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April 1995, Week 1


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"by way of [log in to unmask] Jajasoon Tlitteu" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 5 Apr 1995 16:03:38 CDT
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
[Note: Jaymes sent this to me directly but he told me I could send it to
the list as a whole to spur conversation - jajasoon]
> How else will "those people" ever figure out that they are being deprived
of the beauty and wonder of Art?
hmm...yes exactly how i wonder? ;)
the point i am trying to make (further) is that TV has the potential to be so
much  more. I feel the goal of television should be to serve the public and
 not the advertisers. Now you may feel that is the object of public TV, that
may be true, however, i feel u.s. public tv is designed more to educate than
i am generalizing, of course, as i was with my previous rant, about tv. There
is some good programming on TV (and when i say tv i don't refer to cable,
which isn't available to everyone (i have only limited experience with my
friends who are fortunate enough to have it)-- Letterman still remains on the
hipper side of comedy and i have been a fan for about eight years, i like
Northern Exposure because of its slow pace and the quirky, developed
characters (which most sitcoms lack). And i like the Simpsons and Animaniacs,
because they rarely patronize the intelligence of their usually young
audiences (as the animation medium often does). The trash i refer to is daytim
e talk shows and daytime soap opera, and tabloid tv and real life drama like
Cops and Rescue 911.  my point is, why can't soap operas develop characters
like Northern Exposure (or even E R which i have started to like).... or talk
shows occasionally discuss politics,  environment, instead of private
"confessionals" by paid amatuer actors?
On sitcoms, for example, when a "serious issue" is raised, a new character,
who one of our regular character is in love  (eldest teenage daughter, name
any series) with  is introduced and the new character is befelled by disaster
(killed by a drunk driver, stricken with HIV,etc.) all within in the same 30
minute episode, to teach some moral lesson or educate on a social problem.
how can anyone learn form this, or be affected by it, without having known
the character, like in a good film, or a novel, or short story. there is no
room for empathy (when that's the shows aim) when there is no character
development--- i feel more "attatched" to the characters because they are
more like real human--- they grow and change and learn.
so go to public tv? right. Where's my pillow? Although i will occasionally
turn on nova or nature, there is only so much of exploding volcanoes and kiwi
bird mating habits i can take. there are rare exceptions when the education
is truly entertaining, like ken burn's Civil War and Baseball series. But
entertainment? erm...
but i have seen some good commercial and public tv in britain, where i lived
for a year. The BBC has been responsible for educating the public with like
"volcano" pbs-style shows and native language shows (, but also shows high
brow movies (like "Another Girl on the IRT") and lowbrow movies (like
"Labrynth"), uncut. they carry some sports, dramatic series ("Buddha of
Suburbia") and comedy series ("Absolutely Fabulous" and Reb C. Nesbitt) and
my two favorite American imports "Beavis and Butthead" and "Ren and Stimpy".
It wasn't perfect, It did have some trash (prime time dart tourneys and
austrailian soap operas). The BBC also produced classic series like Monty
Python and Dr. Who.  Now would PBS ever show Saturday Night Live or
Alternately the commercial networks presented similary challenging viewing,
Channel 4 in particular. Channel 4 sponsored young british animators to
experiment and produce shorts. The products have been nominated at the
academys and several film festivals. Channel 4 presented the series "Tales of
the City" unexpugiated ,produced by the network (played cut by PBS here).
They played lowbrows like Marx Brothers and the 3 stooges films. and high
brows like "Betty Blue", "Mystery Train", and "The Cook, the thief,..."
(edited for commercials). they also showed "A Camp Christmas", which was a
prime-time  christmas special featuring gay entertainers (julian cleary,
melissa etheridge,.erasure and others) Like that would ever be played by CBS
on christmas eve! And though it pissed a lot of people off, the network
risked challenging programming (it wasn't deep, it was funny and
TV be can be entertaining, fine... but real entertainment is engaging,
challenging, and somewhat informative...this is really "interactive" as you
put it. There has to be style and substance in order to interacted with... i
am Not entertained by leaning back and cynically mocking "full House" and
"baywatch" (as some of my coffee-house college friends do) ....
Are you more entertained by movies like pulp fiction, shawshank redemption,
heavenly creatures, quiz show, and  ed wood or are you more entertained by
john hughes-esque pulp comedies? (look i am not so uppity, i am not afraid to
admit i like a lot of spielberg's films too)
anyway i am finished with this rant... i enjoy this lively discussion so fire
back at will!!
james goldschmidt
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