show ‘Are you a Hero?’

And I wonder what in the world the winner of this reality snore fest will receive? A trip to Disney? A box of band-aids? A spot in a television commercial for the umpteenth version of the Guitar Hero video game?

Seriously, the only thing I could imagine is that the aforementioned concert is their next option. But would you really want to pay top dollar to watch some kid mash a bunch of buttons to your favorite band? Think about it, you might pay some $40 dollars to watch someone, hopefully play correctly, a song you have on CD or a MP3 that you paid $5 for. And it isn’t even the originals you are watching.

Hell, you can go to a local bar and get more out of watching a cover band.

Do I hate reality television? Oh Yeah! Do I think that this idea is only good for the people least likely to reproduce? Our global genetic DNA pool would seriously be improved if that is the case. Do I think that if this show comes on, it’s only a matter of time before television hits the ultimate lowest common denominator of just flashing random colors on a screen? If they do, I bet the text votes will go to the color blue.

If this becomes a reality, I seriously fear for the human race. Honest.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tabloids not done with Jon & Kate Plus 8

Last week Jon Gosselin was the target of accusations of cheating. This week People has targeted Kate Gosseling. I expect that next week both will be accused by some tabloid of being swingers. And in short order stories of abuse of their 8 children will appear.

It's ludicrous. Not just because the stories appear to be completely fabricated and meritless, but because the tabloid media is building upon the fluff that it is hyping. And the damage of their actions seems to be inconsequential to the ratings and sales they hope to make of this family.

The price of fame these days seems to include the destruction of any semblance of normality and happiness. Paparazzi vultures circle the even quasi-famous, searching for a photo that can be taken to have duplicitous meanings. Tabloids exploit any action that might present even a hint of negativity.

I realize that 'reality television' is the new 15 minutes of fame. I recognize that tabloids are being hit in this economic struggle as much as any other media. But do we all really need to bask in the difficulties and hyped fantasies of failure of even the most obscure celebrities? Does anyone's life become enriched by pondering a photo of a celebrity doing something as normal as getting a ride home from a bar, encircled by text declaring it may be a sexual jaunt? Will any person's day become miraculously better because marital strife is decried to have occurred in the life of someone on tv?

Aren't we all better than that? Or have we sunk to a point where anyone who makes more money, or is more famous, than the average must be displayed with flaws and riddled with barbs of anger. Could the lowest common denominator of tabloids and television scraped so low that this is considered fair treatment and entertainment of the masses?

Look, if Jon and/or Kate are having difficulties they should be left alone to resolve them. It's not like the media does not have enough access to their daily lives. The small bit of privacy they have should remain theirs.

Better yet, I would love to hear from anyone in the tabloid industry, or the paparazzi, that is willing to explain the reason why we need to know these things about any entertainer. Why the potential destruction of a family is justified for ratings and sales. How the private lives of anyone is less important than the ability to infer disharmony and flaws projected to the masses. And if any of them do respond, I dare them to place their names on such a response.

Honestly, I don't expect them to answer. They are to cowardly, in my opinion, to dare face the masses with honesty or an explanation. Rather they would prefer to hide behind their business and cameras, maintaining their anonymity, and collecting money.

Still the largest blame might be best left to the masses themselves. Because if no one purchased the trash they produce, out of necessity it would have to end.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Jon and Kate plus 8 - the tabloids are the real problem

What is it with the tabloids? Are they getting in too much trouble with the paparazzi circling stars like vultures that they now are after reality tv stars? And what cost does this all have?

Case in point is the drama surrounding Jon and Kate plus 8 stars Jon and Kate Gosselin. They are the parents of 8 children, and have a television show that highlights their daily tribulations in taking care of their little troop. I’ve seen the show from time to time, it’s not great television but it does surpass most of the ‘reality’ television fare out there.

The Gosselin’s are not a perfect couple. They get tired, stressed, and annoyed. Just like parents of far fewer kids. And like every other parent in the world, they occasionally look forward to having time away from the kids. But they are good parents in a good marriage, from what can be observed.

