Commentary

Star Wars

Still doing taxes (see last week for why). Today Show on for background noise. You know the war is over when Katie and Matt are leading with the world's smallest dog, Today's own wedding planner promotion and Steven Cojocaru with fashion from Hollywood. Just two weeks ago, Matt was on the scene in Doha in his safari khakis and sunglasses.

We've just had the world's quickest war. It made great theater while it lasted. But, it was lousy television programming. First of all, it's like the nightmare of endlessly reproducing reality programming we are now enduring. Every channel had it all the time and there was no way to distinguish your stuff from the other guy's. Even our local Connecticut TV channels had reporters in Iraq, ferreting out hometown guys and gals for a minute on the tube. So, there's no way for exclusivity or a jump on the competition. Plus, it's expensive as hell to cover for all the networks that sent teams of their best and brightest. Of course, there was little or no advertising revenue, at least in the early stages, AND, no money from syndication.

No wonder the programming people have been anxious for America to get back to its real love, like the upcoming American Idol Kids contest.

I have to confess to nostalgia for those few weeks during the heat of battle. Knowing it was 8 hours later over there, I'd wake up early, anxious to see how our troops had done today. I'd spend a couple of hours catching up on the battlefront news and the opinion pages before getting on with the day. Of course, the problem was, thanks to our oversaturated media environment here at home, we all had to hear exactly those same few news items endlessly repeated all day wherever we went.

The entertainment phenomenon this short war most resembled is the pro basketball or football playoffs. Basketball goes on way too long, months, it seems. The NFL is just about right. It's all over in about the same 3 weeks the war took. But admit it, don't we all miss the playoffs when they're over and we have to figure out anew what to do with our Saturdays and Sundays? And, don't we now miss waking up each morning to REAL purpose, to see how our favorite team, the unbeatable U-S-of-A is doing. Instead, we're stuck with the news of the weird that local and even national networks now put out as their standard fare.

It just seems to me like the modern American dance with the media gets crazier and crazier. You can't tell the real from the staged from the oddball anymore. The level at which virtually all television media and most of talk radio pitch their programming is about ankle-high (or, at least, below the belt). And, any serious issue on a commercial station is cut off mid-thought. I know it's for the ads, and I'm in favor of advertising generally. But, the way talk about serious issues is scheduled, it's all over in about 2 minutes.

We are capable of so much more than we are being given. And, of course, that means the programmers' race to the bottom will ultimately create its own undoing. Because, the great thing about America is we can all just tune them out.

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