i have to admit, the return of a certain unnameable television show tonight spurred this rant.

one word: sensationalism. there was a time and a place where this was mocked, where this was scoffed at as 'cheap entertainment.' drama is of course a very important element in any sort of fiction genre, but there comes a point when it is just ridiculously over the top. the abuse of it has always been around to some extent, but it's just gone off the deep end now.

there used to just be the dramatic event at the end of a large part in a book, spurring on the next section. now there is a cliff hanger at the end of every 3 page chapter. there used to be dramatic endings to an entire show, or perhaps a season. now every single show has a 'spellbinding' ending. beyond that, there is a question looming at every commercial break!

fiction is not the only culprit. we see it especially in 'reality tv,' specifically game shows. Who Wants to be a Millionaire really took it to a new level, with lowering the lights and dramatic music and the commercial break right before the answer is revealed. and everyone followed suit. deal or no deal, the moment of truth (a sad commentary in itself), etc. they all are ridiculous. they take 10 minutes worth of content and stretch it into an hour. lingering the extreme close-ups on their face. why do we accept this!?! and don't get me started on the new american gladiators. decked out in barely any clothing, the gladiators yell a grunt to say they are ready. people swim under fire. it is completely overdone--even more so than the 80s version! the 80s version! (ok early 90s, but it started in the 80s) yes, the 1980s, where hair was big and everything was overdone. we are worse! we don't need big hair. (oh and everyone gets injured on that show! what kind of gladiator gets injured and sits out events?).

you know what it is? it creates a guise over terrible plots and bad acting, and all we care about is "what's going to happen next???". we become addicted simply because it's a cheap feeling of excitement in our otherwise uneventful lives. ok that's a bit harsh--but it is living vicariously. at best we become attached to the characters because they have some sort of development or endearing quality (usually brought on by the actor, not the plot). but they're not real! really the only 'real' thing we can take is a greater meaning within the stories. but we don't even care about the deeper values or ideas put forth--if there even are any.

i am guilty too. yes, i watched every episode of the OC. what? seth was funny. yes, i know i'm a hypocrite. speaking of deeper values. i have since mourned the loss of several weeks of my life i will never get back.

sometimes i begrudge the approval of subtlety in fiction, but i do see why it is really necessary. and my point of consolation is that movies seem to still do the majority of their 'drama' genre pretty well. and of course there's always good fiction out there--but contemporary fiction has its own issues.

so, if any of you screen writers on strike out there happen upon this post, i know that america eats up the crappy drama--but for pity's sake, use this free time to write something decent. and of course i don't blame you entirely, i know much is the director and producers. oh hollywood, how distinctly american. it's times like this i wonder if i live in the wrong country.

and those of you out there who watch these shows, time for some soul-searching. why do you watch? i mean really, for real, why?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. well said. it reminds me of the marxist notion of 'alienation of labor' (humans are just cogs in a machine... yes, very modernistic & mechanistic... i wonder how post-modernity will shake this thought up), and how they saw entertainment used as a sort of drug to pacify the working force by creating almost a comatose environment (plots that arent totally unexpected or upsetting; predictable music; etc). it almost seems that entertainment has adapted to give a perceived sense of adventure, risk, love, humor, without actually producing that in the audience's lives.

    now, if you'll excuse me, i better run... entourage has finally loaded! let's hug it out bitch.

  3. well, you definitely snapped me out of my sadness over missing the LOST premiere....I think that show in particular, for me anyways, is addictive because it poses a puzzle to solve with endless options...not so much the drama in each episode, but i really want to figure out the others and how the people relate to one another and what the heck is the island anyways. and yes - i was reading theories, and i got really excited because there are all these crazy scientific ideas out there...it's odd, i have this part of me that is supremely intrigued by physics and quantum physics and this show present opportunities to explore those ideas, most of which i know very little about.

    i guess as i really think about WHY i watch...it's this possibility of being able to figure something out, to understand something that is beyond myself....it's also why i loved harry potter. and i think i am drawn to it more as of late because the Lord has stayed cloaked and said you won't figure Me out..I reveal myself. so i let Him, and take my itching mind to other thing, like crosswords and LOST. :) is that hopelessly ridiculous?

    and i watch the office because dwight/michael scott are the best villains out there...if you could call them villains.

    something to consider also....do we get so worked up and into a show simply because our friends are and it brings a sense of community....we get together to watch this show, we eat around this show, we talk about this show, we theorize about this show. i think this is definitely part of the pull...same as with sports.

    simply because these things are easier to grasp onto and talk about than God. maybe.

  4. oh yes sarah the office is a great show--a lot of comedy shows are really quality while a lot of movie comedies are pretty poor quality, that genre is kind of the flip side of this. my rant does not apply to comedies, and certainly not to any form of entertainment--though the general criticism of entertainment applies under them all.

    though there has to be more in the content than just 'what happens next' right? don't get me started on harry potter :). no kidding, i know it has some content beyond that. mystery is addicting, but i'm not sure it's very fulfilling--especially if they were ever actually to reveal anything substantial (which i'm convinced will never happen in lost--just enough to tease you along. the show will never end).

    but you're right, there can be redeeming qualities in a lot of these shows and they can create a cool sense of community. of course maybe there are better things we could be coming around, but it's something. and GOOD stories, well, their value cannot be overstated.

  5. seth cohen IS funny.
    words of truth.

    ha we'll just have to talk about this.
    i don't even know what to say.

    i've tried to stay away from tv series for about a year now.
    but i unfortunately have an instinct and an intuitive pop culture section in my brain,
    so i usually know what's going on in a lot of different shows.
    it's to keep me humble.
    or something like that.

  6. oh luke.
    you need to stop lying to yourself.
    the OC was one of the greatest things to ever happen to you.