Television has Changed and I Don’t Like It

For a period of around 5 years I had no telly. My ex had left and got that (I kept the washing machine, so no complaints).

I was surprised at how little I missed it!

You know if you see a child growing up each day you don’t see the gradual changes, but if you meet that child at yearly intervals, the changes seem vast (“My, how you’ve grown!”)? Well, this is how it was for me and TV. It seemed a vast shift had happened in the output. It felt like it was no longer aimed at me.

Four main observations from that period late 90s to early 2000s:

  • the target age appeared to have dropped significantly and now, rather than adults, television treated us as children – or immature, pranky, witless students
  • it had moved from being reasonably intelligent, like a broadsheet newspaper, to totally tabloid, including being in awe of celebrities
  • producers were hellbent on making audience interact, usually in quite desperate ways
  • swearing seemed to be completely acceptable in any context

Target Age

Sure, there had been plenty of silly immature stuff in the early 90s: The Word, James Whale… But rather than being late night, back-from-the-pub fare, it had now seeped into pretty much all programme making. Presenters made a virtue of being stupid or irresponsible, which becomes a bit weary-making very quickly.

Tabloid TV

Maybe this is the same point as above. But more than the infantile presentation, there seemed to be a new focus on celebrities, on gossip, on the lewd or violent.

Interactive TV

There’s always been a bit of of interactivity. I wrote to “Think Of A Number” for factsheets when I was a kid, sent pictures to “Vision On” and collected bottle tops for “Blue Peter“.

And now, with the web, getting hold of programme information should be a whole lot easier/smoother. It should barely be worth mentioning.

Yet, they feel the need to constantly badger us to vote, call a number, email, text, press the red button, whatever. This is just an annoying distraction from programmes. And feels so desperate, which I guess it is: the measures of engagement is based on these interactions and producers need to beg us to validate them.

Swearing

I’m really not particularly offended personally. And it can be quite funny sometimes, when used in eg. quizzes. What feels wrong is not that they have moved the threshold but that there is no threshold any more, no thought going into whether it’s appropriate. Anything goes; we don’t care.

And there’s more…

This new idea of striping seemed to have come along. Instead of a series which would run every Thursday at 9.30, they’d put the series on over the whole week: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday… get it over with quickly. The chances of me being in regularly on one night of the week was far more likely than me being available every single night of one week.

Had the producers concluded that we no longer can retain a plot over a period of weeks? That we’d forget it if we didn’t the next episode just 24 hours later? Or was this just an aspect of the insanely annoying lack of patience that TV now has?

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