What happened to MTV, CNN and ESPN?
I'm so old that I can remember when they played music videos on MTV, talked about news on CNN and recapped sports on ESPN.
Today, MTV gives us a steady stream of less-than-interesting, somewhat scripted "reality" shows, CNN gives us frivolous celebrity "news" and ESPN spends an hour talking about feelings and contracts, leaving precious little time to talk about the sports that actually happened.
MTV, for those who don't know, stands for Music Television, and got off with a bang when it signed on with the Buggles song "Video Killed the Radio Star." Apparently, the "Real World" killed the video star.
I guess there's nothing wrong with "The Hills" or "Made" or any of the other shows. I've even watched a few of them. But when my cable package numbers nearly 200 channels, you'd think one -- one -- could play music videos. Even VH1 (Video Hits 1) has what it calls "Celebreality," which is usually Flavor Flav or Bret Michaels trying to woo the kind of girls you wouldn't bring home to your parents.
CNN started out well, showing news happens all over the world all 24 hours, not just in a 30 minute evening broadcast. Now they show how good they are at ignoring that news is constantly happening by doing continuous coverage of the celebrity death/feud/misspeak du jour.
A lot of people tell me that Fox News is conservative, and CNN is liberal. I don't see it. I think CNN is garbage news (with one exception: Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria's show Global Public Square, or GPS.)
I don't know that there's liberal or conservative coverage of Michael Jackson's death, but I know for certain there's too much of it. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a sign of the apocalypse that Walter Cronkite's death didn't get as much coverage as Anna Nicole Smith's. Walter probably would have scolded them if he saw them covering his death in that way.
Other alternatives, like MSNBC, are unabashedly liberal, just like Fox News is unabashedly conservative. I think that's generally OK as long as people can sort out what's news and what's opinion. What I don't like about either is the constant obsession with trying to predict what's going to happen later today, tomorrow or next week. News isn't what is going to happen. That's speculation, tea leaves or crystal balls. News is what just happened recently, accurately reported.
ESPN also started quite strong, recapping highlights of every baseball or football game, offering insight and analysis. They still do some insight and analysis on some of the shows set aside for such things, but on "SportsCenter," the flagship show, we have anchors who are constantly debuting stupid phrases looking for that one that will become their signature "catch phrase." I'm not sure why I should be subjected to that. Go practice in front of a mirror, Skippy, and tell me if the Twins won or not.
We're definitely in the age of the "touchy-feely" "SportsCenter." It seems like every other story is about how Kobe and Shaq have tension between them, whether LeBron James was right or wrong to not shake opponents' hands, whether Terrell Owens will be happy in Buffalo, whether Brett Favre will sign a contract with the Vikings or not, how Tiger Woods "feels" about losing a golf tournament.
The truth is, I don't care about how T.O. feels, and I barely care about how he performs on the field. What I would love is some real analysis of the upcoming or recently completed games. Seems like there's no time for that.
I'm tired of hearing about what some athlete said on Twitter, and I don't care at all about the charity they've named after themselves. I might have a passing interest in whether a certain athlete's ACL is healed or not. But I'd love for once to have "SportsCenter" focus on the players who are on the field. They get all but ignored, unless they act like fools or get fined or date someone famous.
Wouldn't it be great to have just one channel I'd like -- one that gives me the news in the morning, followed by a recap of sports, and plays music videos the rest of the day?
Keep dreaming. That would crowd out one of the 200 other crummy channels whose names don't match their content.