Value Added Television?

Have you seen these "Life After" disaster shows on History channel? Basically, the premise is that earth's population is at zero. What will happen? Stay tuned! For the next 60 minutes, you can watch paint peel, steel rust and concrete crumble until the Empire State building tumbles into the decaying NY streets and neighboring skyscrapers.

What is the point of such a production? "What have God wrath?" the ad spot cries out. The real question is: who cares? If earth's population is zero, what is the point in seeing what will happen?What value does this add for a supposedly "educational" cable network viewer? How much money was spent on this waste of airtime?

My feeling is that this is merely an extension of the Demolition "reality" shows. Everyone likes watching destruction, and admit it, when one of these demolition crews touches off their charges you want to see destruction and mayhem. Maybe the building will crash through its neighbor, instead of imploding within its footprint?

With the "Life After" series, now you can watch all of this random destruction happen with the wonders of CG graphics. The Golden Gate bridge falls into San Francisco Bay, or the Space Needle falls like a redwood tree down the middle of the street. Anything is possible in this show. But I ask again, what is the point of observing something that we presumably won't observe in the future? I don't get it.

This kind of TV production seems to me as non-value added. It defies any real useful purpose. Now, before you open fire on me and say: Bryan, TV is entertainment - it doesn't have to be value added! - just stop right there. I'm talking about productions that are billed as "educational". I can think of a few shows or channels that are actually value added: public television is one. C-Span (o.k., stop laughing) is another. News channels are a distant third place. But History, TLC, National Geo, etc. are getting increasingly more "entertaining", dare I say sensationalized? In this way, it is difficult for me to see a difference between many channels. Shock and controversy doesn't always make for good television, does it?


At April 24, 2009 at 8:49 AM , Blogger Mark Graban said...

There's a good reason that some call this "environmentalist porn" for those who hate mankind and think that we're all that's wrong with this planet.


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