American TV, what happened to you?
I’ve now been in the USA for two weeks. People may go on about the greatness of American television, but based on my limited sampling experiences so far, it’s not exactly a fabulous thing to watch. For instance:
– they think nothing of putting heavy-taxing dramas like House or CSI: SVU on at 9am. And really, my brain does not want to be processing the implications of a 16-year-old pregnant girl trapped with a ranting religious nutcase at 9am on a Tuesday morning.
– they showed Casino Royale (the testicle-crushing version) at 10am
– Fox News’s morning show is called Fox And Friends. And features two staidly white men in suits and a blonde woman sitting in the middle, wearing a short skirt and a top that looks like she stumbled out of a New York nightclub three hours ago. And it makes no pretensions about its’ core viewership – it endlessly goes on about the potential Republican frontrunners for a Presidential election that’s 18 months away
– the Disney Channel has an endlessly perky computer-animated Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that has all the subtlety of a brick hitting a television
– Reality TV has truly gone mad here, with a speciality in watching privileged women act like they’re still in school, and accuse each other of ‘dissing’ each other, before burying the hatchet and being best buddies again. Usually in 45 minutes.
– MTV and VH1 seem to have just become entertainment channels – VH1 has reality shows instead of music
– Comedy Central dearly needs to break out of stand-up comedy specials from 5 years ago, and repeats of The Daily Show and the Colbert Report
– the one time I was in a house that had BBC America, it was showing …. Blade Runner. Very British.
And the commercials. Oy vey, the commercials. It’s an endless cycle of relentless plugging of fast food and buffets, which will probably deteriorate your body to the point when it needs a wonder drug. Luckily, the next ad is for said wonder drug that may cause side effects “including heart attacks which may lead to death”. Then up next is an ad for a hospital that promises the very best in health care. (And a part of me wonders how can a hospital that has to spend money in advertising be really promising the very best in health care?)
Of course, I could just be missing Dave and their endless re-runs of comedy panel shows and Top Gear… but darn it, it suited me down to the ground!
Only in America…
would they want to charge overseas tourists $10 to register for the privilege of visiting America. So they can fund a travel tourism promotion group aimed at … getting overseas tourists to come to America. And explain to tourists why they have to be fingerprinted and give away lots of their personal details.
Nothing like being scanned for fingerprints and asked if I was involved in a Canadian drink-driving incident in 1994 to make one feel welcome when entering the land of liberty and freedom. Looks like I’ll have to pay an extra $10 for the privilege soon…
What's in New York?
My siblings and I are basically looking at taking my parents to New York for a major celebration.
This is a great idea with the only flaw being that parents being parents, we’re not really sure of their hobbies and walking miles upon miles of city streets isn’t quite an option either. The main reason for taking them to New York is that they’ve never been to the United States before, and it’s a world-class city with major tourist attractions.
That said, the list of places we’re thinking we could take them mostly consist of:
Empire State Building
Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island
Can you think of touristy places in New York (or the surrounding area) that don’t require much brain or feet power?
btw, I’m flying through New York, Cleveland, Las Vegas and Phoenix in April if you’re interested in following my trip!
On this almost historic day…
(It does have to be pointed out that 20 years from now, we’ll think of today in the same way we think of the Moon landings. Cool, but let’s get back to reality…)
American mass debating…
So I settled down to watch the American Presidential debating thing last night, and was wondering how long it would take for the first insult attempt to waft through the airwaves. It didn’t take long – McCain was barely out of the gate before the first volley appeared. They really ought to instigate a rule that you cannot bash the other candidate’s background or personality.
The British political parties keep resisting the idea of “American-style” TV debates, although I’m not too sure why. We’ve pretty much embraced the other parts of American political campaigning – the mass rally, snide political advertising… although from my memory of the last election, British political (non-TV ads) keep aimlessly bashing the other party. At least the American political TV ads over here give you reasons not to vote for Obama/McCain/section 6.
The opinion polls seem to show a rise in Obama’s standing – although naturally I can’t trust opinion polls. Especially after the British elections of 1992 which consistently reported people saying they were going to vote Labour, but they voted Tory in the end. Essentially, people were too ashamed of wanting to vote for the Tory party that promised tax cuts at the expense of the economy. I can’t help feeling in a gut instinct way that this is being mirrored in the opinion polls in the US – especially when the only election graffiti I’ve seen was in a toilet at Detroit airport with a crude rude caricature of Obama.
And was it just me, or did McCain walk around as if he was a puppet? Very stiff, Frankenstein-like. And the only person he tried to ‘physically connect’ to was a soldier. Does he do that to every soldier he meets? It makes it seem like joining the military is the biggest country golf club in the world. (Then again, Obama didn’t touch anyone at all if memory serves)
The British elections are going to be so tediously dull. If only because for Labour to win would take a miracle at this point, I fear.
One image to represent America…
Imagine you’re quintessential Englishman Stephen Fry – who, naturally, is a geek of Jewish Hungarian stock. He’s spent the last few months travelling the land of the United States, and naturally, has written a book and TV programme about it.
Now you have to publicise said book in a book launch. What’s the one image of America you need to sell the book to a British press? Find out.
This – no doubt hilarious – book joins other ones on the shelves dedicated to explaining America to a European readership. Although given the huge amount of press coverage the American elections get in the UK, I’m not sure anything needs explaining.