Sharyn Mayer…..my two cents
WASTELAND LIVES……………….In 1961 Newton Minow, then FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman gave a speech at the convention of the National Association of Broadcasters. In the speech, Minow referred to television programming as a “vast wasteland” and advocated for programming in the public interest. Here’s part of what he said:
“When television is good, nothing – not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers – nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland. “
At the time, Minow’s reference to a vast wasteland was directed toward the array of game shows, violent programming, westerns, cartoons, private eye dramas and formulated comedies. Well, in my opinion, there is a new vast wasteland – it’s the era of the cheaply made, utterly ridiculous, non-creative plethora of reality programming.
Now, to be clear, I do not include shows like ‘American Idol,’ or ‘Top Chef’ among them, because they fall into the competitive category for me. But, the “Housewife” series on Bravo, the “Jersey Shore” type shows; the programs developed merely to showcase the stupidity and childish behavior of people willing to air all of their dirty laundry, become physically violent, verbally abusive and on and on and on – if that isn’t a vast wasteland, what is??!!
I mean, I even include shows like “Dr. Phil” where people will come on to discuss their most private thoughts, issues – nothing is too personal or considered confidential to be dealt with away from cameras – where is the dignity Americans once held?
I grew up in a time when personal finances, family issues, political persuasion, etc. were considered to be private matters to be addressed in a private manner. No one aired publicly what would have been considered poor taste. Now, networks, especially the cable outlets can develop ridiculous and classless programs on small budgets for an increasingly gullible audience that has an insatiable appetite for garbage and rake in a fortune while doing so.
No one expects producers to go back to the ‘stone age’, but c’mon, don’t insult my intelligence either! Looks like Minow’s blast at TV as a vast wasteland some 50 years ago, now fully lives up to its description and expectation!!!