I wonder if you're as annoyed as I am with the ever-increasing proliferation of ads on your home screens? No, I'm not talking about the commercials, which appear on web sites you arrive at while surfing the Internet. I'm referring to the constant reminders about which network or station you're watching on televisions in your living room and other sets in your house.
At first they were tiny, almost subliminal, as if without such a display you might not recall the transmitters of your favorite shows. Or perhaps it was an attempt to build subconscious loyalty so that if you liked the show you were watching maybe you'd get a pang of guilt if you switched to an alternate channel later in the evening.
After awhile it was decided to increase their size, making them almost impossible to ignore, providing not only an unwanted distraction, but in some instances preventing the viewer from seeing some aspect of the program which was on the TV screen and now blocked. Something perhaps the production staff had carefully planned to appear in the lower left or right while framing their shot, whether it was the name of someone's identification tag or a prop that was now almost impossible to identify.
And to add insult to injury the networks decided that it wasn't just enough to force you to focus attention on the name of the company bringing you the show, but it was evidently necessary to promo upcoming programs or specials as if the constant trailers displayed in between act breaks and scheduled throughout the day were not quite sufficient.
Sometimes these promos are animated, providing a further diversion for a few seconds before they fade out of the picture. Oftentimes, they remain for much of the broadcast, as in the case of ABC's continual pumping up the Academy Awards telecast with a large onscreen display alongside its network logo, which is sometimes joined by the number "7" (the local channel in Los Angeles). Last night it was simply maddening to watch October Road, a show that is struggling and is not certain to be back on the network schedule. Why? Because the humongous reminder to watch the Oscars in six days was so evident and frankly caused me to ponder the nominees instead of the plot of a show they presumably wanted me and other viewers to become fixated about so that they would keep it on the air.
Why on earth is it so necessary to drive home the Academy Awards to viewers in this tacky manner, considering that it's a worldwide event watched by billions of people and looked forward to every year? An annual spectacle, the potential loss of which, many people feel greased the way for writers to successfully end their three and a half month strike.
How much advance publicity does such a show need in addition to the endless promo announcements? Aren't the networks concerned that, as these pesky interlopers interrupt the telling of stories creative professionals have labored upon to entertain us, there will be a backlash at some point? Perhaps an innovative cable company or future dot.com network will offer programming without these annoyances, depending on old fashioned highlights sandwiched between commercials, newspaper and radio advertisements, plus the hopeful word of mouth that a successful program engenders.
When will TV viewers have the guts to rise up and say "Enough!" I can't see my favorite actor's biceps or that screen pollution is covering up Eva Longoria's boobs?
When will directors and cinematographers go on strike, not just for better pay and working conditions but so their visualizations are not so marred?
When will writers and actors join as they did in the recent WGA strike, not just for Internet employment coverage but to make sure these unnecessary eye distractions don't further intrude on their plots and performances?
And while I'm at it, do we really need those news crawls that take our attention away from the people Larry King is interviewing, as well as discussions between Anderson Cooper or Chris Matthews and their guests? What innovator thought that one up and why did the lemmings at the other networks follow suit? Do they really presume that most people can follow what's going on during the main program while struggling to read the latest sports scores or who just died or was elected where and with how many votes on the ever fast progressing verbiage displayed on the bottom of the screen?
And finally, the squeezing of credits to an absolutely illegible format -- especially on the cable channels -- is an insult to the tradesmen who endeavored to bring us a quality film or program. Not to mention, try to figure out who played such and such when -- even if you taped the show and froze the frame -- you'd need magnification times five to figure out who the hell the actor or actress was?
Let's go back to TV the way it was, no not the lily white expressions of life in the fifties and sixties, but to permit us to watch thirty or sixty or more minutes of varying degrees of artistic achievement, allowing us to truly concentrate on what's before us for better or worse. These network/promo/news crawls and squeezed screens are not only a distraction but also an abomination.