That of course is motivation enough for the paparazzi and the tabloids. Any successful relationship seems to be the fodder of their ire. And now they are stirring a hornet’s nest of trouble.

If you haven’t heard, recently Jon was photographed in a car with a woman other than his wife. He was exiting a bar. His wife Kate was on a promotional tour for her book at the time.

Does that sound like a scandal? That he was out cheating on his wife? To the tabloids it does. Though all the people involved insist that it was merely a night out away from the kids with a friend. Still they twisted the wording and laid down accusations all the same.

Of course this has lead to the usual paid dirt. You know, when someone related to or familiar with someone in this situation sell a story to the tabloids that backs up or infers truth on some part of the paparazzi driven drivel. You would be amazed what some people will do for $10,000 (a common amount paid for such “inside” information), or just a few moments of fame.

But what is the ramification of all this? Has anyone at these tabloids stopped for one moment and thought how this could affect the 8 children?

I mean the best thing that a tabloid could have happen is that they instigate a marital fight. They put undue pressure on the already difficult task of raising so many children, and hope that something pops. And if it does the paparazzi will be there in droves to film every second of it.

But what if this tabloid driven version of a married guy going out for a drink with a friend, who happens to be a woman, in a public place by the way leads to divorce? Neither of the parents are millionaires or even rich (8 kids will do that I am sure). Life for either Jon or Kate will instantly become more difficult.

But the real losers will be the young children. None are old enough to understand divorce. Hell, grown kids often don’t understand it. What kind of trauma might this mean for 8 innocents, still learning the basic building blocks of life.

Maybe it’s just me, but the private lives of entertainers and celebrities are private. Paparazzi and tabloids are a poison to the lives of everyone they touch or go after. There is no justification for what they do, nor any way to determine the damage they create in their wake of going for the photo.

Maybe Jon is innocent. Maybe he is not. But no matter which is the case, having the lesser part of the national news media (if such a thing exists) exacerbating the situation makes it all worse.

No child deserves this. And even if I am the only one to think so, I will say that the media needs to back off. Some things aren’t worth a minor bump in ratings or an extra couple of dollars in profit.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

If Someone's Gotta Go, it should be the producers of the show

With television programs you usually have the choice of bottom of the barrel, idiotic, brazen, a complete copy, or boring. Since the advent of cable television programming this has widened a bit to the sophomoric, the original, the good, and the blatantly wild/violent. On rare occasion, mostly by accident, we even sometimes get a great show. But rarely is an idea on cable or broadcast television so far into bad taste as what I have heard is now in production.

Fox Network is creating a new reality television program, yes yet another one. But this on has a twist. A bitter hemlock sort of twist. The show, made with Endemol USA – responsible for Fear Factor and Deal or No Deal – is called Someone’s Gotta Go. There is your first clue how bad the taste in your mouth will be.

Someone’s Gotta Go is the opposite of the Apprentice. The premise is that a small company of some 15 – 20 employees, cannot continue to keep everyone in this economy. So the books are opened up, co-workers gather and likely plot to isolate an employee, and then a vote commences. The winner of the vote gets fired.

No joke. No punchline. They are now part of the expansive number of people on unemployment in this nation. And you get to watch this happen on national tv.

Now there is one consolation for the loser. They will receive an undisclosed severance pay. It is unclear, but likely, that the television show will pay that severance.

But that hardly makes up for the loss of a job, the search for a future position, and the embarrassment of the worker and/or their family. I mean what is that person to do? Walk into an interview and be recognized as the guy (or gal) who everyone at their old job said goofed off and thus was fired. Well that really will help the resume.

What about the family of that former employee? Imagine the kid that has to go to school with the stigma that their parent was so incoherent that they lost their job on national tv the day before. Kids would never use that public display of incompetence to pick on someone. Plus the fame of being a loser and useless is just the kind of self-esteem building experience that every kid, or adult for that matter, needs in a time of economic crisis the likes of which most have never seen before.

