I remember when I would be excited to get home from work to see some show on cable TV. I would forgo some purchase to make sure my cable bill was paid on time. But today I am no longer in love with cable TV. In fact shows like those that have Honey Boo Boo as a subject killed cable for me. I’ve decided that the crap on cable has overwhelmed the good and I can’t justify spending my money on crap any longer.
I was channel surfing the other day and it finally hit me. Cable TV generally sucks. It used to be you could find some good shows on one of the channels or you could set it on one channel and watch it all day but I can’t do that any more.
Here are a few reasons I now hate cable TV:
At the top of the blame is “reality” TV and channels that care only about the bottom line.
It reminds me of those minstrel shows that were popular back in the early 20th century. These were theater shows that included people who performed characters as extreme stereotypes of African-Americans – sometimes even having white people use blackface makeup. The white audience would attend these shows to laugh and be entertained by the extreme racism.
“Reality” shows like Honey Boo Boo work the same way. It’s for people to laugh and be entertained by the extreme stereotype that Honey Boo Boo and her family represent (white trash). Even her “endearing” nick name – Honey Boo Boo – invokes that minstrel show era and when Hollywood’s black characters had names like Stepin Fetchit or “Stymie” as seen in the Our Gang comedies.
The Honey Boo Boo show is the worse case. It’s the spectacle. People watch these shows as some kind of sick entertainment. You think you are better than the characters you see on TV and that makes you happy for yourself. But these are real people acting sort of like they are in real life.
Making fun of people of perceived lower social status isn’t entertainment to me. I guess it’s my experience of being bullied when I was kid. These shows are essentially bullying no matter if the subjects agreed to appear on the show or not. Just like I refuse to support blackface mistral shows I refuse to watch these reality shows or the channels that promote these shows like TLC – which I now call the Freak Channel since much of their programing is something you might find in a Circus side show.
There aren’t enough good reality shows like Mythbusters to offset the crappy TV cable charges for.
The operators of the cable distributors don’t help this situation since they demand that channels have a sizable audience to either justify them paying a certain fee to show it or to keep it on their system. Just this past week Time Warner Cable dropped a channel and plans to drop more they feel aren’t worth the price they pay to carry it.
Of course the number of eyeballs is the wrong thing to depend on since crap shows like Honey Boo Boo get a lot of viewers. That doesn’t mean the show has a cultural value or should be something our country must have. Popularity is a false way of determining value.
Don’t get me started on the junk science and outright fakery on some of the channels. Anything with “ghost” in the title – and there are a lot of them – is the epitome of the woo crap on cable.
Another issue I have with cable TV is the repeats.
USA network shows NCIS, NCIS LA, and all the Law & Order versions constantly. TNT shows the Jason Bourne and National Treasure movies constantly. Spike shows the Star Wars movies constantly and on on and on. I’m just tired of it. Those are good shows and movies but seeing them constantly just makes me like them less and less each time.
I use to watch the Military Channel but they only show World at War, shows about making the cut in special forces, and stupid weapon count down shows now.
Take away these repeats and these channels aren’t worth the money they charge. I don’t subscribe to HBO or the other premium channels for the same reason. Yes I want to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster maybe once but not several times during the month and I feel the same way about old TV shows.
TV shouldn’t be considered a passive noise box you have on while cleaning the house. That’s what radio is for and much cheaper than a cable package.
Sports bias from ESPN and others
Finally I am done with the sports monopoly that is ESPN, NBC, and FOX.
Not having any bowl games on in prime time on the broadcast networks on New Years day really pissed me off. All the major games were on ESPN – a cable channel that is the most expensive channel to offer in cable packages and using tax dollars for profit. That just doesn’t seem fair at all.
Then the sports channels only show the major market teams like those in New York all the time. Lesser populated cities or less popular teams are lucky if they get any TV coverage. ESPN also focuses 99% of their programing on football, baseball, and basketball. If you want to see much of any other sport you have to drop cable.
Again I understand the need to make a profit so they program for what they know will draw an audience but the bias on major market teams and major sports perpetrates a biased view by the audience of the value of the other teams and sports.
Then there is ESPN’s coverage of the SEC conference, which by chance they have a major football contract with – imagine that. When a Big 10 team or person gets in trouble, like Ohio State, ESPN commentators are harsh in their words and desire for punishment. When a team or someone in the SEC gets in trouble, say Cam Netwon, ESPN falls over themselves to offer excuses and to down play the violation.
Time for a change
I think cable has lost my favor. There is just too much crap and not enough good programs. The ones worth watching can be seen through other methods like Hulu or Netflix. Sure I will lose out on seeing the programs “live” and have to wait a week or two see them but that still isn’t enough for me to pay for the rest of the crap that passes for programing on cable TV.
Well time to say good bye to cable TV. It just isn’t worth it.