Most of us have probably become used to a certain level of sensory overload by now. Especially if you live in a city as overwhelming as New York. Here, nary a cab passes by without a brightly flashing sign or a block is walked through without four people trying to hand you a flyer for a local business. We’re bombarded every minute of the day by things which scream at us to look in their direction; Facebook alerts, Instagram likes, billboards, blaring car stereos, the smell of freshly risen bread being pumped into the air by the bakery down the street (maybe that’s just me). Why before I could even finish this sentence I was sidetracked by an email directing me to a page full of social media tips and spent twenty minutes trying unsuccessfully to make my own face into a number of different emojis.
With the majority of my day spent trying to avoid having a seizure, there’s always been one thing that I can count on to quiet my mind at the end of it: my television.
Television is my home. Television is my sanctum. Just the idea of it excites me. If I’m at work or finishing at the gym or doing a bunch of errands, I often can’t wait to get back to my TV. Nothing thrills me more than a solid DVR list like when you come home from vacation and all your very favorite shows are right there waiting for you, piled up from the week you missed. Television is where I can completely zone out and allow my brain to melt into the couch along with my body.
Until recently that is.
Can someone tell me just what the hell is going on with TV these days? Because I feel like what used to be my passively enjoyed paradise is now a three ring circus full of ads, trivia, tickers and totally irrelevant fun facts, all of which inhibit my ability to maintain a low level of cognitive activity while gawking at the moving images on the screen in front of me. And if I have to think, then what’s the point of watching TV in the first place?
Let’s start with the ads. I understand that with the inception of DVR and a viewer’s option to fast forward through commercials, advertisers have had to become more resourceful when it comes to placing their products in view of the public. So now in movies we see close ups of the Nikon a character is carrying or the Pepsi they’re drinking, but some of the selling has gotten completely obnoxious. Take this graphic for the remake of Dallas on TNT for example. One minute I’m casually watching Mel Gibson collapse into despair after the perceived death of his son in Ransom and as if that’s not enough drama, the next minute the entire bottom half of my television is engulfed in flames.
Is this really necessary? I’ve gotten used to occasional pop ups in the corners of my TV about new network series but being besieged by a four alarm fire every ten minutes about a show that sucked even in the eighties is where I draw the line. And a lot of times this will happen over subtitles which is even more frustrating. I mean it’s not like I’m watching French films or anything. Usually what I’ve got on is about a bunch of rubes whose grasp of the English language is such that you need written explanations of what they’re saying, but still! There should be special consideration taken with ads anytime there are words pertaining to the actual programming being displayed.
Then you have shows which feel the need to entice you to come back with their pre-commercial trivia. Take Pawn Stars for example. Every time they cut to break you’re posed with a question like this:
First of all, I don’t give a shit! Or at least I thought I didn’t, but the truth is I’m one of the most competitive people I know so when given a challenge, I’m going to accept it. Unfortunately, I’m not often very good at things I find myself being competitive at which is why these stupid trivia questions always annoy the crap out of me. In this instance I would have said “C. Horse Race” for sure because anything having to do with cars would be too obvious and a balloon race doesn’t even make sense since that would take place over a number of miles. So a horse race makes the most sense and I win.
Are you effing kidding me?! A balloon race! How does that even work? The stupid speedway must have been either the start or the finish line but it’s certainly not where the entire race took place. This thing is rigged and now my entire afternoon is ruined! Enough with the damn trivia. I’m already watching a half wit attempting to out maneuver his boss in a hot dog selling competition. How much more incentive to finish the show do I need?
Then there are the tickers that run across the bottom of the screen giving us all sorts of information about things we have absolutely no use for. I know the most famous one is the feed that CNN uses to fill everyone in on a floating Coors Light can they thought was the missing Malaysian airliner but I’m not even trying to pretend like I watch a news network. I went straight to the E! channel for an example of this because it was an hour of the day on Earth and that meant an episode of the Kardashians would be on but even more importantly, so would the never ending gossip line beneath it.
Well thank Christ “life is good” again for Justin Bieber! I was starting to worry that the seventeen minutes he spent in a Beverly Hills detention center would harden him even more than his suburban upbringing in Canada did. Why the hell do I need to know this?! And yes, I realize I’ve admitted to occasionally, while on vacation, succumbing to various forms of gossipy entertainment in the form of US Weekly and the like but at least I have the option to turn the page and choose what nonsense I’m going to immerse myself in. However, this ticker going across the bottom of my television has the same effect on me that a laser light pointed against the wall has on my cat. I can’t help but swivel my head back and forth to follow the breaking news about James Franco’s “questionable underwear selfie”. And now I’ve missed what Kourtney’s said about growing out her bangs!
The absolute worst offender in my opinion though are when networks offer “super” editions of certain series with fun facts placed throughout the episodes followed by tweets from fans. What a shit show this turns out to be.
I absolutely cannot resist these tidbits. I’ve tried but my focus keeps coming back to them, making my viewing experience an exercise in multitasking. This one is from a show called My 600 Pound Life about a woman named Tara who is about to undergo lap band surgery to try and lose weight. Tara just said verbally that “she gained a large amount amount of weight following the pregnancy of her son” about six seconds before this fact materialized in the left corner. So now I’m reading what I just heard only a moment ago and missing what’s being said now. However I shouldn’t worry too much because there will probably be a fun fact recap of the thing I just missed due to the initial fun fact in another eight seconds.
Then they go so far as to broadcast tweets from the idiots who are watching along with me. I wouldn’t normally be so harsh but I absolutely despise the misuse of the word literally and no Kimberley@sambrooklyn, you cannot literally eat your issues! So now I’m fighting with other people embroiled in Tara’s weight loss battle, not to mention I’m bombarded with the station logo as well as an ad for the new episode of the Little Couple on Tuesday at 10/9 central.
Like I said before, I understand that advertisers are strapped for places to insert their products but my cable bill is close to $180 per month. That should at least excuse me from being assaulted by three to four different agendas at a time. And as far as the constant streams of information flying my way at any given moment are concerned, they’ve become so overwhelming it’s enough to make me want to read a book.
Wait a minute!
No it isn’t. I’m sorry. I got carried away.