Thursday July 24, 2014


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From American Idol to pornography in three strikes


Why must Television do this to me again and again?
Do you remember not too many years ago – at the dawn of what we euphemistically call reality television – when a charming little show known as Freaks and Geeks hit the airwaves for one glorious season?
It was the story of young nerds and burnouts at an early eighties high school that was also something of a launching pad for writer-directors Jake Kasdan and Judd Apatow, actors James Franco, Seth Rogan and Jason Segel, not to mention the dude with the beard in Knocked Up, the alter ego of outrageously geeky Bill Haverchuck, Martin Starr.
We had it for a year – and then it was gone.
That was your first strike, Television.
Recently, one particular – and particularly terrible – cable channel largely known for some of the most unimportant and most uninteresting programming of the modern era decided to resurrect Freaks and Geeks for two hours every Sunday night.
It was wonderful.
But Television abruptly took the series away from me again in favour of weekly installments of So You Think You Can Dance Canada.
Strike two, Television.
During the holidays, also known as The Week that Television Hit Bottom, they had a one-day Freaks and Geeks marathon. The next day was a marathon of American Idol-style competition for tattoo artists.
Strike three! You're out!
My anger doesn't simply revolve around the fact that a well-crafted and genuinely entertaining series is repeatedly losing its spot on the boob tube to faux reality, although that is infuriating. But it is really the fact that Freaks and Geeks is an honest, poignant and hilarious depiction of a real life and real people that is rarely found in television or movies and never found on bizarre popularity contests along the lines of The Voice and The X Factor.
Most of us never did or never would win such popularity contests, let alone join those competitions. Most of us are closer to the characters on Freaks and Geeks – real and honest people who strive for the real and simple successes of graduating from high school, losing our virginity, possibly building mildly rewarding careers that afford us a few dollars and a few weeks to use as we please every year.
And it truly bothers me that we would seem to prefer to watch the faux reality over the real reality – or at least allow Television to convince us that that is what we prefer.
Escapism is fine, but what happens when you're escaping a real reality for a faux reality that so perverts your idea of a worthy personal future that you can't live without your fifteen minutes of fame?
YouTube happens.
Barely legal girls stripping on webcams happens.
Random violence happens.
Pornography happens.
I know this is an old story and an old debate. But it continues and so must the discussion. Because the question that still plagues is: when will it end?
Hopefully, it ends soon enough for us to find our way back to reality.
Because I think we are just like Bill Haverchuk climbing the rope in gym class, unable to climb higher, not sure how to get back down.



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