Thursday, July 20, 2006


If I Ran the Media...

I’m way too cranky from the heat to put together something thoughtful and wry, but some bullets of snark are well within range. And since it would be professionally unwise to train my sniper fire where I work, I’ll pick on a big, dumb, slow-moving target. If I Ran The Media…

I’d pass a rule banning reporters from ending stories by saying “one thing’s for sure…”

I’d also pass a rule that they can’t go ‘live’ to a reporter who has nothing to say about the story at hand. (“we don’t know yet exactly what happened…” Report when you do.)

Am I the only one tired of the ‘crawl’ at the bottom of the screen?

How about some actual, honest-to-goodness data checking? When, say, two parties make empirical claims, how about actually testing them against some %&#*($# empirical evidence?

Context, context, context. Distressingly, only The Daily Show even attempts this, and they do it mostly to set up jokes. Instead of just jumping into “violence erupted again today in the Middle East” (the AP has a macro for that phrase), set up the story with a few minutes of thumbnail background. Yes, it would require fewer stories per hour and some actual *$#%*&#% research, but at least we’d have a clue what was going on. Hell, maybe after the story you could have academic experts with different perspectives offer interpretations without cutting each other off. The experts could be different for each issue, since each issue has its own context.

Move Robin Meade to prime time. I’m not made of stone, people…

As far as entertainment goes…

Enough of the forensics shows. Part of me worries that we’re offering criminals free tutorials on how to get away with stuff.

More animation! I’ve noticed that the likelihood of a show not sucking is much higher if it’s animated: Dr. Katz (now on DVD!), The Critic, Drawn Together, Family Guy, South Park, American Dad, Robot Chicken, and, of course, The Simpsons. Compare to, say, According to Jim. I mean, please.

Memo to PBS: No more Peter, Paul, and Mary. So very, very tired.

How about hiring some actresses larger than size two, and having them play attractive characters? Romantic leads, not sidekicks. In the real world, many attractive women are larger than size two. And let’s be done with plots like “Heather Graham can’t find a guy.” Puh-leeze.

Explosions are boring.

I shudder to think what future anthropologists will make of Fear Factor.

Why are characters in comedies always unrealistically wealthy? (This is especially true of the attractive-twentysomething-singles-in-the-city comedies.) How about some comedies based on the sheer dreariness of sucky, low-paying jobs? The Office suggests that it can be done, and of course Roseanne had a good run. (I recently saw Must Love Dogs, and couldn’t get past the economics of it. Struggling grad student drives beemer convertible with leather seats? Struggling soulful divorced guy hand-carves rowing sculls out of teak, doesn’t sell any, and lives in fabulous loft? Give. Me. A. Break.) How about no more comedies based on working at magazines or tv shows until we get some based on working at Wal-Mart or temping? Hell, temping lends itself, since the workplace could change every few episodes. The Adventures of Supertemp, starring, say, Linda Cardellini. It practically writes itself.

Does anyone else remember the beloved-but-mostly-unwatched 90’s show Homicide? Do you remember the guy who played evil smooth drug dealer Luther Mahoney? Get that guy back on tv. He had the Kevin Spacey-ish gift of giving you the creeps just by standing there. Great villain.

Kudos to whomever titled Snakes on a Plane. I like titles that tell you what the movie is about. In that case, I’m guessing it’s about snakes on a plane.

How about a show or movie with Italian-American characters who aren’t involved in crime or restaurants?

A realistic portrayal of academia might be nice.

What would you do if you ran the media?

The Education of Max Bickford was pretty good for academia. It also got cancelled. I'd add to your list: no more shows with overweight guys married to size 2 women. I've maybe seen this once in real life. Generally couples tend to be about the same girth.

Also, more cowbell.
I'd ban Katie Couric from asking "how did this tragedy make you feel?" I'M DEVASTATED, YOU TWIT!" Should be the answer.

