Sunday, September 16, 2007

When Ass Meets Class

I half watched TV last night, while doing one and a half repeats on Juno (I’m aiming for 2 a night – it MIGHT happen), and what I watched confirmed a pet theory of mine. I was watching free-to-air TV (as none of the movies on the multitude of Satellite TV Movie channels did anything for me) and ended up with CSI and Damages, as the best of a poor lot (this was on the basis that the ABC probably required more concentration than I was willing to extend). My theory is that when ass and class meet head to head, class will always be the loser.

The Ass/Class theory has been with me a while, and has almost always applied to TV – especially anything with Eddie McGuire involved. Anything with the word ‘Reality’ in front of it is also there and anything which audiences vote on is likely to be there too. All definitely cases of Ass beating Class. I mean – more people voted for American Idol than the American President – Oh my Sainted Aunt!

Barnum had a similar theory – he suggested that no-one ever went broke under-estimating the intelligence of the average punter. As he was also the man who came up with the whole ‘Never give a sucker an even break’ idea, this worried me.

What really worries me is not that the TV executives under-estimate the intelligence of their audience, but that they actively seem to be working to minimise their expectations and extend their stupidity. Journalism masquerading as ’60 minutes’, Morning television pretending to be current affairs, daytime TV purporting to offer political analysis. To say nothing of supposed quiz shows, so-called reality television and docudramas, all this stuff seems to me to work very hard at squashing any original ideas, critical faculties and insight out of their audience. And don’t even get me started on advertising!

This is NOT television reflecting reality, but rather television actively attempting to shape the world – or at least its perception.

Which is why I don’t watch commercial television much.

All of which brings me rather neatly to children’s television. (What a great segue!) I love ABC kids. I enjoy watching their offerings with my children. They never watch commercial TVs kid’s offerings (See above re advertising). But those of you with young kids are likely to be aware of the 4-430 line-up on ABC. We watch Peppa Pig, followed by the beautifully animated Bottle Top Bill. Then we have Shaun the Sheep (an Aardman animation, by the crew who brought you Wallace and Gromit) and then my favourite – Sitting Ducks. This half hour of TV (usually preceded by Playschool) is a joy.

It has no advertising. It has no suspicious content, it is perfectly designed for kids (and big kids who love good animation). Why is it, that when they make such crud for adults, they can make such joyous, original and intelligent shows for children?

My only concern is that after longer than I can remember, the ABC is changing the time of Playschool. For at least the last four years, the 3.30 timeslot has been sacred time in our house. 25 minutes of quiet, while I can organise dinner and do the washing up. I’m not sure how long Playschool has been in that slot, but I have a feeling that it’s almost as long as Playschool has been on the air.

For me, the main charm of crap TV will always be that allows me to do complex knitting! If I don't have to concentrate on the script, story or characters I can do lace and cables! (And go to the loo in the ad breaks!)

6 comments:

Jejune said...

Very much with you on this issue - science shows are getting worse, too (my hubby's a scientist, so it's a special peeve in our house, LOL). All this dumbing down, and then 'reconstructions' which mix fact with guessing. We're SBS & ABC people too.

I haven't seen Playschool in years, aaah, happy days...

2paw said...

No!!!!! 3pm is a bad time. No-one is home from picking up the kids from school. You'll have to tape it and watch it at 3-25!!!!! Commercial TV treats us all with contempt. I like the ABC, and then buying boxed sets of the shows commercial TV messes about!!!

Taphophile said...

"Sitting Ducks" is a hoot - love the 'gator.

Messing with "Playschool" is not a good thing at all. A friend's mother still hasn't forgiven the ABC for cancelling "Playschool" to broadcast the moon landing in 1969 - she had 3 kids under 5 and was not a happy woman!

MadMad said...

I don't know... would YOU have voted for our president? No. See, Idol was just an easier choice, is all. :)

Donna Lee said...

I had our cable turned off. We only get the local channels and the reception for those is awful. I got tired of the crap and watching my family sit and channel surf just to watch something, anything. I listen to books while I knit. I get to enjoy two of my favorite pasttimes and no commercials!

Georgie said...

We're in the same camp - its a rare time that our tv is not on ABC. There are only a small handful of programs we watch on commercial. Though I get really pissed, like donna lee, when Beloved just sits and surfs through crap and more crap - turn the bloody thing off!

I'm not going to get started on how right Barnum was....

Love ABC Kids. I sometimes find myself still watching even though PJ has left the room....