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Thursday, October 9, 2008

TV on the Radio.

Posted by AR

Hey,you know what literary device has become very popular lately?Comparing two things that seem vastly unrelated.For example, comparing toast to ironing boards,Beauty Pageants to potential vice-Presidents and the XBOX 360 to irresponsible(some would say even criminally inept) business men getting $700 billion bail-outs for being so disgracefully horrible at their job,they need to be protected.The list of possibilities in this are endless,really.You'd think that,at this point,people would be getting a little tired of said device and that,maybe,it isn't very original anymore.If you're a person who thinks this way,then please close this screen now,we have nothing for you here.

The two things we'll be comparing this week (or failing that,at least will be talking about in the same post) is the NBA,and it's players to TV and it's shows.Fun idea,huh?Maybe it's been done before.If so,feel free to crucify me in the comments,I'm talking to all 5 of you here.

Normal font=TV


Firstly,I have this theory that TV absolutely sucks.That's not really the kicker,however,the fact that I think everyone knows it and accepts it is.If you need proof,all you need to do is to look at this years list of Emmy nominations.Not exactly for who was included in the nominations,but who was excluded.The Wire is,as friend to you and me Tariq Al Ha(y)(i)dar put it "So good,I'm surprised it exists."And it is.This is possibly the best way I've heard this show described.To be honest,I only started to watch the Wire after it had ended.I had heard all the hype-and I was having none of it."It couldn't possibly be THAT good",I thought to myself.To be fair,I had every reason to be skeptical,I had been fooled by hype before,for example the shitheap that is 24.But,in this case,I could not have been any more wrong about the show.It simply is,remarkable.Enough of chewing on David Simon's jockstrap,this isn't what this is about.

In its five seasons,The Wire has been nominated for 2 Emmy Awards,no wins.While the unbridled work of sheer genius that is Two and a Half Men has racked up near 30.If nothing else,this should prove that the world is going to hell.And fast.

Conversely,I think that basketball is absolutely fucking glorious.Probably the best pure pleasure in life(well apart from THAT,but anyway...).In the NBA,unlike in TV,players get scrutinized at every opportunity and I'm really not sure why this is.In TV,bad shows will almost always get awards,see the above example.They'll even get good reviews.Their glaring weaknesses will never be pointed out,and if they are it's by some guy on the internet that nobody listens to anyway.In basketball,the best of the best are always the most scrutinized,the most attention is always payed to them,this is not the case in TV:

For example,I'll use another case of hype.LeBron James is and was the most hyped thing on the planet this side of Lil'Wayne and his was a hype I believed.I believed it,but at first I was hesitant too,much like with the The Wire,I was burned by hype before(hi Kwame*) and would be again(Hi Bassy!**).But this wasn't the only reason I was hesitent:if you cared enough to read on the subject,you'd find plenty at the time putting heat on his personal life,saying he was just a great athlete,HummerGate and other silliness.While LeBron has had an amazing career so far and reached a level none believed could be reached so early,he still remains the subject of heavy criticism.Some deserved,most not.

The thing I want to know,and fear I may never get the answer to is why in the name of holy hell do people like this stuff so much?Why is it that lazy,unoriginal mediocrity gets so lauded while something that is genuinely worthwhile and probably should be kept as an artefact is so ignored and will be cast off as a mere 'cult classic'?I know that what happens on TV is very much a reflection on life,or at least a reflection on how people would like their lives to be.People want to recognize desirable traits about themselves in the characters they see on the tube.Stale mediocrity does exactly this,it makes people feel good about themselves,it makes them nostalgic about relationships they may never have had.

The thing I want to know and fear I may never know is:Why do people feel that they have the right to criticize athletes so much?Not just athletes either,good athletes.People who basically excel at what they do; the average fan will always find a gripe with.They will call these athletes 'losers','chokers','primadonnas' and what have you.And to me,this isn't even a bad thing.In fandom,there always an element of people feeling that the organisation and the players owe them somethingThat's the nature of the beast.But,opposite to TV,watching people play basketball well,will never make someone feel good about themselves.Especially if the person watching has played basketball before.I honestly believe that the best way to enjoy watching basketball is to have never played it.

Watching this contains more hurt,pain and memories than Johnny Cash's Rick Rubin albums.For people,and this absolutely includes me,watching people excel and make a handsome living off something I loved and wanted so much creates an air of resentment and even jealousy.By the way,I'm open to hearing other theories as to why sportspeople are more scruntinzed sometimes than even politicians,because there is a 97% chance I'm wrong and not making sense.

Ever wonder how the whole 'Ross-Rachel,will they,won't they?' dynamic has been employed,and has worked in just about every TV show that has been commissioned since 1986?It's because everyone has been in,or at least like to think they have been in a relationship like this one.Of course,they have not been in that idyllic situation.Most of these were probably horrible,but as passing time contributes to fuzzy memories and sprinklings of mis-placed nostalgia,TV will always do the rest and serve as the form of escapism to trigger this.

Escapism is a huge part of basketball's popularity,in my opinion.It really is escapism in its purest and best form,for two hours you can forget all the bad shit that's happening in the world around you and make grown men running up and down hardwood putting (as a coach of mine used to say) 'putting the round thing in the round thing' the most important thing to you,even if you know how meaningless it actually is.Simply watching basketball works the same as the 'Ross-Rachel' dynamic,watching any team win will remind you of the times in life when you won,or even just the times in life when the team you loved won.This nostalgia is the reason that Bill Russell stock is increasing by the minute.I have only seen a few tapes of Russell play,but I wouldn't dare argue that he isn't top ten all time.So strong is the word of mouth nostalgia.

Now,that's a sad conclusion.TV doesn't need to be good as long as it's necesarry.Basketball doesn't need to have been good,as long as people remember it as so.

*I actually never bought the Kwame hype,just thought I'd say....

**Bassy still breaks my heart.

Bonus Semi-Related Quote:
"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."-Groucho Marx


BETCATS said...

i might be first, but if i am not, i will just say good sh!t AR or Izzo or whatever the new excepted name to call you is.

BET's Spell Checker said...

expcepted = accepted

AR said...

BET:You can call me whatever the hell you want.Just don't call me Hussein.

Hursty said...

As soon as I saw the headline I knew that this would be an Izzo Production. I was sooo right. Really interesting man. Now I am going to read the actual article and respond. Peace!

Hursty said...

I was right. Always am. Love reading AR's work, and wish he would do it more often.

TADOne said...

Yeah, we actually have to bribe Alan with beer and Irish folk songs to get him to write on a semi-regular basis.

Now, if only we could get him to use spell-check......

AR said...

I fucking love Folk songs...

TAD:Would you believe I actually looked over this one?No?

TADOne said...

I believe it. Of course, when you are drunk, does that really count?

B. Long said...

Good stuff, AR. I liked the comparisons. Spell check is for pussies.

Money Bill Williams said...

Great read Izzo. Thanks to the words written on this website, I have started watching the show and just finished season three this morning. I guess it wasn't big down here as almost nobody heard of baltimore, let alone the Wire

Hursty said...

Ok. Not to hijack Izzo's thread, but he said he is willing to do any of the hibachi previews that werent currently taken.
Whats going on fellas?
B.Long is also doing the Dallas preview.
C'mon guys at least lemme know whats going on.

B. Long said...

What happened to the Tad photo post? I hope it wasn't removed because of what I said. Just kidding fellas.

AR said...

This sucks.