Sunday, February 08, 2009

Entertainment's First Casualties

I watch too much tv. There I said it. I feel like I should be in front of a room of people saying...hi my name is Sqt and I watch too much tv. On the other hand, I don't necessarily watch that many shows. The television is, much of the time, nothing more than background noise. I've become so accustomed to it that I will turn it on while I type away on my computer. I often don't even turn it to any particular channel. But the TV is a window to the wider world isn't it? Though it isn't as influential as it used to be, with the advent of the Internet and all. The reason I'm musing over the television and it's influence on society is because I'm wondering if we'll start seeing some major shifts in what is considered entertainment soon. Recent news articles are starting to point out that advertising revenue is significantly down this year, and poised to get worse. This is certainly no shock since virtually every industry has been effected by the economic downturn. I'm only surprised that it has taken this long to hit the entertainment industry in a noticeable way. The obvious outcome of an advertising cutback is that advertisers are going to be more choosy about where they spend their money. I hope that means less "reality tv." I seriously abhor almost all reality-tv-- except "Deadliest Catch." So I'm a hypocrite. But seriously, if I have to make a prediction, I think "reality-tv", at least of a certain type, is going to slowly but surely make an exit. I say this because I think "reality-tv" is a direct result of all the excesses in recent years (decades?). Take the tv show Cribs for example. MTV started airing "Cribs" all the way back in 2000. It was a fun show for awhile-- a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous-- like the old show with Robin Leach (the original "Cribs"). But after awhile the novelty wears off and you begin to muse on the strangeness of the fact that a pro-skateboarder (and member of the "Jackass" cast) can make such obscene amounts of money that they can paint a Lamborghini purple and deliberately attempt to wreck it just for fun. Yeah, I wish I had over $200k to throw away. Must be nice. The parade of rappers, athletes, rock-stars and other people I never heard of kind of turns into a blur after awhile. I haven't watched the show in years, but I'm not sure it matters. After you see one indoor basketball court in someone's home, you've seen them all. If it were only "Cribs" I really wouldn't have too much to complain about. But it seems as if we have the opportunity to see into the lives of every spoiled, dysfunctional celebrity there is. I know about these shows because I watch "The Soup." Well, that and I have a husband whose guilty pleasure shows include stuff like The Surreal Life and The Two Coreys. I wish I was kidding. The reason all of this is swirling around in my brain right now is because I think this stuff is going to seem beyond obnoxious to people as we try to stay afloat in a rough economy. As I was thinking about all of this I browsed some articles on Depression Era entertainment. Not that I think we're heading for another Great Depression (knock wood! knock wood!). But it's interesting to look back at what was popular during that intense economic downturn. It came right on the heels of the Roaring Twenties-- a time of great excess like we saw with the last housing boom. Predictably entertainment during The Depression was escapist in nature, featuring musicals, "screwball" comedies, gangster films-- and oddly-- movies about the wealthy. Come again? Well, to be more specific, movies about the rich losing all of their money. Okay, that makes more sense. Surely you see where I'm going with this. As our economy continues to contract I think we're going to see a lot of excess shaken out. I've already heard that home builders are downsizing the new homes being built-- the age of the McMansion is probably over for awhile. I've also heard that the absolute symbol of useless excess-- the Hummer, is probably going the way of the dinosaur. So what is going to be superfluous in the entertainment industry? I think, and I sincerely hope, the first casualty is going to be the "reality" show. Then I think the shows that feature characters acting like the Paris Hiltons of the world will be the next to go. I hear a show called "Gossip Girl" is particularly asinine, but I haven't seen it-- I predict it will be that kind of show that follows the "reality" shows into the scrap heap. Anything that represents the spoiled-brat mentality that has so permeated our so-called entertainment has got to go. What do you think? Is it too much to hope for?


DesLily said...

you won't get any arguements from me!

comedies and feel good movies will be more popular now.. at least I would think so.

Asara Dragoness said...

I think this sounds completely logical.

Can "My Super Sweet 16" or whatever that show is go too?


T.D. Newton said...

Yes, frankly, any non-music show that gets aired on MTV can lovingly accept an axe between the eyes. Then again, it might put Joel McHale out of a day job... (I also love The Soup!)

