Beyond the Superbowl

baldilocks puts things into perspective on why this isn’t just about a tittie:

A child’s father throws him up in the air and catches him. Later on that child is a man and is sure that his wife will be faithful to him, even though she has to go away for six months (surrounded by other men) because she’s in the military.

The child and the man are exhibiting trust, and, in each case, if he’s fortunate and has chosen well, that trust, freely given, will not have been misplaced.

We as individuals and as group members place varied degrees of trust in many things, people and entities. We trust our new car to start and run proficiently. We trust the local grocer not to poison us and our physicians not to butcher us. We trust the US Postal service to keep the mail moving and our president to defend us from enemies foreign and domestic.

Trust is the basis of all civil association. It is what is being guaranteed by contract law: that you can trust someone to live up to what they agree to do. This is the very basis of our way of life.

Picking but a single example from the above list will demonstrate how often our trust is offered in vain. When those various forms of trust are betrayed, we take a variety of actions, according to our values, temperament, resources, judgment and, most importantly, our self-control. But, often, the unifying factor in response to betrayal of trust is this: we are pissed; often so angry that the aforementioned self-control is straining its leash. Not uncommonly, that leash breaks.

Back to the Jackson/Timberlake incident: many people trusted CBS to present a family broadcast for a traditionally family event and now many people are hot under the collar; oh not necessarily because they’re “prudes” or are “uptight” about nudity. They’re angry because they didn’t make the choice to allow their children (or themselves) to pick what kind of “entertainment” would come into their homes at a given time. They thought they were getting apples and, instead, they got oranges.

Somewhere, someone failed to live up to their agreement, and this failure cascaded all the way to the agreement between CBS and its viewers. The entertainers that recognize this agreement the most are the ones that have the thinnest fourth wall, like Russ Martin and Howard and the WWE. They get it. They get it because they have to deal with their audience, and they agree to do so.

The wrestlers in the WWE perform five feet from the audience. When they do something that the audience likes, they know it right then. When they do something that the audience doesn’t like, it is hard to ignore 16,000 people chanting “BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT!”

So what happens then? You get a show that gives its audience exactly what they want. They don’t get a formula. Are all of the stories right from the start? Nope. But the ones that can be fixed get fixed, and the ones that can’t fade away.

Broadcast television has forgotten this. They don’t know their audience anymore. When it was the Big 3, it didn’t matter what the audience wanted. They got what the Big 3 decided to give them. Those days are over. Television has been taken over by specialists. Channels like Travel and Discovery and Spike and O2 and Food Network have small, targeted audiences. They know the audience, and they can cater to them. With all of these specialists, the audience is carved up until there is a small segment left for the networks — drones who have no special interest, and people without cable or UHF.

What they have left is sports, first-run general interest drama, and sitcoms. They are striking out with the sitcoms, they can’t find enough good dramas (and those are moving off, like CSI to the Investigation channel) but they still have football. Guess what? Now they are peeing in the football pool. The Football players aren’t doing it. It is the network eggheads who still control the stuff around the game, like the pre-game and the half time show. (The main thing saving the pre-game is that it hosted by football players.)

I hope that CBS loses all football rights over this. I hope that it kills them. It is time for one of the Big 3 to die, to put the fear of the Audience back in them. They have been invulnerable for far too long.

2 Comments

  1. Kevin Baker says:

    Personally, I don’t give a flying f*** at a rolling doughnut about Jackson’s bare tit, with or without jewelry. Did you see the freaking dancers for her number? You think THAT was “family friendly”? And supposedly that was vetted AND APPROVED by CBS. The tit-baring was, so to speak, merely a cherry on top.

    CBS was COMPLETELY out to lunch.

  2. Phelps says:

    I didn’t see any of it. I was playing Gladius on the PS2 and ducking back in the room for the commercials. The only ones that were really amusing were the OCC/AOL ones.