Friday, December 17, 2004

Background Noise 

OK, so I'm putting three posts up right in a row after being mute since Monday. I guess I shouldn't be suprised, I often focus on one aspect of my life to the detriment of all the others. I always have room to improve.

I can't wait until tomorrow to rant about this because: a) I'm travelling to LA tomorrow and will be incogneto, and b) becuase I think I'm self-centered enough to believe that I may be part of a fundamental, generational change in entertainment habits.

TV is boooring!!!!

Well, duh, you say. It is referred to as the Idiot Box after all. My gripe is TV just ain't what she used to be. My inspiration comes from the verbose Caltechgirl, who launches into a justifiable tirade against the beast known as Daytime TV.

I am a self-professed TV addict. TV and I go back a long way. It might be genetic: my mom always had the TV on when I was young, and when I went to relatives' homes the first offer of hospitality was use of the television. Back then, in the 80's and early 90's, I looked forward to two or three shows a night, every night of the week. Even today, one of the first acts when I get home is to turn on the television.

However, I have noticed a change in myself in the past few years.

I still leave the TV on, but now it serves a function not much different from the radio: background noise (background sight?) to my other activities during the day. During my spare time, instead of staring at the television until the next commercial comes on, I am instead staring at my computer screen and looking up occasionally to see if something on the television is worthy of my attention. More often than not, I'm barely aware what show is on the TV at any given moment.

I don't think I'm alone in this behavior. I've talked to a few people about this, and they tell similiar tales. There seems to me a growing consensus that there are fewer and fewer TV shows that are worth paying full attention to. Here are the only shows I drop everything for:

The Amazing Race.
24 (returning in January, who hoo!)
David Letterman.
Conan O'Brien.
NFL football.
NBA, NHL, other occasional sporting events.
News, at some point during the day.

That's about it. Even The Simpsons is barely a shell of its former glory, and I have most of the reruns memorized anyway. Except for those shows, the TV just exists for background noise. I know that soon, I'll just leave the TV off more and more often, moving that time into the internet and other non-TV activities.

I really do think the way people will watch TV in 10-15 years will look nothing like they do today. Forget TiVo, wait until you can get whatever TV show you want off the internet anytime, anyplace in the world. Except for major live news stories, or special evens like the Super Bowl, the push will be for on-demant TV shows. People will stop clearing their Thursday nights; Must-See TV will be When-I'm-Ready TV.

To continue the meme started by Caltechgirl, and to satisfy my own curiousity, I'll take note of what is on TV right now (12:33am PST).

2 (FOX) Celebrity Justice.
3 (NBC) Some country singer I dont recognize on Jay.
4 (KRON) Elimidate. Yeeech!!!!!!!
5 (CBS) Dave. Just got done with some R&B act I wasn't paying attention to.
6 (Independant) Makeup infomercial.
7 (ABC) LL Cool J talking to Jimmy Kimmel about his clothing line. Get those Emmys ready!
8 (Asian Channel) News in Cantonese. Interesting, but all the Cantonese I know is "gung hay fat choy."
9 (PBS)-Charlie Rose with Martin Scorsese. Might actually be interesting.
10 (International) Deutche Welle. I can watch German news in English. Ahh, the wonders of the 21st century.
11 (TV Guide Channel) Deserving a ranting post of its own. I can waste five minutes watching this to determine nothing is on.
12 (UPN) Some UPN sitcom attempting to get its humor from tired African American stereotypes.
13 (WB) Lord save me, it's a Ronco informercial. Pork loin roast cooker with the audience saying their canned lines in unison. Pray this isn't the video future anthopologists judge American Civilization by.
14 (Univision) Generic Latino family sitcom.
15 (Discovery) What's the host of The Amazing Race doing on this bridal show?
16 (???) Mambo drums. (Don't ask me, I don't know either)
24 (???) Weight loss infomercial.
25 (???) Hair loss informercial.
33 (???) Get rich quick infomercial.
38 (ESPN) 15,816th showing of the Dale Earnhardt movie this week.
40 (Fox Sports) Best Damn Sports Show. Tom Arnold. Quickly changing channel.
41 (TBS) Dumb and Dumber. That's how I feel right now for starting this.
43 (MTV) Cribs. Considering the size of my apartment, my episode of Cribs would fit in a 30-second commercial. Sigh.
44 (VH1) Some top 40 list show. Celebrity couples or something. Never seen a top 40 list show on VH1 before. Heh, yeah right.
45 (Spike) Dumbass crooks running from cops. I do miss Southern California.
46 (Lifetime) Another ad featuring housecleaning products talking to a housewife. I guess staying at home all day could drive you to talk to the soap bottle.
50 (TLC) Comcast ad trying to convice me to buy into their phone service. As if my cable and broadband aren't enough. You will be assimilated.
51 (Animal Planet)- A dog downhill-skiiing. Awwww.
54 (Cartoon Network) Adult Swim. Manga. I can feel hip watching TV at 1am.
55 (Disney) Kim Possible. Either kids are up at 1am watching this, or adults are. I don't know which is more disturbing.
56 (CNN) Bin Laden's new tape. Just in time for those last minute Christmas shoppers.
58 (CNBC) German stock market news. If you're doing well enough to have a financial interest in the German stock market, you should pay someone to watch this this instead of being up this early.
61 (???) Infomercial for a broom called OneSweep. Of course he makes a liar out of himself by using a multiple sweeping motion. Someone write the FCC.
65 (Court TV) Some guy killed his wife. Probably to be followed by some other guy killing his wife.
66 (Hallmark Channel) Some 90's kung-fu movie. On the Hallmark channel?? I'm speechless.
71 (???) Infomercial. "Finally, there is an affordable, safe, natural solution to your problem." If you hear these works, clutch your wallet tightly.
72 (TV Land) All in the Family. Ironically, a show that wouldn't be allowed on TV today. Imagine the FCC complaints that show would get. Comparing what TV/movies got away with 20-30 years ago versus today is another great rant I'll likely take up at a future date.
73 (Oxygen) Sue Johanson. Big vibrators and dildoes; how to get rid of crabs. Now this is Good Late Night TV. Speaking of the FCC, it's a miracle some group hasn't made a big stink about boycotting Oprah for allowing Oxygen to have Sue on. That's not quite enough to redeem my faith in mankind, though.
81 (OLN) Fishing show. I would take a fishing show over a poker show any day. Could someone please explain to me why the hell poker shows became popular?
82 (Golf Channel) They took a boring Saturday afternoon in front of the TV and made a channel out of it.

OK, enough of that. I took over half an hour to channel-surf and document my findings. Why the hell someone would insist on getting a satellite and hundreds of channels completely escapes me.

For the handful of people who read my blog, I would love it if you continued the meme, and did a quick survey of what's on TV in your area. I would also love to read comments on what you think the is the state of television is. I have always had a love-hate relationship with TV, and will probably never give it up. How about you?

Saturday night, if you're in LA with nothing better to do, come down to Newport, it's the Christmas Boat parade. i'm doing a barbecue. you and company are welcome, but only if you wear a costume mask to be incognito.

hmm. If that doesn't make sense, I blame this odd time of day for me to still be awake. But sailing and parades await later today!
Correction: It's a good thing you didn't come by. Parking was impossible. Even the pay parking was sold out by 5:30pm... I was there early, but a few friends came by, and spent time looking for parking, then bailed. I can't blame them, but ouch...
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