I’d also ban the talking head, five minute political debates on the morning shows where the interviewer allows each to yell over and interrupt the other. Nothing gets accomplished except giving be a headache before 7:30 AM.
Memo to PBS: No more Peter, Paul, and Mary. So very, very tired.
Consider yourself lucky! I live in a verrry old demographic, and except for the few national programs and a few (very good) local programs, all the filler is Laurence Welk.

I'd add to your list: no more shows with overweight guys married to size 2 women.
Athletes wouldn't be allowed to talk after the game. Of course you lost because the other person scored more often than you did... yea, it is called math.

Also, any televised college sports would be required to list the following statistics about a player, 1) major, 2) GPA, 3) expected graduation date (not when they run out of eligibility...) total number of credits earned would suffice.
"Enough of the forensic shows. Part of me worries that we're offering criminals free tutorials..."

I'm more concerned with the jury members who think that forensics labs are really that glossy, not-over-worked, and infallable.

I third (or fourth) the no-more-size-twos. Although I think they're size zeros now.

And I'd like more smart people that aren't there to be made fun of, a la Fraiser.
Animation? Please... I like Futurama, but seriously... let's avoid the false-dichotomies...

Try these...

Family Guy vs Providence?
Dr Katz vs Numbers?
Futurama vs Star Gate?(okay, a draw here...)

There are lots of high quality dramas that aren't purile (read: Not Family Guy--Peter is just vulgar...) and actually cause the audience to think.
How much do I hate pledge week on PBS? They take off all the shows we like to watch, like Nova, Nature, and Frontline, and replace them with endless snooze fests of aging 50s and 60s musical reunions and The Lord of the F'in Dance. Ugh.

I wish that the news channels would show actual news stories, instead of endless speculation by anchors, talking heads, and a studio audience about the single, designated hot news story of the day.

The crawl is indeed pointless.

A lot of the negative changes in 24 hour news seem to have occurred immediately post 9/11, when there really was only one news story that people wanted to know about. Unfortunately, the networks don't seem to have any interest in returning to the practice of reporting, as opposed to speculating and schnawing.

I am sick of seeing New York apartments the size of Belgium. Of course, most New York apartments that I've been in could hardly fit a Handycam, much less an actual TV camera (people used to comment on the spaciousness of our bedroom, which was so large that there was actually enough space on one side of our double bed to squeeze in a nightstand).

A few very specific things I would do if I ran the media:

1. Commission new Farscapes.
2. Throw a lot of money at Joss Whedon to make a new series (or to resurrect Firefly if that's what he wants), which I would show in the order it was supposed to be in.
3. Put Star Trek out of its misery. The franchise is dead, dead, dead.

Laura: if you want to see overweight guys married to really skinny women, I suggest a trip to Long Island or New Jersey. Sadly, the archetype does exist.
God, I miss "Homicide."

I could also live without the news stories where they talk to the cousin of a friend whose brother's niece is trying to get out of Lebanon. . .
Family Guy is vastly superior to Providence. Providence was sappy and silly, and I never got the cult of Melina Kakandkfgahda whatever. I liked Paula Cale better -- whatever happened to her?

Numbers? Never heard of it.

Actually, I thought Futurama an exception to my superiority-of-animation thesis. No accounting for taste, I guess.

LOVE the Katie Couric line!

The overweight-guys-with-size-2 women thing: again, According to Jim leaps to mind. Jim Belushi with Courtney Thorne-Smith? Uh-huh. (Admittedly, Family Guy does this, too, but it's part of the joke.)

Law and Order has had a good run, but it's time to let go.

And yes, more cowbell. Absolutely.
If I ran the media, there'd be no more shows where forty-something women play the grandmothers of sixty-something men who're romantically involved with recent high-school graduates.

If I ran the media, they'd not be allowed to use terms such as "legion", "decimate" or "rampant" without at least one or two qualifying numbers that support their argument. When 1 out of 55 consitutes a legion, I'm outta here!
The best thing about Snakes on a Plane is that the movie is that Samuel L. Jackson only agreed to remain in the movie as long as the title didn't change. When they wanted to change the title to Pacific Air Flight 121, Jackson threatened to quit unless it was changed back to Snakes on a Plane. See Wikipedia.
How about the weather before any of the rest news on locals? Also, less of the shootings that happened locally. ok. just no local news. At least here anyways, it sucks.

More brit coms on PBS, and how about something *not* about singles hooking up. How can I relate to that? honestly I can't think of a sit com--animated or otherwise that's really funny.
and I fifth the no size 2 or 0. Let's start at 8.
How could you have missed numbers? A show about the application of what amounts to Operations Research to FBI problems, helping the Bureau solve what appear to be insolveable cases, through the application of various mathematical theories--all while making the show interesting to the average viewer... it's great! It has even encouraged younger viewers to once again consider math and science as a career.

Heck, I didn't even mention the outstanding drama "Unit" or "E Ring." They aren't exactly challenging viewers to reconsider the academy for a profession, but they certainly are well done, and don't rely on vulgarities the way so many of these animations do.

I used to like Family Guy, but so much of their show relies on lude and rude comments (outstripping even Al Bundy in this regard) that I found it unbearable. Now, the scenes with Stewie... those are funny, and somewhat thoughtful. I guess it comes down to my opinion that Family Guy would be an OK show, without... well, the family guy (Peter).

As you say--no accounting for taste.
No overweight guys married to supermodels. I couldn't agree more. A woman like Courtney Thorne Smith wouldn't STEP on a guy like Jim Belushi in real life, much less marry him and bear his children. I mean, like, let's get real.
Ceresina wrote: "And I'd like more smart people that aren't there to be made fun of, a la Frasier."

Again, might I suggest Numbers? Friday nights... (okay, actually, it's "Numb3rs"
As Imperial Media Overlord, heed my decrees:

--News will receive coverage commensurate with its importance to people's lives. A teenager disappearing on vacation would merit mention on her hometown's local news, not CNN. Major issues will not be ignored for lack of "sexiness." Major national and international news will not be shunted aside for "pretty white girls in trouble" pseudo-news. Ratings be damned.

--Should there be a gap in the news, the twenty-four hour news cycle will not "manufacture" stories out of thin air. The news channels will have investigative pieces kept in reserve to run on slow news days. Lacking those, reruns of Sanford and Son (or similiar shows) will be shown with a crawl underneath reading, "No Big News Today."

--Rachael Ray's voice will be overdubbed by someone less irritating.

--There is a sitcom starring Sara Rue, a non-size-two woman as the lead. This show is entitled Less Than Perfect. The programming genius who came up with that title will be reassigned to the network commissary. Sir, turn in your laptop and meet your "fry-o-lator."

--Any and all television reporters who ask anyone "how do you feel" about damn near anything will be fired. I trust the viewing audience to know how a grieving mother or victorious athlete feels.

--ProTools and other vocal-assistance software packages are banned from my record labels. Starlets and teeny heartthrobs are allowed to cut as many albums as they want, but the singing must be unaided. If you can't sing, your album will reflect it. Consider this before heading to the studio.

--Pundit shows will be shown on tape-delay. After taping, the shows will be run through fact-checkers. Any and all inaccuracies by hosts or guests will be corrected by freeze-framing the show and blaring out a loud honk. While the show is frozen, a narrator's voice will correct the misstatement. Then the show will resume. (To avoid mayhem, this will only be done for empirical facts, not matters of opinion.)

--Arrested Development would be back on the air for as long as the creators want it.
1. Double down on the Joss Wheedon suggestion.
2. Numb3rs was above average, but I lost interest as they seemed to drift toward typical TV formulas.
3. The new Battlestar Galactica, on the other hand, has been consistently surprising and interesting.
4. What, are they doing news on TV now? I'd give that a try, but I get all the news I need from the net.
Oh yes, two thumbs up AND a 5 stars to the new Battlestar Galactica. And Kudos to the Director's podcasts, designed to be watched with the show... (Great, when you have a DVR!)