I can’t understand one aspect of this show that is entertaining, fun, family-oriented, or positive. If you can, please do share that with me.

I understand that all good ideas seem to have dried up in Hollywood. I understand that a ‘reality’ program is the most cost-effective way to keep couch potatoes vegetative for an hour at a time. But where is the decency. Where is the respect for another human being?

And if this show, somehow, becomes better than the bottom of the Neilsen ratings what comes next? A show about kids dropping out of school? A show following the homeless begging? A show where someone gets to lose all their money – oh wait, that’s the Obama economic plan.

Look, I understand that television today is all about the lowest common denominator. That the cheapest, fastest television programming is the first line of approach. Still there has to be some modicum of quality and sensitivity involved. Or have we all just gotten to the point where when we are given sand we will drink it like water?

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The worst show to ever be on television

Well this is what you learn if you are on the net at 1:30am. A list of the worst television shows ever. It won’t change your life but it will entertain you a bit to know that there are worse things you could have been watching.

I am no fan of most of the television shows on broadcast television these days. The attempt to find the lowest common denominator in programming overwhelmed by ability to vegetate right about the time that “reality” television took hold – specifically Survivor and American Idol. Call me a purist, but I enjoy a show that requires someone to have made a thought at some point past the title.

That said I had to look over this list and see if they had my all-time (in my lifetime so far) worst television show. This program was so bad that it died a quick death. Luckily most people were spared the chance to see it. And it was the first clue of the demise of the network that spawned it. I won’t give any more clues yet.

Shows in the list from the Chicago Tribune include:

    My Mother the car
    Mr. T and Tina
    The Ropers
    Joanie Loves Chachi
    Cop Rock
    The Jerry Springer Show
    The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer

The last of which somehow had a video of it preserved. Hopefully its video is a warning to Hollywood executives of programming never to dare try again.

I truly think that Kenneth Chi McBride was lied to about what the show would be like. I am sure he will forever be upset that I have found and presented this piece of trash from the depths of TV hell he hoped it was securely locked in. But I forgive him. I just hope he got paid a lot for this.

Still the worst show I have ever seen (besides and maybe slightly worse than the mind-numbing American Idol), which also made the list, has to be …

Homeboys in Space

Aired on the thankfully defunct UPN Network, the title was the first clue on how bad this show was. Darryl M. Bell should have pimped slapped his agent for this one. Considering he has had little work since tells you how badly it affects those that watch the program.

To protect the minds of my readers I have found the intro to the program, and that alone. I also really did not want to relive the pain and revulsion of the full episodes, so I didn’t search harder to see if more is out on the web. You’ll thank me for that.

But like any list everyone might recall something they consider worse. Though I don’t know how.

What was the worst television show you have ever seen? And if you agree and saw Homeboys in Space, I know your pain.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

E Entertainment joins in the negative portrayal of Blacks - 7.18.2007.3

Some might have missed this huge news, but I want to help those gangsta rap fans out there keep up to date with one of the ‘stars’ of that genre. E! Entertainment has confirmed that they will be doing an as-yet-unnamed reality television show. The joy must be overflowing.

My sheer enthusiasm is only outpaced by my desire to bludgeon myself with a hammer to my head.

I’ll tell you why. As long-time readers are aware, I think reality programming is the ultimate form of crack delivered of television. Reality television programs, all of them, take the now traditional role of shutting down brain cells and elevates it to the point of leaving viewers on the same level of a catatonic individual. Seriously, watch one of those shows and ask someone to question you on what you are watching during the commercial. I would bet that 95% of people couldn’t give an answer. [I will note that like all things in nature there is one exception. That was the Black.White. program that was created by Ice Cube. It was a rare gem in a sea of sewage.]

Beyond the loss of grey matter induced by reality tv, there is the added insult of Snoop Dogg, Calvin C. Broadus Jr. I mean this is a great example of African Americans and a music entertainer. Mr. Broadus came to fame in 1993, just as music executives decided that rap music was no longer a fad and that gangsta rap was the only format that needed to be on airwaves. The combination has made Mr. Broadus millions, and record industry companies billions.

