During the 24 seasons The Simpsons has been on the air, one of its many highlights has been the program’s ability to spoof the video game industry.
Invariably, video and arcade games are shown in a satirical vein, with an abundance of violence, blood or simple inane themes (witness the My Dinner with Andre game).
I’m partial to Billy Graham’s Bible Blaster, which, not surprising to fans of the show, belongs to Rod and Todd Flanders, progeny of ultra-religious Simpson neighbor Ned Flanders.
As Bart plays for Bible Blasters for the first time, Rod can be heard proffering the following advice: “Keep firing, convert the heathens!”
Point is, for all Wikipedia’s occasional flaws with self-sourcing and people trying to disseminate inaccurate or deliberately misleading information, there may be no better website for knowledge junkies.
Imagine if the average person substituted a half an hour of television viewing each day for a 30 minutes of Wikipedia. (Provided, of course, they didn’t spend that half hour on Wikipedia reading about the show they were no longer watching.)
Sure, we’d likely have some folks spouting off a lot of useless trivia, but at least they wouldn’t be talking about worthless network programing.
My four girls – ages 11, 10, 10 and 8 – still stare agog at me when I explain to them that once there was a time, long, long ago, when cartoons were a once-a-week treat, the sole motivation needed to pop out of bed on a Saturday morning.
In today’s world where entire networks are devoted to animation and stations run cartoons 24 hours a days, seven days a week, 365 days a year, it’s difficult for my girls to imagine a time and place where kids’ programming occupied such a small part of the television week.
(They also are completely baffled by the idea of a 13-inch television that got exactly three, count ‘em three, channels, but that’s a different story.)
Yet for all the seemingly endless hours of kids’ programming available today, the vast majority of it pales in comparison to what was available during the days of Saturday morning-only cartoons.
This is not only my own rose-colored remembrance of the past, either. Judging from the way my daughters gather eagerly around me when I grab my computer and ask who wants to watch Bugs Bunny, I’d say they’re as enamored with Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies as I was when I was their age.
I introduced them to Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the Warner Bros. gang roughly two years, when, while perusing YouTube, I decided it was time to show them what real entertainment was all about.
This blog doesn’t spend much time debating the merits of various television programs, but it will, on occasion, include a well-done review.
Hence, this paragraph from Slate:
The new worst show on television debuted Wednesday night on Lifetime – Dance Moms, an ugly docu-circus featuring a megaton bully of a Pittsburgh dance instructor, the little princesses she costumes as lunatic street whores, and a quorum of strenuously pathetic stage mothers, one of whom warbles that she would slit her wrists if her daughter even thought of trying out for softball. The only good that could come of the show would be for it to motivate a child protective services officer to orchestrate a SWAT raid, condemn the dance studio as a public nuisance, and deprogram the girls posthaste.
It’s curious to see how some bloggers’ minds work. Take Bryan Caplan of EconLog, named one of the Wall Street Journal’s Top 25 Economics Blogs.
As a bit of background, Caplan is an associate professor of Economics at George Mason University. He is also the author of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies. According to the EconLog website, Caplan’s current project is a new book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think.
Caplan generally does a pretty good job writing about economics, but every once in a while he gives a glimpse as to why university types occasionally are referred to derisively as “eggheads.”
Just when you thought television news couldn’t get any worse, we get this.
In late September, Pittsburgh TV station KDKA ”broke” the news of an assault on the Grove City College campus by an individual dressed in a panda suit.
In breathless fashion one might more readily associate with the ongoing activities of a serial killer, KDKA does it’s best to make Everest out of an anthill.
“What happened last weekend at the Grove City College campus isn’t the kind of bear attack you might normally hear about on the news,” reporter David Highfield intones. “In this case, it wasn’t really a bear, but a man dressed as a bear in a panda costume.”
The State newspaper’s recent puff piece on South Carolina Educational Television’s celebration of its 50th year of existence was, like ETV itself, not very long on style and even shorter on substance.
The piece begins by highlighting the upcoming festivities surrounding ETV’s anniversary, talks about the station “regulars” who will be on hand (including The Cat in the Hat!), and adds a smattering of background:
“What began as an education experiment broadcast into a handful of South Carolina classrooms is now a statewide network with multiple TV channels and ETV Radio,” the paper writes. “ETV, which produces programming seen and heard nationally, is still in the classroom with TV programming and online resources.”
Waldo Lydecker’s Journal offers a thoughtful look at why Gov. Mark Sanford’s veto of more than 50 percent of state funding for South Carolina ETV, the state’s educational television operation, may not be a bad thing.
