Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Everything Changed (Forever)

Plus ca change, plus c'est la même chose. Just when I thought perhaps not every TV commercial was going to invent its own "technology" to woo your patronage (I am still waiting for "shout in your ear technology" for television itself), documentaries of the sort rerun into the ground by the likes of Investigation Discovery, WE TV and the Bio Channel picked up on a new catchphrase. It's not a sales pitch, rather just lazy writing (on top of their existing illiteracy; an interviewee may get away with "just between you and I" and while we cringe, we know the awful phrase was uttered spontaneously; narration, on the other hand, is scripted and supposedly proofread, maybe even edited, and leaves no possible excuse for its mangling of my mommy tongue. This particular bit of lazy writing, this cliché, is "... changed (his/her/their) life(ves_/everything changed (forever)."

Mary was a happy child. Then something happened that changed her life (dramatic pause) forever. (Cut to commercial.)

Crapville was a peaceful town. Little did they know that in an instant, everything would change (dramatic pause) forever. (Cut to commercial.)

It's getting old, folks. I forgive the recaps after every commercial because the docs themselves are so slow-paced I tend to doze off (which is one reason I keep this kind of show on at night) so the recap can actually be helpful; never mind that they exist because their creators are so sure that your average viewer, coming back from the awfulness of television capitalism, is missing a few more brain cells and needs to be reoriented. I am working on forgiving the shameless recycling (it contains little or no new footage). I even forgive the smarmy tone affected by some of the narrators. Could we just have a moratorium on this particular cliché? It would change my life (dramatic pause) forever.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Listen to Too Much TV

I wrote this on February 18, 2010, and used a blank draft instead of opening a new post. Result: this post ends up with a 2008 date on it, tucked away where it is unlikely to be found. I am therefore copying it and reposting it (minutes, rather than years, after writing it).

Having tinnitis, I listen to too much television. I sleep with it on. I compute with it on. I'm selective about the shows to which I tune in but unfortunately it is not within my power to be selective regarding to which advertisements I am exposed. Therefore I find myself in various stages of mental, emotional and even audial irritation.

Now, Billy Mays is dead, and dead younger than one wants to be dead, and far be it for me to wish someone dead, but since he is dead, couldn't he stop shouting in my ear? And now we have Anthony Sullivan, the purpose of whose existence I have not yet fathomed, trying to be Billy Mays, having reshot a Mays ad for some gadget that lets you play your phone calls over your car radio (not a bad idea but, apart from not being a driver, I would never purchase anything touted that obnoxiously; it only encourages the obnoxious to continue their obnoxiousness) almost verbatim, and in a somewhat Maysian pitch. Sullivan is annoying enough just being himself; trying to be Mays too is toeing the human pain threshhold.

Then there is the creep who thinks if he never takes a breath we won't notice he's talking nonsense; his product, some chopper slicer thingie, may or may not be the eighth wonder of the world, but I can't stand his patter, and someone over at the company that distributes the product agreed with the advertising department or ad agency that it would be a good idea to put this annoyance on the air. My only defense is to refrain from purchasing something I might otherwise actually want.

KMart has jumped onto the screechwagon with a series of ads narrated by a woman with a painfully shrill voice (and how dare she wax so chipper about disturbing my rest!) Light and Fit, on the other hand, slurps at me. I always had to look away during their old commercial: the one in which a slender young blonde woman dispatches some yoghurt, right in the supermarket, with such verve that the sides of the small plastic container collapse inward; she then glances furtively around to see if anyone has witnessed her uncouthness. Now it's worse; in the new ad she is absolutely disgusting, licking the insides of the container, swishing her finger around in it, making the kinds of noises that would get some small children slapped at the table (okay, others would be gently admonished) and being something of a sow. My tum's been rough lately anyway; this ad turns it.

There's more -- oh so much more -- but you probably already know what they are, even if you don't always remember the name of the product (and let this be a lesson to you, o gurus of spin) and I need to sleep now. I just hope the late Billy Mays doesn't wake me up.

photo of Billy Mays courtesy Sharese Ann Frederick

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shot in the Chest Area and Basically Killed

I may have mentioned that I watch too much television. This is not strictly true; I listen to too much television. To counteract tinnitis (which used to be called tintinnitus but somehow managed to lose a syllable during my lifetime) I sleep with the TV on, often tuned to the Science Channel (which gets noisy -- for some reason they think shows about gigantic cranes are enhanced by relentless heavy metal scores) or Investigation Discovery (slower going but generally less noisy). It is from the latter I am learning, and being reminded, and being rereminded, that Americans can't speak English and policepersons, whether they can speak it or not, are unwilling to do so.

Have I somehow missed some legal reason why "the suspect drove into the garage, got out of the car and tried to run away, so the officer shot him in the chest and killed him" has been replaced by "Upon driving into the garage area, exiting the vehicle and proceeding on foot, the officer shot the suspect in the chest area which basically killed him"? I am not presenting the former as a perfect sentence, but the latter is not only ungrammatical (it says, in fact, that the officer got out of the car, when it is the suspect who did so) but hazy (what is the garage area or the chest area and how do you basically kill someone? Is the left arm, for example, part of the chest area? Is the kitchen part of the garage area, or is the lawn? If you are basically killed, are you more or less dead than if you are complexly killed, or would the opposite be "completely killed"?)

The whole matter is giving me a basic pain in my head area.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Product Placement? Entertainment Replacement!

I am not familiar enough with Jimmy Fallon to have formed an opinion about him before tonight. Talk shows haven't been my cuppa since they stopped being about conversation and started being about cheap shots and cheap laughs (which these days translate to the same thing). However, tonight's show's first guest is Dick Cavett, a person who actually knows how to carry on an interesting -- even fascinating, even intelligent, even enlightening --conversation without shouting down his guest, promoting homophobia or making fools out of random street people or audience members. Therefore I tuned in to Fallon's show and suffered through a fairly lame but only mildly offensive (and old! who pokes fun at Bill Clinton's sex drive anymore? who cares?) monologue, a silly but totally inoffensive "finger skating" segment and a horrible bit of business in which a "preacher" (perhaps meant to bear a vague resemblance to James Brown, or perhaps I missed the real reference?) "preached" an endless Subway commercial (there was a real one in the next break). Now what is the purpose of presenting a commercial (pretty straight after all, despite the obvious conviction of the participants that there was some humor involved) right before a commercial? Everyone knows, and perhaps groaningly accepts, that these late night talk shows have more commercial time than show time to start with. The only justification I can imagine for this stupidity is that the alternative may have been more of the same crap, or worse, that passed for a monologue.

And to think I actually LIKE Subway. At this point I'd rather see a real Subway commercial (and they're not all that amusing) than Jimmy Fallon.

Then Cavett came out and although the conversation could not be called cohesive, it was at least coherent, because Cavett took control of it, told stories without being interrupted, joked without being trumped and actually wowed everyone with a rope trick.

When Cavett was done, I was also done, and I assure you, it will take someone of Cavett's presence to woo me back.