Sunday, 17 February 2008

A Television Rant

I don't hate television. I think it's amazing, in fact. It can be used to educate, create and agitate. Most people have one, and TV licences and basic cable packages are cheap (if not free). Unfortunately, we don't seem to be using television to its fullest extent. It’s both visual- and audio-based, and yet, it’s radio programming that shows greater originality. Think about it - most radio programmes have a host, a conversational component that would become stale if it was repeated. Almost every day there are new guests, new interviews, new critiques, new songs, new recommendations, new dramas, new stories. There are repeats, but they're quite rare in comparison to television. Of course there are chat shows on TV that have new content every day, and new TV series are released all the time (maybe not so much recently due to the strike, however) but weigh up the proportion of original material vs. repeats on television, and compare it to the radio's proportion. Something is definitely amiss.

What spurred this post was something interesting I heard about mai '68 (the English department at my university is utterly obsessed with '68. Utterly) In one of our lectures the lecturer told us about the hijacking of French television stations by the revolutionaries and the subsequent broadcasting of the '68 slogans (I will make a post on my favourite slogans at some time, probably. The obsession is spreading). So, instead of being inspirational and sending the viewers to the streets to agitate, people just stared blank-faced at their televisions, treating it all like the usual broadcast, like mindless entertainment.

I understand that it's harder to constantly create something new for television. Sets, writers, equipment, actors all cost money. A new creation doesn't always need to be elaborate, however. There are lots of people seeking experience who would love the opportunity to broadcast. We don't have public access broadcasting here, which is a pity, but even so, television companies should actively seek new material to replace the incessant, and I mean incessant, awfully, terribly, frustratingly incessant re-runs that take up about half of the station's airtime. Lots of universities have amateur film-makers' societies (this is my university's, I'm not involved outside of helping with one film, but I thought I'd plug them anyway because they have some good shorts up there), and those socs would probably love the opportunity to showcase their work.

All is not doom and gloom and fatality, however. I adore Channel 4 (UK) for the bizarre stuff they show, as well as the great documentaries. They’re not as confined, as the BBC, either. My favourite TV-station is the Irish language one we have here, because they show compelling documentaries, art-housey films and have lots of community-related broadcasting. They even filmed the first ever musical put on in my old school (an original production of An Táin, written by a past pupil). They also have the greatest, most provincial and cute reality show ever in the existence of THE WORLD, called Paisean Faisean, where three young men or women have to pick out an outfit for a fourth participant, who in turn picks their date based on their favourite outfit of the three. None of them ever really like each other, and they’re mostly schoolteachers and students so the awkwardness of the date afterwards really shows through. It’s like Blind Date in Irish and on a smaller budget, I love it.

No comments: