October 17, 2008

The Pop in Pop Culture

Oprah Winfrey recently hosted the 60th Primetime Emmy's show. Ze Frank excerpted her introduction and asked for responses.

Here's the edited version of my response:

TV news: producers decide what to produce. editors decide what to show. networks decide when to show it. news personalities bloat until the medium (talking heads) truly does become the message.

TV entertainment: lame, mostly. (I lie. There's plenty I like to watch.)

Yet for 50 years TV was the great agent of homogenization in America. Think Seth Godin's "TV-Industrial Complex."

Re-runs of Get Smart Wild Wild West Little Joe and Hoss Looney Tunes Hogan's Heroes Speed Racer greeted my brothers and me after school. I loved Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom every Sunday night. All in the Family was strangely dangerous Electric Company caused some adults around me to complain about the Cos here's a story of a lovely lady and come everybody there's a song that we're singing and sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip.

Okay, okay. I watched the Donnie & Marie Show if I was home on a Friday night my junior year of high school.

Well, yeah, what I'm saying here is that I have warm fuzzies about TV -- I'm part of the pop in pop-culture.

Nonetheless, my children are better informed, more curious, have greater intellectual independence and are just plain better off than I was by their living in a cable-less, dish-less, very nearly TV-less home.

Exception: we put the rabbit ears on the old TV Set so we could pick up the debates on broadcast TV -- and left them on for Homer Simpson.

Another exception: we have a nicer TV Set and a DVD player and we love movies and yes we do watch DVD's of TV shows that originally aired on broadcast TV. Doh!

Okay, another exception: the girls internet stream Grey's Anatomy more than I even know.

Forgive me, Father Charles, for I have sinned.

Still, my children are better off collecting the news they want to collect, going to sources of their own choosing; they are just as inclined to make their own entertainment as they are to consume entertainment; creativity is not reserved for only those in the rarefied wonderful world of Disney, Warner animation, Twilight Zone writers, network directors and I think you know what I'm saying.

As for Oprah's introduction: it was an homage to her TV kin and an homage to herself. It had no meaning for me. Yet I resist snarkiness.

Afterall, the Emmys are a closed system. Oprah, despite her XM channel and her O magazine, lives in the eternal braid of television purveyors and consumers... she herself is both.

When Oprah looks into the camera she is looking into a mirror. When her audience looks into television sets they are looking into a mirror. These loops braid together. Hofstader and Goedel, Escher and Bach would revel in the recursion.