A little background: South Carolina is in the midst of a serious budget shortfall. The state’s general fund budget has been cut by more than $2 billion over the past two years because of falling tax collections related to the economic downturn and twice this year the Budget and Control Board has had to make across-the-board general fund cuts, totaling nearly $439 million.
In addition, The pending budget includes about $1 billion in federal stimulus money. That cash will be gone by this time next year and state tax collections aren’t expected to recover fast enough from the recession to offset that loss, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
Sanford wants to cut a little more than $5 million from SC ETV’s budget. Frankly, it’s somewhat hard to rationalize the state funding SC ETV gets considering, for example, that a good portion of its daytime programming has remained unchanged for at least a decade, with shows such as Clifford the Big Red Dog, Dragon Tales, Arthur, and Barney and Friends being long-running staples.
Waldo argues that Sanford’s veto should, at a minimum, begin discussions on what the public television station’s mission is:
Sanford’s rationale is a defensible one – most of ETV’s programming activities don’t line up very well with the core functions of state government. He argues there are federal and private funds sufficient to enable ETV’s K-12 educational programming to continue.
There’s a lot of places where the governor just says to agencies, go somewhere else to find the money – often to the federal government, where people like him, when he served, and his colleagues there today, try to zero out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting every federal budget cycle.)
That’s a defensible position. ETV presents two faces to the state: the educational and training programs it offers – which the general public doesn’t see – and the canned TV and radio programming it buys and slaps on the air for the general public in between their interminable fundraising campaigns on the air, and their endless radio begging for used cars and death bequests from elderly listeners.
It’s homegrown programming is sporadic, its news operations all but nonexistent.
Maybe it is time to cut it back to its original function. There’s plenty of other PBS outlets to watch Lawrence Welk and quarter century old Britcoms on. There’s a lot of really informative programming available out there that never makes it on ETV because the threshold of liberal agenda” charges here is so low. Maybe having to scratch harder for support would encourage creative ideas for local, cheaper programming on a level somewhat above The Gardener’s Hee-Haw, Making It Grow.
It must have been a slow news day for WIS last Tuesday. That’s when the Columbia television station ran a story that began:
A WIS News 10 viewer says she found a sign of religious intolerance in South Carolina near Alpine and Polo Roads a few days ago.
Susan Quinn says someone spray-painted a litter pick-up sign because it read “Islamic Academy SC.”
Apparently, a vandal with red spray paint covered over the academy’s name. Watching WIS’s segment on the incident, it would appear that whomever sprayed the sign specifically targeted just the name of the academy. Separate signage directly above and below the academy’s name was untouched.
However, it wasn’t enough for WIS to report on the vandalism; they needed to find a Cassandra (or, more likely, she sought out the station) for comment.
“I could say that it shocked me, but given the level of hatred and bigotry and intolerance that we see in our country today, I wasn’t surprised,” said Susan Quinn.
Really? Goodness knows we don’t live in a perfect society by any stretch of the imagination, but to effectively imply there’s rampant hatred, bigotry and intolerance nationwide is ridiculous.
Are there cretins out there who lie awake at night dreaming about the chance to “retake America” from the (take your pick) illegal immigrants, minorities, feminists, gays, Muslims, etc., etc.,? Sure. Are they a concern? Yes. Do they make up the majority of Americans? Not even close.
“I think a lot of it is fear,” Quinn told WIS. “A lot of people are fearful of a lot of groups different than we are.”
“It’s a fear Quinn worries will spread to the impressionable minds at nearby Polo Road Elementary,” WIS reported.
If that “fear” spreads to the “impressionable minds” and Polo Road Elementary, or any other school, it will most likely be through the words and actions of parents, not some two-bit miscreant who probably doesn’t know the difference between the Islamic prophet Muhammad and Muhammad Ali.
Meanwhile, Ms. Quinn would do well not to simplistically categorize the nation as being full of hateful, intolerant bigots. Just because one hasn’t attained Ms. Quinn’s level of “enlightenment” doesn’t mean one wishes evil on those who are different.
Apparently, the good folks at WIS-TV don’t get out much.
How else to explain the photo that ran Tuesday with the television station’s story about a pair of legislative bills that would add a fee to prepaid cell phones cards and Internet phone lines to help pay for local 911 service?
The lead article, it was accompanied by a photo of the State House dome, complete with American, South Carolina and Confederate flags waving.
The problem is, it’s been nearly a decade since the Confederate flag was taken off the dome and moved to a spot out front of the State House. In other words, WIS-TV is sprucing up its lead story with a file photo nearly a decade old.
WIS’s studios are slightly less than half a mile from the state capitol, according to Mapquest, so it’s even harder to fathom why the station can’t be bothered venturing over to update its photo files.