Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I Fear For Our Future

1) I saw an ad for an upcoming television series (which will get no link at all) that I think presages the end of civilization (and possibly life) as we know it. The premises is thus -- a group of people participate in a gluttonous eating contest. As soon as they have overfilled their stomachs, they climb onto or into one of the many rides (popular in bars and carnivals) guaranteed to make one dizzy and sick. The last one to vomit wins $1000.

The show is called, oh so cleverly, "Hurl", and claims that I will want to watch even if I say I don't.

Wrong! I will not be watching this. I'm rather sorry I even know about it. I certainly don't think the money is much incentive and I can't imagine the kind of person who wants to watch this. I don't want to talk to that person. I'm sort of hoping the show's producers attract a law suit so others are discouraged

2) I've noticed a rise in another kind of show, of a slightly higher (apparently) mind set. Some young geeky guy is sent around with a camera crew to look at how common but generally little noted activities of human life are performed -- a big "how" sort of show. The latest addition to this particular category is "The Works" on History Channel. An earlier entry was "Build It Bigger" on Science Channel (which is chock full of similar shows -- check their main site page with shows like Hot Rocks and Cool Fuels - -the names are a giveaway).

On one hand, I rather enjoy these shows. I like peeking into how common, taken-for-granted items are manufactured. I like technology. This stuff really interests me.

On the other hand, I find I prefer the more impersonal shows of this type (like Modern Marvels and How It's Made) where a narrator more or less dispassionately explains what's going on. Those google eyed hosts getting all excited over big trucks and tall buildings seem to suck some of the intelligence out of the whole presentation. Yes, the building is tall. I get that. Tall buildings are, quite naturally, exciting to a lot of people. However, I'm not interested in the excitement. I'm interested in how it manages not to fall over. Can we get to that part? Can we see how they get concrete up 40 stories or more? That you, Mr. Google Eyed Host Guy, can't smooth a pad of concrete is Not Interesting. I don't care that you've never operated a bull dozer before and might run over a car in the parking lot. When I want to see cars destroyed, I watch Mythbusters. Get out of the way, please, and stop with the monkey noises.

Even my all time favorite, Mythbusters, has dumbed down its presentation. Whereas in the original pilots and the first couple of seasons the experiments were shown sequentially and consecutively, the last 3 or 4 seasons have moved to a cut-and-repeat format (I have no idea what the actual term for the editing style is). It's all aimed at the short attention span crowd, with the scene jumping back and forth between the various experiments, which means each segment has to be sandwiched between a rerun of something seen previously and something not yet seen. This means a significant portion of the run time which could be used to dig into the process or the science or something interesting is instead used to "catch up" those folks who forgot what was going on while waiting through the commercial break or cut to a different experiment.

I'm sad that even the smart shows are slowing down, as if they are trying to attract the audience watching Hurl.

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