Sunday, October 5, 2014

Televised Entertainment

So, I have talked a lot about new music. Truthfully, I do listen to a lot of music- generally 3-4 hours every day. But, I also read ( generally about an hour a day) and watch TV ( generally about  an hour and a half, averaged out, per day- which is to say, some days 3 hours, some days none). I've really fallen off on movies, and fine art, but I still concern myself with both. In other words, much like you, I'm not as monomaniacal as my blog might make me appear.
So, I'd like to talk a bit about TV. I'm fully aware that 99% of you ( statistically, that's how it breaks down- I'll average between 200 and 250 page view per post about music, and it drops to about 15-20 on anything else) just tuned out, but, well, I'm not here for the page views.
As one or two people might remember, I gave up on Cable a few years ago- looks like Adam Sandler has, as well ( follow the link. It'll re-affirm your cynicism) . The whole wide world is now on the 'Net, so, if TV is meant to be a window on the world, you're better off getting your TV on the 'Net. That is, I've got 57  "channels" ( really, they're applications) on my Roku box. Two of those "channels" are paid ( Netflix and Hulu Plus) and two involve additional payments ( Amazon, and Vudu {which is run by Wal Mart, don't get it twisted, I know I've not escaped our corporate oligarchy} both have selections you pay to play) so, really, yes, it is a better deal, financially, than getting 30 channels on Cable TV for more money- but the finances of it are just step one- the lure, so to speak. The real appeal is to my id, not superego. You see, I've got so much content available to me, literally on demand, that the illusion of control cedes to me. I'm phrasing things awkwardly because I know both the truth that it's just another way of plugging into the matrix of mass culture, and I know the way that it feels- that I'm finally able to dictate the terms of my cultural experience, which has always been my goal- going all the way back into childhood. When I was about 6 years old I had a dream that I got a TV- we didn't have one- and it was more like some kind of android servant than what I know a TV to be, now. I dreamt that I could turn it on, talk to it, and it would show me what I asked it to show me. Yes, I'm a bit strange- but that's literally been the dream ever since.  Streaming TV through the internet is by far the closest it's come to that dream.
So, with almost everything available, what do I watch? Well, some mainstream stuff- @Midnight, The Daily Show, Person of Interest, and my wife's TV shows. Some "classics"- The Prisoner on Crackle , Good Eats on Netflix, Peep Show on Tubi , and  then, a bunch of streaming- only content on Youtube ( I got obsessed with Epic Rap Battles of History )  concerts on Yahoo!  and NPR and live feeds on Ustream .
I'm not really missing out on the big Marquee stuff, like I know I'll be seeing the Walking Dead, soon, but, even that, I see on my terms, in my timeline.
I think it's important to note this stuff, for several reasons, but here's two:
First, because no one cares. There is a cycle developing that I remember from my days, running a radio station- I would hear a demo, or see a band live, and buy their CD, and then, play it on the radio. Next thing I'd know, the band would contact me, and say, hey thanks, and then, here's a copy of our new single, or whatever, and hey could you play that? In and of itself, nothing bad about that cycle. They're creating, I'm appreciating, and they like the advertising function my appreciation can serve, because that can help them create more. The problem becomes when that cycle expands. Say that band gets signed. Now, their label steps in- Hey, you like this band, but we also have these other bands, do you think you could play them , too? Which still can be OK, provided it's a small independent record label, with a limited roster- because then, there's still a back-and-forth. I can say- sure, I'll play band A, B and C- but X, Y and Z really don't fit my format- sorry- and generally, no hard feelings. But, then, if I'm doing that with label 1, label 2, 3 and 4 get wind of it, and now, it's starting to feel like my playlist is getting dictated to me. Worse, if Label 4 happens to be a pseudo-indie, suddenly, I've got some major, corporate label acting like I'm their mouthpiece. I'm not complaining about that cycle- only describing the truth of it. If you're in a commercial venture- like running a radio station, or a record label- that's how commerce works- it's never just about cash for goods and services- both sides are trying to get little pieces of one another. But, this blog is not a commercial endeavor, and really cannot serve in that function. So, put up a few posts that scare off casual readership, and I'm a lot less attractive to the big fish. Sure, I'm still getting some of it, but I bet this post, alone, will put me off of some radars, and I wanna be stealth, geddit? So, for my friends in bands- this ain't about you- to lay it bare- I've been contacted by a label that's owned by Sony- I'm not naming which label, because I really do want the distance, but suffice it to say that you know who they are, and they're distributed by RED, which is Sony. I know from my previous life in radio that if you get on Sony's radar, you've effectively applied for a job working as a marketer for them. So, I refrained from responding, and "reviewing" anything that label sent me. Keep in mind, that there are plenty of other labels that are distributed by RED, that I have covered, but each and every one of them are because I know somebody at that label, and that person, not their label, sent me something, or sold me something. That keeps it "off the books"- but one of these people put it "on the books"- which is totally their right, but ruins the situation for me. So,  I went a little quiet for a bit, and now, am posting some things specifically to get me off that particular radar, again. If this bores you, fair enough, but you're not getting calls on your work line from 'Stache , either.
The more positive reason is because this is what this blog is about- I'm just trying to share what I like with others, in the hopes that it strengthens them in what they like- whether it's music, or TV, or sculpture, whatever. Noting what I like, on a subject that interests few, should prove, once again, that I'm not trying to get you to agree with me. If you hate everything I love, that's fine, and I really don't take it personally. But, what I hope you can still take away from this is that your tastes matter- even if no one else likes what you do. But, now, I'm preaching, and I'll stop that. I just really do mean it- it's more important, to me, to celebrate the persistence of individual tastes, in the face of mass media, than it is to celebrate my tastes- even though I know my tastes are better than yours ( Heh.)