Snoop Dogg is slightly more than just a lucky find in gangsta rap, depending on how you define more. He was a member of the Crips gang, know for its drive-by shootings and drug sales. Snoop was arrested on drug dealing charges during his high school years and spent 3 years in prison. Inspiring isn’t it. Also at the time of his rise to fame, he was charged with murder – which the great Mr. Johnny Cochrane was able to get him acquitted from. Since that time Snoop Dogg, Calvin Broadus Jr., has been accused of or charged with rape, violent disorderly conduct (fighting at an airport with police involved), 2 drug and firearm possession charges, a concealed weapons charge and has been banned from entering 2 countries. All before he has reached 36.

It gets better. Snoop is an entrepreneur. Not satisfied with just being a rapper he has produced 2 X-rated films and admitted to being a pimp (from 2003-2004) though he was married at the time to his wife for at least 3 years.

By the way, Snoop in 2002 swore off of drugs and women. So he has failed to live up to his word [A man’s word being the defining characteristic of how the world views a person – at least that is how I was raised] on both counts multiple times. And that says nothing to his deeply intellectual definition of who is and is not a ‘ho’.

I say all of this because we need to have a reality tv show featuring Snoop Dogg so he can represent the daily life of African Americans to the world. [That was sarcasm by the way.] Have no doubt, across the globe people base their opinion of American Blacks on the media we export. From Japanese commercials that include calling blacks the N-words, to Russia where African Americans are considered ignorant, violent criminals, the media we have is what the world assumes is true. Rap music, music videos, Flava Flav, BET, Hot Ghetto Mess, and now the daily life of a criminal, lying, porn producing, philandering, one time allegded rapist/murderer, chulo (or alfons if you prefer), dad and youth football founder will be seen. Aren’t you proud?

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Vote who gets to die on 'reality' tv - 5.29.2007.1

What’s going on in the minds of some people? I can accept that my dislike of ‘reality’ television programs is not a universal feeling. Obviously it’s quite the minority of thought in the US and the world. I can live with that. But I thought American Idol and Fear factor were about as low as this would go. I was wrong.

There is a saying, ‘Never underestimate the idiocy of people’. I always have believed that. I don’t mean individuals are fools, but often crowds are. The need for the term mob mentality proves that clearly I think. That same mass mentality affects television programming as well. Thus we have had more insipid and low-brow shows year after year. Don’t get me wrong, low-brow can be funny and interesting – in small doses I think.

The reason I have shared these thoughts is because I feel that the bottom of the barrel just got a bit lower. Hard to believe but it has happened. We, as a species, have taken on step down on the collective ladder of life. This happened, in my humble opinion, as soon as someone pitched the idea of a ‘reality’ show where the winner gets an organ donation.

This is reality alright. It’s like the Running Man, or various depictions of the future where contestants that lose are killed. Only we won’t show anyone dying, yet. Best of all, the public gets to watch the equivalent of families begging for their loved ones life. In addition they get to vote for whichever catches their attention, for a small fee for the text message vote. Isn’t that entertaining.

No civilized nation would allow the buying of organs, they all have a lottery system for viable organs. Every year hundreds if not thousands per country in the world die because of lack of organ donations. Yet the thrill, apparently, of watching both a donor and their potential recipients die on television is something someone decided needed to get a greenlight. I’m sure it will be a rating coup. And nothing is more sad.

What is worse, that a life can be bought at a price or that it can be lost because of something as trivial as a text message vote? I have to wonder how wretched a person’s life must be to sit and see a show like this. Yes, it’s not on television now, but the concept is deplorable. It lowers the value of life to nothing.

The ramifications are immense as well. Think about it, children will watch this family programming and learn – as all children do by watching and emulating what they see – that one life is not worth what another is. That condemning someone to death (which may happen to the ‘contestants’ that don’t get the donation) is ok.

