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  1. Sue Nami

    Reality TV

    There seems to have been a quiet change taking place on cable television over the past few years. Its been insidiously creeping into the channels one by one without many taking notice or caring. Its like a swampy cancer that has slowly overtaken the channels that we used to subscribe ( pay) for because it was a better alternative to network television. The original "reality" show was something like PBS' 'This Old House' some 25 years ago. But that was authentic realism in that the show was about a man restoring homes. Sometime in 1999 or so, some anonymous producer or programmer decided to take the success of the reality show concept to another level and introduced 'Survivor'. Then,early on,it must have occurred to those watching the ratings that the prurient,voyeuristic behavior garnered better ratings rather than people simply competing for a prize. So they injected the notion of mean spiritedness,pettiness and back-stabbing to add drama. So the shows were tweaked to reflect this voyeurism that appealed to the lowest human emotions of jealousy,fear,envy,greed etc. Then those aspects were fine tuned yet again and sharpened to appeal to an even lower level of viewership; The formula went something like this; Take one part each Jerry Springer,WWE, Fishin',Bayou,Boots an' Beards! Add The Hatfields & McCoys,shake a bit with the backstabbing... Then stir in a bit of Osbournes,Jersey Shore and the Hillbilly spin-off version 'Buck Wild' on MTV that ended after a cast member being killed while "muddin'. Eventually,with the success of shows like "Pawn Stars",the programmers at cable companies abandoned any attempts at programming with substance and a potential for elucidation to pander to what is cheapest to produce. The menu of reality shows could be all summarized in a hypothetical conversation that encompasses all of the elements and full,low spirit of the shows on TV today. "Do ya wanna go an git a tattoo? Naw, Tammy don't like me goin' there. I'm a gone muddin' then to catch some gators Oh,OK. I wanna shake my ass and hope to git a boyfriend. But you're 16 and have a baby on the way. So does my mama! I think Honey Boo Bo jes sheet herself...He he he! Come on,let's git tattoos then go to the pawn shop. I wanna become a storage locker entrepreneur. DJ's jealous. I sent a bouquet of roses to the bachelorette. He said I was backstabbin' when I was talkin' behind his back at the club. He jez likes you cause you're tan and shake your bikini booty at him! I wanna goin' shoot sumpthin! Then let's get some moonshine then go muddin'! Maybe we can git Jesse ta build us a bike!" Somehow someone in New York or Los Angeles has discovered that Middle America equates being "Amurrkin' with hiding behind these pseudo-patriotic icons of hyper masculinity. So a flag is a totem on which to hang your identity and life purpose. Country music,trucks,moonshine and a belt buckle is all that is required to earn your badge as a citizen in the viewing public: Cable programming is now red,white and blue=red neck white trash and blue collar So we went from American Bandstand and American Dreams to American Gunners American Hoggers American Diggers American Pickers American Shooters American Truckers Only in America with Larry The Cable Guy Top Shot God,Guns and Automobiles! A'Comin' up: Its Uncle Jesse goe's a shootin' while wearing lotsa camoflage and denim! Maybe he'll ride his motorcycle through the swamp an git hurt while he's drunk! Do viewers not realize that they have been lulled into complacency to the point that they actually PAY to view this shit? Have the viewers and networks become so complacent and given up? Is it actual entertainment to watch "the Old Man" play solitaire and complain about the other guys in the pawn shop? Seriously,are we really paying their $100 a month to catch up on the latest gator huntin'? What would viewers have thought had this programming come out in 1990? What's available today has the professional and entertainment standards of public access television for the mentally challenged and inbred. Why is there always some bearded hillbilly looking out at me each time I turn on the TV? What is with the deluge of rednecks and why does this settle for entertainment these days? A sign that things were changing is when 'The History Channel' dropped any pretense of actually having historical,non-fictional content and changed its name to simply 'History' or "Histree' as Larry the Cable Guy pronounces it. Some executive or marketing guy must have said "Well,if we call it 'The History Channel' we're obligated to actually have programming that is focused on something historical. So if we simply change it to HISTREE,we can load up our programming slots with a shitload of hillbillies playing with fish,stills,trucks,gators and anything else on the planet that's a sign of arrested development and has absolutely nothing to do with history. So I would assume that 'The Learning Channel' will soon become 'Learnin'". Or 'Fun Hillbilly Stuff' as learning implies that there's going to be a quiz at some point. It makes me wonder if this was the plan from the beginning where there was a gradual downslope of standards from content with substance to now watching two people fight over a boyfriend,a gator,a storage locker or a tree ( as is the case of the lumberjackin' show). Its the dumbing down of American TV. Original programming that broadcasts material that could be enlightening and possibly informative is expensive to produce. So rather than take a chance and create a few shows with some learnin',the programmers at all these channels decided to slowly dilute the pool then totally pollute it with raw redneck sewage. Why don't they just install a camera at the cess pool in the back of some trailer park in Arkansas so we can see the shit that pours out? Just get right down to it. Perhaps we'll overhear a fight or some drama in the background while we're at it. Go back to 2000 and check at the listings for the History Channel,The Learning Channel ( Now featuring the "Housewives of Wherever the Fuck"), Discovery ( AKA Hillbilly Headquarters) and any other channel that had any amount of original substantial programming and notice the difference. When did this transformation take place? And who is behind it? And why are viewers not complaining? Perhaps this is the struggle between the cable channels giving up and making one last ditch effort to maintain an audience while the majority of affluent subscribers leave to watch other higher quality programming available on the multitude of alternate media outlets available today. And why are we being led down the lane,lulled into submission to drink the moonshine? Kardashians? Have we really changed out entertainment for viewing the daily trials and tribulations of 3 spoiled women who are famous for being famous? Paris Hilton set the precedent.......and now the bar has been lowered even more..if that's possible. Are we redneckified to the point where we need actual subtitles to be able to understand the bearded guys from Alabama? It seems as if we're moving towards the Deliverance Entertainment Channel where we sit for hours and watch the goings-on of an inbred,cross eyed,banjo playing bastard and accept this for entertainment. Amish Mafia? WTF? Those exes in LA and NY must really be laughing thier asses off at that one! What's next? Quaker Gun Runners? There are parental locks for content on your TV. Would I be able to lock out any reality programming or install a "beard" filter that disallows any features resembling ZZ Top on my TV? There's a little hope that programming of this sort will run its course and eventually swing back to content with substance. Or it will continue to swirl around the bowl and we will follow in the footsteps of other collapsed societies. More than likely,this shit storm will run out of steam when the droves of people tired of it go over to the Internet or other venues of entertainment that provide more choice and don't rely on a 24 by 7 HILLYBILLY festival. Its about time that the market speak up and not accept this type of material for mass consumption.
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