Sunday, March 27, 2005

Too Much of a Good Thing

TV ruins everything.

Everyone has a favorite movie, one that they’ve seen over and over again. Perhaps that experience initially presented itself when said film was first released in theaters. You liked it so much the first time, you had to see again, maybe even taking a friend this time. Then it was released on DVD or video. You just had to own a copy to view whenever you liked. Finally it hits the TV screen, first on cable where it’s repeated endlessly until it reaches its next incarnation on one of the networks, this time in an edited and truncated version with all the good parts cut out or altered in some such fashion. And after the same damn movie, sliced and diced and interrupted by endless commercial breaks…there you are, lapping it all up like a saucer of condensed milk to a hungry kitten.

TV programmers, much like their soulless counterparts in the radio industry, are unimaginative cretins. Therefore, since they don’t have a creative bone in their entire bodies collectively, they basically only offer the viewing public something that has worked before, either a variation of a proven product or the same exact thing. Therefore they will show it over and over and over again, which devalues any worth the original had in the process until it becomes just another goddamn nuisance. It’s playing it so completely safe that it is damaging. Constant repetition on the radio has ruined many a great song. The same thing is happening with movies on TV, especially since there are more channels than ever before. One would think that with the vast library of titles available at their disposal why they keep showing the same goddamn movies on what seems to be an endless loop.

For example, Groundhog Day has been played so often, almost on a daily basis, that it is becoming a parody of itself. I’m turning into Bill Murray. When the alarm wakes me up in the morning, I’m not awakened by Sonny and Cher singing I Got You, Babe, but by Bill Murray being awakened by Sonny and Cher singing I Got You, Babe.
The logical answer is to TURN THE FREAKIN’ CHANNEL, obviously. But honestly, we’re not strong people. We’re weak. If we come across a favorite movie while channel surfing, we can’t help but log a few minutes. Sometimes that leads to watching whatever is left of the whole damn thing. This is even true of edited films on local stations. I myself find it difficult to pass up Fargo, even though it’s been chopped up beyond recognition. Many of the swear words has been redubbed in very odd ways, such as when Steve Buscemi declares that he has, not “a fucking gun” but “a frozen gun”.

What’s going to happen is that many fine films are going to reach the Burn Out Factor with the audience. A movie you may love with all of your heart now will be shown so much that you will eventually not only begin to take it for granted, but pass it up altogether and finally growing to resent it, rolling your eyes and sighing in disdain when it is on for the fiftieth time that week.

Therefore I propose some tough love. I myself am resisting temptation by placing many of my favorites on a five-year moratorium. (Five may be a little severe, but I’ll give it a try). Among these titles are:

The aforementioned Groundhog Day
Silence of the Lambs
-In one version or another, this has been shown more than Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory on I Love Lucy
A League of Their Own-What do you want from me? I like this movie. It’s sappy as hell and way too long, but it features one of Tom Hanks’ best performances, certainly his most quotable. “Ball players? I don’t have ball players! I have girls!”
Die Hard-How about showing this only during the holiday season like A Christmas Story ?
Pulp Fiction -Now that it has reached basic cable, there will be no stopping it.

Other movies that should go away just on general principle-Roxanne, Mrs. Doubtfire and Kindergarten Cop.

There are several more, but this is a good starting point for me. I watched the first half hour of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly last night before I went to bed and almost considered adding it to the list, even though it is my all-time favorite film. The thing is there are volumes of films that I have never seen and should. Viewing the same movies again and again cuts into that time, something that really is a precious commodity. Let’s face it. Life’s too short to keep repeating one’s self, even if it applies to something as trivial as watching our own entertainment. Isn’t the monotony of our daily lives enough to make us want to strive to add a little variety even now and then just to break up the seemingly endless drudgery a little so we don’t turn into a pack of mindless drooling zombies?

I’d love to elaborate a little further but I have to go. Friends is coming on. It’s the one where Rachel makes the trifle for Thanksgiving. I never get tired of that one.
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