From Geek Goes Rogue TV Editor Zach Lorton, as told to by his DVR, which is not giving him any wiggle room:
A while back, I stumbled upon a rerun of a kids’ reality show called “Destroy Build Destroy” on Cartoon Network. What drew my attention wasn’t the point of the show — two teams of kids destroy items, then use the wreckage they created to make machines that then destroy other things — but the host, Andrew W.K. I’m a big fan of his music, so to see him hosting a show for kids was a little surprising, and watching his animated antics was pretty entertaining. Actually, he was the most entertaining thing about the show.
Don’t judge me.
I was thinking about that show recently, and I began to see a parallel trending in modern television viewing:
Destroy. Build. Destroy.
The DVR, TiVo, Netflix streaming, Hulu, and other services of the like have absolutely changed the face of home entertainment. First of all, it’s not strictly home entertainment anymore — we can take it out on the town with us, using our laptops, iPhones, Android devices, Kindles, and Nooks to consume what we had to wait to get home to do.
Secondly, we have a wealth of information at our fingertips, and with just the touch of a button, the customizeable entertainment that seemed to be so far off back in 1994 has not only become reality, but it has revolutionized the way we consume. Companies have seen this, and the ones on the forefront of progress have caught the wave, learning how to adapt to this new and ever-changing environment.
Thirdly, we have created communities online around the entertainment we love. We connect with others, most often from a distance, and we share stories about where we were when we saw the final episode of “The Sopranos.” We pontificate over the church of Where “Heroes” Went Wrong. Fans wax philosophical about the finer points of plot lines, character arcs, and the level of badassery in the show “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” And we do it behind whatever level of anonymity we deem necessary.
We have destroyed traditional television.
We have built new roads of entertainment.
And we have destroyed the original community of television lovers in lieu of what the internet has offered us.
All around cities of this country, there are still what I would call grassroots movements. Bars are still putting the Big Game on their 46 televisions. Movie theaters and restaurants have begun viewing parties for popular shows like “Mad Men”, “Arrested Development”, and special events such as the Oscars telecast. It seems as though from the wreckage of traditional television viewing, communities have sprung up championing the older ways of television consumerism, but only a few TV devotees take advantage of these opportunities to meet.
It appears the rise of on-demand entertainment has begun to create a society that seeks to consume first, congregate later. There’s an inherent selfishness embedded in the very need for services like this — we want what we want, when we want it. When we can’t have it, we feel slighted.
Just to give you some perspective, here’s a short list of what’s recorded on my DVR at home:
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (I really wish this wasn’t on it, but it is)
America’s Got Talent
The Amazing World of Gumball
The Annoying Orange
Love It or List It
Let’s Make a Deal
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Who Do You Think You Are?
Adventure Time with Finn and Jake
Under the Dome
Live from the Artists Den
Naked and Afraid
Death in Paradise
Yo Gabba Gabba!
The Pioneer Woman
Sullivan & Son
Hollywood Game Night
…and that’s just the programs that have recorded within the last WEEK. There’s no possible way my wife, the kids she watches during the week, or I could possible watch all that in the amount of time that our DVR recorded it all. I’m still not completely caught up on “Under the Dome”, and when I see three episodes backed up, I wonder if it’s even worth spending 3 hours to find out what’s happening.
On one hand, it is. We consume television for the same reason we go to the movies or read a good book — we want to be entertained. And on the other hand, it’s not. The time I’m watching television is time I could be creating something — writing a blog entry, finishing up a song I’ve written, researching projects for work, heck, even spending some quality time with that awesome wife of mine.
Even the show “The Soup” is made up of stories and video clips from other television shows that are often shown out of context for their comedic value. It’s a television show about watching television shows. It’s essentially its own meme.
I honestly hate the word “fellowship” — you hardly hear it anymore unless within the context of a Biblical reference or inside of a church-related conversation, or when followed by the words “of the ring”, but that’s exactly what comes to mind when I think about the TV viewer community. Sure, we can connect with people online, join whatever forum we’d like to frequent, whatever. But gathering with others, actually breaking bread (or breaking bad, if you will), and investing time in the lives of other people MEANS more when it’s done face to face. Even if you’re talking about your favorite program and nothing else, being there with that other person carries so much more weight than logging on, speaking your piece, and immediately getting offline when you’re done. You share the space, the sights, the smells; the very context of the conversation has its own unique identity, and you build something during that time.
We’ve lost a lot of that in the TV watching community. If you don’t believe me, try making your way into Hall H at the San Diego Comic Con on any given day.
Have we made watching television a chore? Do we feel like we’re missing out when we delete that program from our DVR or Netflix queue just because we don’t think we have the time? And what will our friends and family think when we tell them that no, we haven’t been up to speed on “The Walking Dead”?
Destroy. Build. Destroy. At least Andrew W.K. looked like he was having fun.