Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, November 16, 2021

hears a who?
Have I mentioned that I fairly despise the “red state/blue state” designations?

It’s stupid to take what are arbitrarily-chosen hues for a functional news map and enshrine them with a permanence. What’s more, in terms of political tradition, one of the two color assignments makes absolutely no sense: Using red, long known as the color of choice for leftist/communist movements, as the symbol for Republican states is counterintuitive.

I’m desperately hoping both colors are abolished by 2008, to be replaced by simpler, more straightforward descriptors.

That said… If popular political punditry insists on using the red and the blue, the rest of us might as well have some fun with it. Sutton Ward’s “One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State”, playing off the Dr. Seuss classic, fits the bill nicely.

Be forewarned: Sutton Impact comes at you from The Village Voice, in the very heart of blue state country. If you want to avoid politics altogether, go have some appropriately-colored breakfast.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/16/2004 11:18pm
Category: Comedy, Political
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I’m slowly reading through “The Crisis : The President, the Prophet, and the Shah — 1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam”, by David Harris. It’s the second book Time Warner Book Group sent me for my review. I’d hoped to be nearly finished with it by now, but I doubt I’ll be done with it, and have a review posted here, until after Thanksgiving. That’s life.

It’s not a reflection on the book, necessarily. I’m working my way into it, and appreciating the detail that’s going into setting the stage for what would be a world-riveting crisis. Part of that detail is coming from the backgrounds of the primary players in the event: The Shah, Jimmy Carter, and the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

I found this tidbit about Khomeini to be particularly interesting:

Ruhollah was a most uncommon name in Khomein [the Iranian town where the future Ayatollah was born]. It literally means “the spirit of Allah”, and some Muslims considered its use sacrilegious, since it was also used as another name for Jesus Christ, whom Muslims accepted as a prophet, though not as the son of God.

I doubt many Americans back then, let alone now, were aware that Khomeini’s first name translated to “Jesus”. And there’s an odd fatefulness to a boy with a somewhat scandalous name becoming a holy man. Strange stuff in the West-versus-Islam context.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/16/2004 06:48pm
Category: Book Review, History, Publishing
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Dig through the archives of this site, and its predecessor, and you’ll see pretty quickly that I’m no fan of reality television. It’s cut-rate lazy programming in all its empty glory, is based on nothing more than the illusion of “reailty”, and winds up being as formulaic as any other brand of TV series. The rise of reality shows dovetailed pretty neatly with my own marked decrease in television watching, and while it doesn’t take all the blame/credit for that, it had its part.

Just like any business or creative cycle, reality was due to run its course, despite wild speculations that it represented a big part of the future of television. The industry naturally feeds on itself through imitation, creating glut and overexposure. As a result, audiences are getting their fill of reality shows, signalling a potential end to their preponderance.

“It’s a band-aid,” [veteran TV producer Bernie] Brillstein said. He and other industry executives said the mainstreaming of reality shows has led them to suffer the same high casualty rates as conventional sitcoms and dramas.

“With quantity comes failure,” Fox TV reality chief Mike Darnell was quoted as saying in Daily Variety. “It becomes a combination of mediocre shows or shows that are so similar to other shows, they don’t stick out.”

Nowhere has this become more apparent lately than at Fox, which currently devotes about 60 percent of its prime-time schedule to unscripted shows — more than any other network.

After taking a dive with its much-ballyhooed boxing show, “The Next Great Champ,” Fox TV stumbled with two more high-profile reality launches this month — “My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss” and Sir Richard Branson’s “The Rebel Billionaire.”

Not only that, but the long-term economics for reality shows don’t look particularly good either:

In the end, however, the biggest limit to the commercial success of reality TV may be its limited shelf life in an industry whose business model hinges on the ability of producers to eventually sell their shows as reruns.

“Part of our business is to get (a show) to last so you can syndicate it,” Brillstein said. “You can’t syndicate this dreck.”

That factor especially makes it easy to compare the reality craze with the previous big wave to sweep network TV: The “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” phenomenon. The trajectory was similar, but of shorter duration: ABC hit it big with the Regis Philbin vehicle, drove it into the ground, inspired a few uninspiring knockoffs, and now the gameshow genre is deader than ever. And you can’t successfully syndicate reruns of gameshows, as the stuggling Game Show Network/GSN is finding (plans for reality programming networks are afoot, although they may never come to fruition).

I doubt reality television will completely disappear; they’ve certainly got appeal, depending on the format and casting. But I think the high tide as rolled back.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/16/2004 06:17pm
Category: RealiTV Check
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