Thursday, September 14, 2006

the state of the entertainment industry...

Is Hollywood really that stupid, or are they so condescending and pretentious that they just believe the rest of the country is that much dumber?

I was reading an article on The Chicago Tribune website about a new radio show starting on Monday Morning on Q101. The article interviewed the head writer for the as-yet unnamed show, Second City vet Michael McCarthy. I found the following bit of the interview to be very interesting:

Q. How will doing a radio show in Chicago be different from the stage show in L.A.?

A. In L.A., if you were going to do a show based entirely upon a week's worth of news, the first thing you had to do was tell the audience the news because they didn't know. In Chicago, people know. People are more informed. ... There's this concept that's drummed into you at Second City: Work at the height of your intelligence and assume that the audience is at least as smart as you.* ... I'm so tired of going into pitch meetings in L.A. and being told, "Hey, I get it. But it's those people in Ohio or the Midwest who won't get it." And then I come home back here and my family goes, "Why is TV so stupid?" So that's the appeal of the radio show, to work at the height of our intelligence. The only other time I was able to do that was "Sesame Street."

Q. How so?

A. Because the goal is so pure. You never talk down to kids, because they sense it immediately. Education being the goal is intimidating but fun. When I first started there, I never realized how much innuendo was part of my writing, so I had to relearn everything. You can't have Oscar going, "Check out Maria. ... "

As an adult I daresay this is a sense I still have. Why have we let the entertainment industry get away with this pretension and condescension for so long? Why do we continue to allow them to talk down to the rest of us?

That being said... as much as I miss Mancow's Morning Madhouse. I am looking forward to the new show...

PS: McCarthy is right about that Oscar/Maria sexual tension.

*emphasis mine


dantallion said...

Thank you for this - It's a frustration that builds in me more and more all the time. This business of catering to the lowest common denominator is not only frustrating, I would also say that ultimately, it's dangerous for our society. If you bombard the people with this crap for long enough, eventually it becomes what they come to expect, and finally all that they can handle intellectually. We've seen it in the music industry. We're seeing it in TV (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Survivor being a major turning point, in my opinion - Networks all jumped on board with these cheap-to-produce reality tv shows after that, and stopped investing in much of any substance). They say a society ultimately gets judged by it's arts and culture - so what is our culture saying about the direction we're going? And how will OUR culture (or lack thereof) end up being judged in the future? As nothing more than a Big Mac in a syrofoam container, I suspect.

Isn't it ironic that intelligently written material is the stuff that often enjoys longevity AND critial acclaim? But the industry (and sponsors) no longer seem to be cluing into that - opting instead for cheap-to-produce, sensationalised drek that fits perfectly in a 22 minute time frame.

Sorry for the novel.

PS: Blogger-beta deosn't let me post comments using my regular blogger account anymore. Grrrrrrr. I lost my comment the first time as a result!

Anonymous said...

I haven't been able to comment either!

I wholeheartedly agree with both of you. The decline of Western Civilization will be blamed on our artistic production and the brain-dulling that it's inspired.

St. Dickeybird

Layla said...


Excellent point and question at the end...I often wonder who all the "dumb" people are. Most of the people I know are informed and intelligent and very insulted by a lot of what Hollywood does to the media/news.

David Amulet said...

Interesting comment. I agree--the savvy of the "average" viewer is underestimated in Hollywood. The real test is whether decades of dumbing down have actually made the audience less capable of enjoying the better material.

-- david