Truthfully, I’m not much of a television watcher, but I do like the fact that it’s a passive sort of entertainment*, and for an hour or so day, I like being entertained. I don’t even do it every day. The thing is, as I’ve grown older, I have found that it’s okay to admit that I like television.
I note this because it’s going to be a long, mentally intense summer for me. You probably don’t care, anticipating a long, mentally intense summer of your own. While I am perfectly happy — eager! — to disappear into the world of books and I am very much living online — all day long! — and I still have lots of music in the mix, I have come to enjoy certain television programming and the fact that it’s not available to me over the long, mentally intense summer is irritating.
There is this new show John From Cincinnati that we’re going to to give a shot, despite the weird reviews (is it good, is it bad, do I take it on faith that the creators of Deadwood know what they’re doing?). Otherwise, what?
TiVo, being TiVo, will automatically record my old favorites come fall, provided we haven’t somehow disconnected it while our house is being razed. But by then, the daily habit will be gone. I will need to rekindle my interest in turning on the television. Naturally, I will be cautious about locking into any new programming, given the way the networks take it away faster than you can blink.
Last week, it was announced that the Nielsen ratings showed record low ratings for the major networks. This tells me that my household is not unique. We aren’t the only ones who have found that “Dancing with Monkeys” or whatever the clone reality show du jour is called isn’t real entertainment. It is easy to walk away from the box, we all know.
I am intensely interested in how technology is changing entertainment media. I cannot comprehend how so many highly paid individuals did not and do not possess the vision necessary to accommodate the changes in what their customers want. Motion picture, music, and publishing industries remain intensely focused on creating a blockbuster to end all blockbusters — propping up the bottom line in a fashion that will surely lead to “lower than expected earnings” in the next year.
So much focus goes into the fleeting moment, the short attention span crowd, that very little energy is expended on people like me. We have been saying forever now that business as usual doesn’t work the way it used to. Intense focus on a demographic that is fragmented, entertainment-wise, simply does the rest of us injustice. There are lots of people who cannot afford the luxury — it’s not just money, it’s time — of hanging out at malls and riding their skateboards on summer evenings. Hitting the movie theater mid-week is almost a forbidden luxury.
We need the entertainment companies to understand that we exist, before we decide we simply cannot be bothered. You would think that the entertainment industries would be courting the audience they know to be true, to be loyal. Yet they continue to pretend that teenage boys are the only demographic that matters. When you talk about record lows of viewership, you are talking about the core audience.
So, know any good web-based series to keep me entertained this summer?
* – Unless someone has the nerve to put a Journey song into the series-ending episode of The Sopranos, in which case someone in my household starts ranting about the injustice of it all.