Friday, May 20, 2011

Ever watch TV? Don't just get pissed. Fight back!

Why does Media Abuse its Consumers, their Life Blood?

Before I get started, I am not going to pay any attention at all to the argument that advertising pays the bills. That has become a kind of reverse moot point. And no, I won't explain that now. That is a fog that business people put up to blur what is actually happening; an a prioi, if you will, so we cannot at all discuss what the problem is, the dissatisfaction that is rampant. So for a moment, let's just look at the other side at the audiences who are being abused by these principles, the studios and those business people who are trying to make do, but pushing the limits to the point of poor taste and actually losing audiences.

I heard an article this past week that they are cancelling the show, "The Event." The article said that viewers won't even get to find out what the "Event", was.

Excuse me?

TV and cable are lucky I'm not an Attorney. Especially, a rich one. Because I would start a series of class action lawsuits against the TV and Cable industry.

Why? Oh, let me count the ways. Ever since I was a child I've been up against the TV media industry. When they first put on "Batman" with Adam West, my friends and I were upset. At first we thought, Awesome, a comic book hero on TV. We have finally been heard. But alas, it turned into a spoof of Batman, "The Dark Knight" almost immediately and only got worse from there. Yes, adults thought it was a hoot. It became a "thing" in Hollywood to get a cameo on the show. Yes, in hindsight that was cool, but I wasn't an adult back then and we thought they put on Batman, for us.

My friends and I sent the studio letters begging them to stop; to put something better on. Our suggestion was "The Green Arrow" with his sidekick, "Speedy", but the head of the studio, allegedly wrote back saying (and God I wish I had kept that) that they appreciated our letters but they had already invested a lot of money in Batman. Also that they had a new show they hoped we would like, "The Green Hornet". That show, with Bruce Lee as Cato, was a hit with my friends and I. BRUCE LEE! That other guy, his boss, only got in the way of our seeing Bruce on each episode.

Then there was the Star Trek fiasco. After only three seasons, they killed it. They said the numbers weren't high enough. Excuse me? In hindsight, do you think maybe they were idiots? Perhaps these "numbers" weren't a good way to rate a show?

Eventually, they added more and more commercials so that shows got shorter and shorter. They bleeped words, cut words, actually injected Different words because of FCC regulations. Nothing "questionable" was allowed on TV. Britain has far less stringent standards and they seem to have done rather well, morally speaking. So have other even less stringent countries.

Jump ahead to post millennium days. Now.

Cable shows are the worst at putting advertising up. We were told that if we paid for cable channels there'd be no commercials. What happened to that?

First, they had commercials. Then they started, on some channels to compress the ending titles of shows and movies to put in advertising. Then it got to the point that the speed or compression of titles actually made it impossible to read.

Now, they are putting up advertising on the actual show you are watching. Even if it's a pay channel. They take up the entire bottom third of the screen, even half sometimes, seemingly. It's offensive, it's irritating. It should be actually, Illegal. Once they discovered how valuable that space is, they went nuts. They have learned over time how to be intrusive but less intrusive. But that should fall under the 1960's ruling that you cannot use subliminal perception. Basically, they are trying to persuade us without our realizing it.

Do you ever notice these ads are there but you realize you really didn't notice it? That is subliminal advertising. Which is, illegal.

I would actually claim that the actual shows they show us, are our property, no longer theirs. I have long said, that to show a show or movie on TV (cable, whatever) it should be illegal to change at all what the original format was. No, "This show has been altered to fit your screen (pan and scan)". No compression show times to fit the time slot. No squeezing the titles to get in more ads. And certainly no showing ads during the actual show.

What really gets me, drives me up the wall, is when I'm watching a show, and they advertise for the show I'm watching, while I'm watching it!

One more, the relatively recent act of ending a segment of a show to go to commercial, then after the commercials are over, they show you what you just saw, in order to remind your stupid brain what you just saw, and to save having to do more show, by replaying as much of a show as possible, again.

Finally, the situation with "The Event". These studios have to stop giving us shows and then killing them, either so soon, or without any resolution whatsoever.

Case in point, Joss Whedon's billiant, "Firefly", "Flashforward" and now, "The Event." Not good enough numbers? The REASON I didn't watch "The Event" was absolutely because of how they have treated us, their viewing public. I don't WANT to get caught again investing my care and time to watch a show that will simply be pulled due to anything, other than the show's "story arc" has completed.

And so, I do think, much like passengers on airplanes need a "Bill of Rights" to stop being abused by airlines, leaving them on the tarmac for hours before taking off, and all the other things, viewers need a "Bill of Rights" for studios to stop abusing their people, the people who pay their bills. They should be trying to make us loyal like we love them, not like we fear watching their shows because of low quality or cut offs. Not low quality of a show, but the low quality of presenting and maintaining the show. All those things around what the production itself has done. Not to mention, what a slap in the face it is to the actors, writers, producers, directors and crews. They do a good job and they get cut. Off to find work elsewhere.

They used to know that it takes a while for a show to catch on. Now if you don't catch on in the first quarter, you're outta here baby.

Anytime we have that kind of power, it needs to be regulated. No I don't want the government to regulate creativity. I want the government to regulate the suits behind the creativity. I want the creatives to have more power, more consideration. And beyond them, I want the viewers to have more power. Perhaps we should unionize. There have been writers strikes that have changed the industry perhaps forever. Maybe not for the good, as it created "reality show", but then, some of those shows are great: "Top Chef" for one, and maybe some others, but that is arguable. Some have degenerated into trash, such as MTV's House Rules, which is a far cry from its first season.

The problem is, we can't just vote by not watching. We ARE watching, the shows we like, and they get cut anyway. We don't want to stop watching the shows we love, we just want them to stop being abused by compression, ads over the show, moving them around so much actually killing some shows by sheer stupidity. Although admittedly, those kinds of issues are basically gone now through things like DVRs and TIVO.

And that brings up the issue of how you rate a show watched later on DVRs. There is an entirely different article in that, how they abuse rating shows that are heavily watched on TIVO, rating them less if watched the next day and considering people aren't watching the commercials, the life's blood of shows.

Trouble with that theory is I always wait fifteen minutes into a show, before watching it so I can skip the adverts. So what's it matter if I watch it nearly live, or a week later. Believe it or not, I do see the ads, they are just faster. This is known by the studios and they are making ads that play well on fast speeds. It's an amazing area, really.

There is a new world. Studios and the business units behind them, need to catch up. They need to adhere to some rules that show care of their supporters, not just their advertisers. And the advertisers need to wake up even more.

Alienating your audience, is never a best use scenario.

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