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?