If this does gather viewers, and thus both promotes a follow-up program and inspires competitors to create similar television programs [maybe there can be a ‘reality’ competition for euthanasia?], how different is it than the crowds that gathered to watch a hanging or the guillotine from the dark ages. If we can accept winning a part of a person, how long until we accept winning the person? How long until someone gets a media company to back the sale of a person as a prize, bringing back slavery with a ‘fun, family friendly’ prime-time television format?

What corporate executive thought this was a good idea? Are public shareholders, if there are any, that demanding of a profit that this is the only option to improve the bottom line? That would be one hell of a shareholder meeting, or quarterly earnings report to hear. Somehow I don’t see the stock price of this corporation rising. Or at least I would hope not. But I have to remember ‘Never underestimate the idiocy of people’.

This is what I think, what do you think?

Oh, by the way. This program is not on American television, its on in the Netherlands. But if I didn’t mention it, and you didn’t check the link, did you envision a channel it would be on? Were you thinking of watching it?

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bob Marley, Stephen Colbert, & Armed and Cancelled

I am shocked and amazed. The magnitude of this event is inspiring. This may even herald a new trend in television programming. Yeah, right. So what am I almost gushing about? The latest bottom of the barrel scraping, Armed and Famous, has been canceled. This silly idea of a ‘reality’ program flopped, just as I thought it would. The Mayor of Muncie may have felt it was a good idea, a way to show off the police force but the ratings confirmed my thought that it was just stupid. Rather than “showing what they’re doing in the middle of the night…” (something that is better served by COPS in my opinion) it just was something to put people to sleep early in the night. Let hope the executives at CBS learn from this and stop with the ‘reality’ shows. I’m sure they can afford to put on a new television show, and please don’t make it another CSI spinoff.

Well as one Mayor has failed to win an audience for his town, another has lost his birthday. Yes, it’s true. Mayor of Oshawa, Mr. John Gray, can’t celebrate his birthday on March 20th because he will be busy celebrating Stephen Colbert Day instead. Fans of Mr. Colbert’s show and readers here may recall that a bet was made on a hockey game during an episode of the program. The Saginaw Spirit, the Ontario Hockey League team favored by Mr. Colbert due to its Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle mascot, beat the Oshawa Generals 5-4 guaranteeing the day of celebration in Mr. Colbert’s honor.

Now knowing Mr. Colbert, I am sure that there will be something special happening at that event. I would not be surprised to see him visit the city and join in the festivities. Either way, with the added press and interest of fans, it should be a fun time. I might even go up there to see what happens. If I can figure out where Oshawa is. What can I say, it’s in Canada and I’m a better-than-average-yet-geographically-challenged-American. [yes, another bad joke. Are there any comedy writers out there?]

Another trip worth taking will be on February 10th. On that day a concert celebrating singer Mr. Bob Marley will be performed at Nine Miles in Jamaica. The show will be a tribute to Mr. Marley, and the performers will be his sons – sans Ziggy. I wasn’t nearly old enough to go to a Bob Marley concert when he was alive, but his music conveys a feeling to me that it was something I would have loved.

I’m sure everyone has heard a song or several by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Most may not get the fact that Mr. Marley was highly political, and hopeful of world peace. The songs Buffalo Soldier, Wake Up Stand Up!, and many others are wonderful to listen to, but also hold far deeper meanings.

There was a Buffalo Soldier in the heart of America, Stolen from Africa, brought to America,
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival – from Buffalo Soldier

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time –from Redemption Song

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time – from Could You Be Loved

Look, how long (wo-o-o-o)
And the people they (wo-o-o-o) still can't see.
Why do they fight against the poor youth of today?
And without these youths, they would be gone All gone astray – from 400 Years

That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -
Me say war. – War

Don’t just hear the songs, listen to them. Mr. Marley did more than just entertain, he taught those who took a moment to look deeper. Entertainers like this are far too rare, sadly.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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