30 March, 2011

Four corners of a 60-minute current affair today, tonight, tomorrow and next week


Oh how the answer could be so simple... or so dreadfully complicated, depending on whom you ask.

Let's get one thing straight: When it comes to commerical channels, the main reason these programs exist is to make you watch them. Advertising's big dollars rule the world. The shows on government-funded channels at least have a different reason for being: mainly, because viewers are interested to see them. Sure, someone will cry altruism. All those senationalist journalists pretend they're in the business because they want to do the best thing, that most noble of jobs, telling the people. From the goodness of their hearts. Oh please. This here is for them - it's the world's tiniest violin.

Watching current affairs programs makes me think of car accidents. Most of us don't actually want to look at twisted metal, the Jaws of Life, ambulances and bodies/belongings strewn across a highway in the wake of an unidentifiable people-mover. Those things are all scary and nasty. But we still rubberneck and stare every single time, don't we? Don't we? And for what?


So, are we doing the same when we glue our butts to the sofa and stare at the idiot box to mindlessly absorb Today Corners and oooh-aaaah at that stupid woman/grandfather/teacher/shop doing dumb things? Or are we just satisfying a lust for becoming a regular busybody Mrs Mangel?

How many times have you seen someone bitching on Facebook about "that dickhead" from the tv last night (DID YOU WATCH IT? HOW STUPID WAS THAT WOMAN?! DIDN'T YOU WANT TO SMACK THAT KID UPSIDE THE HEAD? ISN'T IT REVOLTING THAT THE LAW LETS THAT HAPPEN?! I'D KILL MY HUSBAND IF HE EVER TRIED THAT SHIT WITH ME!)?

Occasionally they have some program for a "good" cause. That (school/hospital/home) which (disappeared/burned down/fell apart) and how the (owner/criminal/government) won't (fix/replace/buy) it. And here's how you can help by donating: just phone 1-800-MAKE-EVERYTHING-BETTERER. In theory, raising awareness gets action happening, and sometimes it does. The problem is that the journos have that same, exact, imitiation sympathetic "sad tv" look on their faces whether they're talking about the horrible three cent price increase on bubblegum, or the five hundred people maimed by a murderous-crayon-wielder on a rampage.

It leaves me with an empty feeling. What was on 60-affairs-current-line last week? Last month? Can't bloody remember? Sounds about right. Vapid, meaningless "entertainment" that still holds our attention with as much pull as Aqua's Barbie Girl played on the radio (but without the humour).