Thursday, April 13, 2006

The TV Hate Continues

I was listening to NPR's technology podcast, to a segment about video downloading or somesuch. And at the end, the fossilized, snooty NPR woman just had to throw in something like, "Or everyone could just read a book." [chuckle, chuckle]

Hey, you know what, lady? Fuck you, too.

Shouldn't the NPR technology podcast be free from that kind of bullshit? It is, after all, the technology podcast. It's geared to people interested in technology. So her remark was guaranteed to offend 100% of the audience.

There was another segment recently on that podcast, one of those loathsome, self-indulgent audio essays by some author or poet you've never ever heard of. In this case, this guy's 1980's-era TV finally broke down. So he went to an electronics superstore, apparently for the first time ever, and someone mentioned red, yellow and white plugs and his pointy little head exploded.

It was all too much for what George Costanza would have called "the delicate genius."

At the end, what do you think happened? If you ever listen to NPR, you know: he went home with no TV, and settled back -- you guessed it -- with a good book. Oh, the smug sound of his voice. Because he's better than we are. Hey, pal, fuck you, too!

If NPR is going to keep giving me books-are-better-than-TV messages, I'm liable to start giving them my-middle-finger-is-better-than-pledges messages.

Besides, have you been to a bookstore lately? About 70% of the shit in there is stuff I'd rather die than read or be seen reading. Why is, say, "chick lit" automatically better than TV? Because it's in book form?

There's a legendary Chicago broadcaster named Steve Dahl. I remember he was once denied entry to a restaurant because he was wearing sneakers. On the air the next day, he wondered -- quite reasonably, to my mind -- why he couldn't go in wearing hundred-dollar sneakers, but someone could go in wearing eight-dollar shoes.

Similarly, why is Chicken Soup for Cheese Movers or The O'Reilly Factor for Kids or Love's Fury Torn Asunder automatically "better" than Lost or The Simpsons?

Isn't there room in a healthy intellectual diet for someone to enjoy good books and good television, and not have to be ashamed of the latter? Someone on NPR's The Business actually referred to TV as "the idiot box." In 2006. I swear to God.

How many Americans watch TV? Why do some think we still have to be ashamed of it?


Sydelle Pearl said...

I guess NPR's message is to throw out your radios to make room for more books.

norm said...

I don't get the snobbery of one media over another.
A story is good or not, and should be judged by the content of it's character, not the method of it's delivery.

But if you really want to talk about a bastard form of entertainment, try comic books.
Millions of people will watch Spiderman do his spider thing on the big screen, but a comic book with the exact same subject matter is so far beneath contempt that it's not even worth a second thought.

Michael Markowitz said...

Norm, I totally get your point. But the exception is Hollywood. If I wrote a novel, the first thing I would do is find a talented artist to turn it into a "graphic" one... It would triple the price a studio would pay for the rights, and quadruple the chances Entertainment Weekly would give it a B or better.

And both Norm and Sydelle, you're right about media snobbery. They walk on dangerous ground.

norm said...

Once again, you're absolutely right.
In fact, these days the only reason comics exist is because of their relationship to film.
In a way it's cool. Comics are kind of a way to focus test ideas and/or a way to do a trial run of a property in a less expensive visual medium.

Michael Markowitz said...

That's a great way to put it. Instead of pitching a movie, you can actually prove your idea would sell by charging the public for your storyboards ;-)

norm said...