Actually, I do want to comment on the show Gossip Girl that you brought up. I've seen the first season and, aside from a few complaints about the believability of the show (sickeningly rich NYC high school kids getting into nightclubs and getting totally trashed on booze, having ridiculous amounts of sex, etc), I can say that the acting is done very well. It's actually based on a series of novels (which I have not read) and most definitely not a "reality" show even aside from the premise. It's not a "bad" show like Paris Hilton's New BFF is a bad show.

Also, I am very surprised that you did not mention The Hills once in this little tirade... that show actually does make me feel nauseated.

SQT said...


That's the one where the kids have super extravagant birthday parties right? That's EXACTLY what I'm talking about.


"Little tirade?" Really? You need to see me when I really get annoyed about something.

I mentioned "Gossip Girl" in the context that it wasn't a reality show, but rather a show that reflected the lack of values present in shows like "Cribs" where every young, pretty adolescent pseudo celebrity thinks it's their right to be spoiled rotten.

"The Hills" almost seemed too obvious to me. Plus, I've never watched that one either. Even the clips on "The Soup" are too vapid for words.

T.D. Newton said...

I only used tirade because it's a fun word to use. Sort of like "seldom," which rarely gets used in common conversation. I meant it in the most respectful way, of course.

I've never liked "Cribs," even when it was in its heyday, so I am 100% with you on this. I just think "Gossip Girl," as a fictional television show, has merit with good acting and an original story, even if the extravagant and impossible lifestyles of NYC teens does get on my nerves. Maybe I subconsciously treat it like Urban Fantasy hahaha.

"The Hills" and "Keeping up with the Kardashians" are the two shows on TV right now that confuse me the most in regard to how they got made. Basically, the people on these shows are "famous" simply because they are "famous," and that makes no sense to me at all. Then again, I like to be learning things with my time, and I don't see how I can learn anything from most reality shows other than how to be an immature tantrum-throwing jerk.

SQT said...


No worries, I wasn't offended.

I'll have to leave the "Gossip Girl" judgement up to you. The ads didn't make it seem interesting to me, but if you say the acting is good-- I'll take your word on it.

The whole Paris Hilton/Kim Kardashian thing is baffling. I never understood the fame for fame's sake thing. I think the public is going to kick that stuff to the curb first.

T.D. Newton said...

There are both better and worse ways to spend your time, of course.

Actually, I think the entertainment rags that give Paris and Kim all their press are going to get more a boost in this type of economy (though I wish it weren't so). People need that escapism, perhaps? They turn to entertainment to keep their mind off their own problems, and Paris Hilton is kind of a big distraction.

Maria said...

I will be the next in line to cheer if/when they decide to cut down on those stupid reality shows...

SQT said...


That is a very interesting point. People will want escapism-- it's just the form that may change. I hope people will not choose to spend their money on Paris Hilton "news," but there's no accounting for taste.

Charles Gramlich said...

Most TV about TV and celebrities can go if you ask me.

SQT said...

I totally agree Charles. I do watch too much but I'm kind of a news junkie. I don't watch much series television anymore except for "Battlestar Galactica." I love that show. But virtually all reality tv could disappear tomorrow and I wouldn't mind.

daydream said...

Tv sounded like a good idea and it was a great way to explore the world. Observe the past tense. I seriously don't watch TV at all. If I hear something is good I hook up with the net and get on my computer. I watch only Music Chanels or Discovery if I have to watch TV and occassionally movies as well.

Reality TV should go, commercials should go, talk shows should go. The Oprah cult is driving me nuts and I am not even in the US. A lot of things can be done to restore quality to TV. The way I remember kids chanels like Cartoon Network is not what I see now and even discovery chanel is all hyped on these chop shops and car pimping shows, which is all about how to use the diminishing resources on Earth, so that your car has spiky things, toilets and screens in them.

I get the point that these things work as escapism, but seriously in this time and age I think we oughta hang on those brain cells.

Virginia Lady said...

From your blog to the network exec's ears. I am desperately waiting for the end of reality shows, particulary ones like Wife Swap and Supernanny. It's like Jerry Springer for the new century.