March 2, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

O Television, Where Art Thou?:

Maybe you have to be me to have been entertained and even exhilarated by last week’s appearance of Sly Stone at the Grammy Awards. I’ve heard the jokes (“Sly misunderstood the use of the word “gram” in the award name…”) and viewing audiences didn’t really check-in with the broadcast until after the last note was chewed on “American Idol.” But sitting at home wondering whether Sly would show and what kind of shape would he be in… well, it was good “television.”The simultaneous reception of picture and sound, especially live or on a few hours’ delay, can still stir us even in this era of downloaded videos and multiple entertainment platforms. For all the talk about TV’s evitable demise or evolution into some kind of on-demand jukebox, the primary social contribution of television—gathering a huge audience for a simultaneous relay of information—continues apace. Industry wants television to keep changing, because that’s how you sell people new hardware and services. But to dwell on all the different ways you can view a Batman movie in your home is to forget the critical job TV does in weaving a global fabric of humanity.Iraq, the Muslim outrage over cartoon depictions, information about our destruction of the ozone and global warming… regardless of your use of other media, you’re still getting your primary reports from television. And just as important as the distribution of information is TV’s function as a platform for confrontations, both large and small, that might otherwise not take place.Large: Last week the President manipulated old homeland security information about a foiled plot to destroy L.A.’s US Bank Tower in an effort to sell us his domestic spying program. However, our mayor was able to use television to immediately notify viewers that the White House never talked to him about the President’s presentation. Small: Last month David Letterman invited Bill O’ Reilly onto his show and O’Reilly immediately went off on some garbage about people he claimed were outlawing Christmas. Irritated, Letterman called O’Reilly on it, later told O’Reilly it was shameful for him to disparage Cindy Sheehan, and finally told O’Reilly “About 60 percent of what you say is crap.” The convergence of the smallish TV networks the WB and UPN would suggest that a long anticipated consolidation of TV content providers has begun and that the long-time gag about “57 channels and nothing on” has come home to roost. But fewer options won’t necessarily mean television is losing its place or power. Witness the numbers for “American Idol.” Now, why that show and not written shows with actors? Maybe zillions of home video cameras and too many “funniest home video” shows convinced a new generation that they themselves are as entertaining as any television series. The future? “Friends,” starring your actual friends. And, I’m guessing, everybody gets to sing. Even as entertainment and life continue to fold onto each other, TV is still our periscope to the world. And for as much as television delivers to us the worst of man, and I’m thinking of certain men in particular, it also effectively conveys hope. True, you can get a warm feeling from a Hollywood movie. But I found the most encouraging view of our better nature on TV last week, as Yoko Ono and Peter Gabriel combined talents on John Lennon’s “Imagine” at the beautifully produced Olympic opening ceremonies. Music, youth, hope, and a grand pageant dedicated to peaceful co-existence. Available on free, old-fashioned commercial television. Imagine…This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz1) Carson will be the site of a $1 billion a) hydrogen power plant for electricity. b) “Merry Marionettes” Puppet Theater. c) PetSmart “Big Dog” Megastore.2) To avert loss of foreign aid, Hamas may try a) changing its name to “4-H Club”. b) installing a non-Hamas prime minister. c) Tony Blair’s book, “Sucking Up to Uncle Sam.”3) The 2005 U.S. trade deficit set a record due to a) Mideast oil and goods from China. b) a good year for imported hummus. c) a bad year for exported “Hot Wings”.Answer Key1) a) Clean and green.2) b) Did you call Jimmy Carter?3) a) However, the fortune cookies are from Chicago.

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