They are insightful, they tackle controversial topics, and while you hear that their politics are (not surprisingly) typical hollywood left, they are gaining a respect for the situations that have resulted in people having alternative perspectives.

It's been a LONG wait for the season to restart! (But the new Doctor Who was a sufficient salve!)
I, too, hate the media because I hate censorship in any form. I have become quite fond of satellite radio, as a result (if you care to read my thoughts about Howard Stern, check out my blog at

I also hate those quick bite political shows where everyone shouts over everyone else, and I never have a clue what they are talking about.

I agree with the whole Peter, Paul, and Mary gig, too. Isn't there anyone else out there?
I'd bring back Homicide, that's for sure...
Professor, I don't think that Battlestar Galactica reflects Hollywood Left politics, certainly not consistently. Rather, it hops around, without seeming to take sides, which is why it remains so engaging. It's take on faith, for example, has been particularly unusual and not the conventional Hollywood approach (especially in the first season).

For all its success as a cable show, I suspect that it couldn't get enough of an audience to satisfy the overlords of the networks. Which tells us something.
The "crawl" at the bottom of the screen makes me want to rip my eyeballs out!
Lewis Black actually told CNN on camera to take the crawl off the screen while he was being interviewed. If you try to watch the clip that is linked, if you don't like Lewis Black in general, you'll want to forward to about 4:28 in the clip. It's a very freeing moment.
About the realistic portrayal of academia: what's the deal with all these shows about high school kids who are best buddies with the principal??? As my little brother would say, "OK, that's enough of that!"

And puh-lease, give drama shows some new names before everything on television is named either "Law and Order" or "CSI." I'm at the point where I can't tell the different Law and Orders apart!
I'm a journalism professor, and I tell my students they if they have to ask someone how he/she feels about a tragedy he/she has just suffered, they should consider another profession. They know how the person feels. The audience knows how the person feels. Don't waste time and insult everyone's intelligence. Find worthwhile questions, or don't do the interview.

Also, please don't forget the plump husband/skinny wife combo on "King of Queens," which, come to think of it, does show a working class, blue collar family.
Equality: I agree that it is quite a balanced show. I was referring to their podcast where they make it clear that they are leftists... but talk about how they work for balance.
No need to get into specifics, but how about trying something new once in awhile?

I think part of the reason animation works so well is they don't think they can get away with the same tired crap over and over.

Last but not least, if you liked Homicide, try HBO's The Wire. Simply the best show on television in my lifetime.

Oh, and ban the blackhearted phony Katie Couric forever.

1. Bring back Arrested Development.
2. Get rid of The View.
3. Tell HBO not to have year-long spaces between seasons of its shows.
4. Create a black television show that 's not a) a comedy set in the 'hood or b) a comedy about "hey, we're the only black people in the white neighborhood, so let's constantly make jokes about that"
5. Ditto on the size 2 woman-overweight man pairing. Give me a break.
6. Just get rid of the WB in its entirety.
7. Same for Good Morning America, Today, etc.
1. Get rid of the attractive blonde female who happens to be very dim.
2. Stop airing fast food commercials that make claims of using only the "freshest ingredients". We know you're lying.
3. Stop showing close-ups of nasty, greasy fast food. It isn't appetizing.
4. No more sex scenes that cut straight to the climax without any sense of foreplay. This is only appears realistic to virgins enrolled in Bible study groups.
5. Ban female newscasters from wearing prinary colored blazers. It makes me doubt the timeliness of the broadcast.
6. Get rid of the AP. I have yet to read an accurate, relevant, or well written news blurb from them.
7. Exterminate FOX.
8. No more "special" episodes about characters getting pregnant. I want to watch them walk into an abortion clinic for once and then throw themselves a party.
9. Damn straight we need more cowbell!
10. Broadcast actual BBC shows instead of vapid americanized version. PLEASE.

Futurama is being brought back!
nice post love it

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