Friday Firesmith – The Discovery That History Is Dead

Friday firesmithOnce upon a time, in the land of television, there was good programming. I remember once there was a special on George Washington, a multi-part series at that, and I learned a lot about how a man that hadn’t been a very good officer at all for England faced down that nation and began a new one. I learned a lot from nature specials that featured Great White Sharks and how they dive down so deep they could not possible be true cold blooded creatures.

Then came Honey Boo Boo.

Right begin her was one show after another that highlighted half literate folk making a living by killing things. This was History. This was Discovery. This was reality television.  And it sold very well indeed.

What people didn’t know or refused to acknowledge was none of this was really real. Each scene where you had some gap toothed ain’t got no nothin’ hillbilly in a jam there was at least three or four cameras on him, or her, and there were sound men, production people, and a few million bucks worth of equipment out there with them.

Ever notice that there is always some sort of clock ticking on every episode? Something has to happen right now. For a bunch of people who make a living on their own time they sure are in an awful hurry once a camera starts rolling, aren’t they? The clock is ticking on production of the shows. The people there, straw hats and slang slingers, have got all day long to do what they are doing. They’ve been doing it for years.

Now educational television all looks the same. Hard working semi-literate bumpkins embarrass the hell out of themselves in front of viewers who just cannot seem to get enough of hick chic. Why let’s just roll one of those black and white plastic cows over by the pink flamingos we have stuck up by the mailbox and throw down a hoe down ya’ll.

For every long bearded millionaire with a coon dog sleeping on a waterbed on a yacht there are another five million hicks who look just like him, and are wearing shirts with his photo, or his dog’s photo on it, and living in a pieced together single wide on their in-laws back yard over by the pig pen. You’ll find them glued to their wide screen televisions and hoping one day they too can make a living by killing things and speaking a dialect only found in people who graduated in the top 100% of their eight grade class.
This dream is their backup plan just in case they don’t win the lottery.

Of course, television has never been very much more than a vast cultural wasteland and it isn’t likely to change. The few bright spots are candles lit in the darkness of inner space, where thoughts are chased away like mosquitoes that bother us as we try to rest in the evening. The relaxation found in watching ignorant people making a living doing ignorant things cannot be overestimated.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

27 comments to Friday Firesmith – The Discovery That History Is Dead

  • rodzilla

    EXACTLY! I have been trying to figure this one out for years. People seem to want to live in a fantasy world, which bears very little resemblance to real life. If only we all had several “takes”, to get things to work out just right.

  • infidel

    I quit watching tv 20 years ago there is nothing worth watching on tv now

    • grumpy

      Breaking Bad, Sopranos, South Park, Boardwalk Empire, Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, Daily Show to name a few are worth having cable for.

      The ultimate and only true reality shows are sport events.

  • Richard

    Along with the pitiful shows portraying a TV version of country people, let’s not forget such uplifting shows as Jersey Shore or The Housewives of Wherever…

  • xoxoxoBruce

    People don’t want to watch TV people who make them feel inferior. They’d rather watch TV people they can feel superior to and reality TV provides that for everyone

  • Kevin

    [rant] This awful programming is exactly what prompted me to get rid of cable. I used to watch History Channel on all the time. It was my go to channel when I couldn’t find anything else. SyFy Channel, the reason I got cable in the first place, quit showing anything remotely related to their charter. I refuse to pay the cable company an extra hundred bucks a month to get the premium cable, where all the better programming seems to be headed. I understand the FX network is moving some of their shows to FXX? Are the networks and cable companies in cahoots?

    It’s this attitude that brought the downfall of the music industry. There is nothing that is on TV that I can’t find online. Even sports. I can make my own playlist and watch exactly what I want. No more bundling a bunch of stations I don’t want in order to get a couple channels with decent shows. Some of the methods of obtaining it aren’t exactly legal, and the MPAA is busy passing laws to severely punish those who skirt the law (who runs our country?), but there are plenty of legal paths to getting quality programming, for a lot cheaper than cable.[/rant]

  • that1chick

    I agree with you 100%. I watch very little television. I find documentaries on the web much more interesting.

  • Grog

    I might have given up on TV if I hadn’t bought a TIVO system. It’s nice to turn on the stuff I want to watch at the times I’d like to watch it. A DVR is the answer to bad TV. There is more than enough decent programming to fill all the TV time I can tolerate.

    Also, my step-daughter acted a few times on a Miami-based reality show (not the housewives) and I was amused how so many family members were shocked to learn how staged it was. I was shocked that they weren’t noticing all the camera angles either.

  • eyeball

    People have been calling television the “idiot box” for years. Channels like History, Discovery…even A&E USED to have very good, informative programming. It’s astonishing that, even though we are constantly being told to be ‘politically correct’, many of the programs shown these days are the complete opposite – pandering to many stereotypes in the name of entertainment. These production companies make stars out of people you’d never give a second look to, and people at home are glued to their ‘idiot boxes’ and raving about the folks on “Duck Dynasty”, or shows like that.
    Personally, I only turn on the television when I get into bed – whatever’s on will have me falling asleep in minutes!
    I miss watching History Channel, and actually learning something. Now-a-days, all I get from the History Channel is that they have a program with a so-called “expert” who can’t afford a comb.

  • required

    The folks with any brains have abandoned the boob tube and now watch YouTube.

    Go to YouTube and do a search on “smarter every day”. I particularly like “Mystery of Prince Rupert’s Drop at 130,000 fps”

  • Galen

    Every 5 years I have to find a new channel. Started with Discovery after a few years it started going down hill about the same time TLC started. Same story, it was good for a few years and on the decline History channel came around. Blah blah few years later Science channel which has been good the longest. It is starting to go down too though with Firefly and Fringe re-runs and and an Idiot Abroad. H2 and the Military History channel still show some good things. Velocity has some good things too. Just wish there was an a la carte way to get the channels I want. Waiting for the next good one.

  • DJ

    Got rid of the cable and the tv 6 years ago. Haven’t missed it yet. Anything I need I can find online. And then there’s actually the “go outside & get some fresh air” option. For movies, there’s YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, Redbox, and the local library. Watching Spielberg’s “Lincoln” now, free from the library and I can keep it for two weeks..

    When I travel, I’ll spend an hour of hotel room idle time checking out the room’s tv. All that does is convince me that I was right.

  • grumpy

    No matter what country you are in, the broadcast/basic cable available is a reflection on the culture/intelligence of your country. Dis it and you are dissing your country.

    Think about it.

  • Barbwire

    Another former fan of Discovery, A&E, History Channel, TLC. I finally realized I was an idiot to keep my satellite just to watch The Daily Show, so I got Roku and Hulu. Mostly, I read.

  • I’m not saying we changed their programming but the History Channel is actually showing history today.

    Keep the pressure on them guys!

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