Truth in advertising might not be a bad concept, if it applied to television programming. Okay, “C” for “crap” might be too general and subjective, but why can’t a specialty channel actually show programs related to what the specialty is supposed to be?
I’ve heard complaints that MTV—the originator of the music channels, obviously—rarely shows music anymore. Can’t back that up, because I don’t watch it.
But I do know that CMT—Country Music Television—has decided that people who watch it don’t really watch it for country music, but to cry for the trials and ordeals of “real” people like Dallas cheerleaders, Coyote Ugly barmaids, and cowpeople. (Cowpeople are not some scientifically engineered cross between the bovine and humans, but I’m sure it’s politically incorrect now to distinguish between cowboys and cowgirls, and “cowdudes” and “cowdudettes” just takes too long.)
Now, I like cowboys. Even cowgirls. Used to be in love with Roy Rogers, or at least Trigger. Won a trivia contest by knowing Dale’s horse was named Buttermilk. But I’m heartless: I don’t care about a handful of people trying to rope and ride. Don’t care who falls off, don’t care who wins. I roped a big old Jersey cow off Smokey, my little Shetland pony, when I was about 9. Got dragged half a country mile, and I learned fast what to do and not do. Guess I think grownups should be a little smarter. Or maybe I just would rather ride than watch riders. But I don’t tune in to a music channel for cow stuff.
Luckily, of course, there’s choice. If a viewer feels, as I do, that reality cowboydom is well… dumb, he or she can instead watch the “reality” of becoming a booted, dancing barmaid, or a Cowboys cheerleader. I can’t help asking myself whether or not these women really went through obstacle courses before the path to career success began in front of a camera. But eventually, I lose interest even in that question. I’m not putting those driven women down, and I’m sure they make a lot better living serving drinks or cheering teams than I do teaching. That’s fine. But I wouldn’t watch them in real life, and I sure don’t want four hours of their tortured existence on as background noise when I write.
Music channels may be the most affected by a lack of truth in program advertising, but some of the others are suspect, too. TBS offers “very funny programming” by whose standards? And some of the “family” station offerings leave me with my mouth open. Whatever happened to Lassie? Heck, I’d be delighted to see reruns of Growing Pains, Cosby, or Fresh Prince if I could escape some of today’s offerings.
Still, since I usually want something I can listen to while thinking about other things, with the occasional glance at some particularly noteworthy video (Emerson Drive’s “Moments” et al) the lack of music on country music channels annoys the heck out of me. Recently, even the musical offerings on my former favorite station involve voting, scrawls (I can never not read scrawls. It’s a serious life issue with me.) and all kinds of distractions tossed in like confetti. The music gets lost in the deluge of nonsense.
Currently, in our area, one of the Country Used-to-Be Music TV competitors is bashing CUMTV for their lack of music and focus on all that annoying “real” stuff. Ironically—they’re throwing more and more non-music stuff our way, too. Sigh. Soon, the only way to obtain music will be to fall back on dinosaur-age technology like audio recordings.
Truth in advertising aside, that old cliché about voting with your remote makes a lot of sense. My vote is in, “reality” and barmaids and cowpeople are out…wonder if music stores still sell music CDs?