In this day and age, getting people to agree on anything is an achievement, but there can be no doubt that television changed the world. Even people who make a point of not owning one can’t deny that. The television set was, quite simply, one of the most revolutionary inventions of the twentieth century. It made things like the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Princess Diana’s funeral and the attacks on September 11th 2001 global events…
I take no issue with all that (even though, one could argue, that the live coverage of the riots across Britain in August served to exacerbate the trouble more than anything). My beef in lies within the gumph that falls between these occurrences.
A common argument online is the fact that television tends to cater toward the lowest common denominator (thick people, if any of you are reading this). That’s a bit unfair really, but fuck it, here’s some ways that they do:
Recapping what’s happened every ten minutes
Anything that is scheduled for viewing during the day or that has advert breaks and a narrator can be guilty of this. The main culprits tend to be about buying, renovating or building houses. You know how it goes:
At the start of the programme we are introduced to matey-boy and his missus who are looking to do one of the previously mentioned things. We then create some drama (that isn’t really drama, just something that most of us know as ‘life’) by revealing they have a time limit or restricted budget or something like that. It’s a lot of information to take on board so in case we missed anything, our narrator reminds us of matey-boy and his missus’ names, what they want to do and what could cause some problems, before- thankfully- giving us a breather. Cue advertisements…
The trouble is, adverts these days are so colourful and shiny and loud that by the time we get back to the programme, there’s a chance most of us will have forgotten everything that happened before the break. Fear not, the narrator kindly reminds us who matey-boy and his missus are, what they want to do and what could cause some problems. Phew! We’re back up to speed.
The show then progresses; properties are viewed, rotten floorboards are ripped up or foundations are laid before it’s information overload again and we are reminded of what we’ve just watched. The patronising cycle starts once more. Repeat until house is bought/sold/finished…
I’d be offended if my brain wasn’t dribbling out of my ears.
Constant reminders of who the ‘baddie’ is
Some people argue that one of the scariest things about serial killers is that the majority show no outward sign of being evil (I’d go with the whole killing people part as being scariest myself, but hey- each to their own). How many times have you heard the neighbour of some fucked-up cookie explaining to a journalist that everyone thought the bloke at number 14 was shy but polite and that no-one expected this? It would never happen if the world exhibited by the television was real. You’d be able to tell who was dodgy in an instant. After holding a conversation with someone, you’d just have to watch them. If they look to the side and smile slightly- they’re bad. Sorted… Unless you were trying to solve a mysterious crime, of course- then EVERYONE would look a bit suspicious at the end of conversations, just to keep you on your toes.
Yes, the various CSIs and your cheap friend NCIS- I’m talking to you. Forgetting the fact that they have forensic investigators doing the jobs of detectives as well as their own, the people who make these shows also thought it would be feasible to make their labs so high-tech that they feature technology that doesn’t actually exist. They don’t just make up technology though, they also give gadgets that we’re all familiar with features that don’t exist either. I’m not even going to go into how they failed to do even the most basic research on what a GUI is (hint: you’re looking at this on one).
It makes you wonder just how rude a wake up call the reality was for anyone who decided to study Forensic Science based on these shows…
The needless addition of sound effects
Now it’s the turn of nature documentaries and ‘comedy’ clip shows. I love me a nature doc (and this is not a dig at The Attenborough, his one’s rarely do this), but why does something that jumps have to go ‘boing’? Where’s the logic behind giving fast animals car-like ‘vroom’ sounds when they’re moving at speed? and why does a swooping bird have to go ‘whoosh’ or make a similar noise to a Spitfire? Are we that detached from reality that we can’t watch a lion bite off the face off a zebra without added ‘crunch’ noises?
The music can be just as annoying. Why footage of small fluffy things must be accompanied by a jaunty flute-based tune is beyond me. Does it enhance the cute?
I don’t think so.