Television in the USA

Television is a very… strange thing. It has probably ruined society overall even though there are many intentions of providing news and entertainment right into your home. Unfortunately TV executives mixed with too much time and money allow these kinds of things to happen…

At first I didn't believe this show was real.

It is easy to think that this is a caricature of ridiculous people and say “they are stupid enough for putting themselves on tv and allowing it to happen” but the problem is that the viewer is responsible for watching and enjoying. This is the modern freak show and it is allowed to happen.

If anyone is familiar with Ray Bradbury’s novel ‘Fahrenheit 451’ it might seem like it has come true. Television is dumbed down and serves as our entertainment, similar to the drug soma from ‘Brave New World’. There is also the issue of censorship, the name of the book refers to the temperature that paper burns. The protagonist is a fireman but instead of stopping fires he creates them, so as to burn books. Critical thought is outlawed and America has turned anti-intellectual. One could argue that this has happened but that is another post for another day. What I am more interested at the moment is the current state of television as a media to entertain.

One show I really back in the UK is Masterchef. It is a reality talent show where actual talent is rewarded. Sure, singing is a talent but it is interesting to see food taken to an art form and there are enough good singers (beneath the dribble of Lady Gaga and Rebecca Black) but it is interesting to see the cooks go out of their comfort zone. Their personalities are not annoying and are reflected well in their dishes, and when food goes wrong it isn’t just “this is not good” but there are more reasons and layers to it. A singer can sing badly, out of tune and stuff it up. A cook can under cook things, put wrong flavour combinations together, make a dish that looks bad and a whole load of other things.

But it’s more impressive when the dish is done right in an incredible way. What I love about Masterchef (and cooking shows in general) is the expertise and knowledge of the judges. In the recent season there was a Canadian who put together bizarre combos of ingredients and the judges didn’t think the food would work. Lo and behold that guy ended up stunning the judges and winning.

The American version of the show is… different. Gordon Ramsay is one of the hosts and he is calmer on Masterchef than he is in Hell’s Kitchen. But geez it is a very dramatic show. It uses studio produced music that could be put in a trailer for a summer blockbuster and always goes to ads, even if a souffle is in danger of not rising it will go (dramatic music) “but will Kenny’s souffle rise? Or will he sink out of the competition!?” (camera zooms on people looking panicked) and then go to an ad break. In the UK Masterchef is humble, the food is the star. The music is better too.

However reality TV does have some great parts, such as when people fail. That is the most satisfying part. It is probably why people watch X Factor or American Idol, to see people who are so delusional that they have no idea how bad they are. I know it makes me feel better. Like this guy…


2 thoughts on “Television in the USA

  1. Good points. It appears that reality shows feel the need to pump up the reality. Sadly, real reality doesn’t have enough conflict and drama.

    American Idol and X-factor contestants really need to find some friends that can be honest with them. They should at least buy a video camera and watch themselves. I was impressed with the The Voice. Instead of mocking the contestants all of the celebrity mentors helped and guided the singers. Everything seemed positive and refreshing.

    • It’s nice when judges are helpful with the contestants. But I wonder if people watch to see the contestants do well and develop or if it is just an extra to the bad ones being grilled. And if they lack talent, well at least they make up for it in confidence. Everyone, unfortunately, is a winner.

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