A Question Of Purity

« November 2005 »

Memo to America's fine cable channels: STICK TO YOUR FUCKING GUNS.

The camel needs a chiropractor. Its load of straw has been infinitesimally increased, and the total load borne now exceeds the animal's capacity to bear it. It has gone too far, and it needs to stop.

If you have started up a cable channel devoted to a specific subject or topic, and you feel the need to "expand" or "evolve" your programming beyond that topic, go fuck yourself. Then, when you're done fucking yourself, go back to work trying to come up with new, better, or even halfway decent shows about your topic.

And no, this is not a rant about how MTV doesn't show videos anymore. MTV gets an out, because MTV's been around for 25+ years. When MTV started, there weren't all that many cable channels. And half the ones that DID exist seemed to do so only to show the Andy Griffith Show non-stop. So it's understandable that over time, MTV's scope would shift from music, to shows about music, to shows about people who make music, to shows about people who listen to music, to shows about people who barely have the mental capacity to detect music. I'm fine with that.

The music video is an artform whose time has passed, anyway. And if it won't die on its own, R. Kelly looks like he'll be more than happy to play Peeing Kevorkian.

What I'm talking about are present-day networks, formed in a 400-channel environment where all you have is your niche. Yet, inexplicably, the channels abandon that niche in search of "broader appeal", and just end up pissing me off.

Once upon a time, there was a Game Show Network. All it showed were "classic" game shows. Crappy-ass game shows. Mostly from the 70's and 80's. And that was fine. Certain things are vital cultural artifacts, and The Gong Show, Match Game, and The Pyramid Of Varying Dollar Amounts are amongst them. Hell, they even started making their own game shows. But that wasn't good enough for them. They rechristened themselves "GSN", relegated the game shows to hours of the day where, just like my childhood, I'd have to be sick or insane to watch them, and filled prime-time with reality shows and Celebrity Blackjack. FUCK YOU.

Charles Nelson Reilly could, right now, kick Omarosa's ass, and we all know it.

G4. The video game network. It's graced these pages many a day, but always for some fucking stupid shit they put on that was, and this is crucial, ABOUT VIDEO GAMES. Sure, it's sad that their best show was something they acquired from another network, but again, ABOUT VIDEO GAMES. Then it started to get weird, with some auto racing shows that aired late on weekends. Easily avoidable.

Then, they picked up the rights to "Fastlane", the one-season, McG, retardo action show that's been on at least three other cable networks before this. Its connection to video games is completely nonexistent, yet the fucking thing is ALWAYS ON. And when it's not on, they're showing reruns of The Man Show.

WHAT THE FUCK. I know videogamers are frequently, and justly, portrayed as sad masturbators, but The Man Show? Four times a day? No. More shows about video games, please. I'll even take a second round of Videogame Vixens. I won't WATCH it, but it won't piss me off. Well, OK, it'll piss me off, but it'll piss me off less than it would have before you started running the Kimmel-Corolla Functional Illiteracy Hour.

All this has been going on for a while, but a commercial yesterday forced my hand. As a sign of things to come, it's a dark harbinger indeed. This weekend, on the Cartoon Network, they will be showing Tim Burton's 1989 film, "Batman".

Now, if any station has a mandate with a hard and fast line that shall not be crossed, it's the Cartoon Network. They are the Cartoon Network. They show cartoons. Cartoons are animated. They do not have Jack Nicholson's body in them. You can stretch the "animated" definition all the way down to "12 Oz Mouse", but stretching it the other way, to a movie full of nothing but people and a complete absence of drawings, is completely fucking ridiculous.

SHOW CARTOONS. There isn't a shortage of 'em. You've got a whole second channel devoted to running the ones you don't have time to run on your main channel. This isn't too much to ask, really. It's not a burden. Those two hours next Saturday could be filled by virtually anything and get ratings as good as Batman. And it wouldn't cause an ontological crisis, as long as it was a FUCKING CARTOON.

Go down this path, and within six months, Lifetime could be showing a movie that isn't about a woman in danger. And then we'll really be through the looking glass, won't we?