Hollywood Is Desperate

At last night’s 2013 Emmy Awards, actor Don Cheadle offered a rambling salute to the power of TV. Starting with Walter Cronkite’s emotional reporting of Pres. Kennedy’s assassination and moving on to other touchstones of leftist history, Cheadle argued that TV is the binding force of modern society. TV tells society what to feel, how to think, and what is OK to express openly. TV is the vanguard and constitution of all that is worthwhile. Cheadle’s eyes tracked the teleprompter as if in disbelief of the propaganda he was required to spew. Far from an assertion of dominance, Cheadle’s speech was a desperate gasp of self-denial, for TV is actually dead as a social arbiter.

Cheadle’s Speech

The Emmys are an industry award show designed to promote TV viewership. For decades, this meant nighttime programming on the big-three broadcast channels. Per the Ricardian theory of competitors moving toward each other, broadcast TV offered a single view of society and its history. Cheadle’s speech celebrated this stultified past but did not acknowledge today’s free market of ideas.

For starters, the Emmys do not even represent prime-time broadcast TV as they once did. Where there were once three contenders, there are now countless cable channels with incongruous marketing strategies. Rather than fighting for the heart of the US demographic, Emmy contenders now can slice off a profitable niche. Worse, one Emmy winner was a Netflix program that may never be broadcast. House of Cards was released at once onto the internet. There was no control over when it was to be watched, and its marketing model is contrary to broadcast TV because there are no advertisements or syndications. There are no remaining gatekeepers between creators and audiences – TV’s power is a wistful memory in Cheadle’s teleprompter.

Every category of TV’s dominance is gone. Small players like Matt Drudge and Andrew Breitbart took down broadcast news’s power to spike stories like Pres. Clinton’s abuse of power to cover-up an affair or Acorn’s abuse of its tax-exempt status to advance a radical-left agenda. NBC will eventually learn that it can no longer deceptively edit tape to shade the truth as anyone can now listen to the original.

In entertainment, TV is also losing its war. For every program like Glee which seeks to conflate gay issues with Democrat politics, there are more like Duck Dynasty that humanize traditionalists. Tina Fey was one of last night’s winners, but her show was never a ratings success. Perhaps Ms. Fey is an example of how a self-focused program with a mean-spirited leftist agenda can kill otherwise entertaining fare – viewers no longer have to swallow her politics to get a laugh.

Most people watch the various entertainment awards programs not to root for their favorite shows, but rather to see what the stars are wearing. Titillation without substance is pornography, and that is where broadcast TV is headed. Meanwhile, the unshackled audience is free to explore without the control Mr. Cheadle pined for. His speech was really an obituary, and nobody is going to miss the control the Emmy’s once represented.

6 thoughts on “Hollywood Is Desperate

  1. Memo to Byron Watson:

    “Kennedy’s assignation”?!!!


    Don’t you mean “assassination”?

    We all understand that in leftist Hollywood “Gay is the new Black”. And that talent means nothing. As long as a series or mini series slams traditional values. HBO’s ‘Newsroom’ leaps to mind in that arena.

    People are also growing bored and weary of Hollywood and HBO quickly cranking out garbage disguised as “entertainment” to buttress the current administration’s stupidity in domestic and foreign affairs.

  2. Back in 2006 a guy named Mark Steyn wrote “Hollywood is Kept Afloat by Brit Lit and may someday be replaced by something else.” I spent several years looking for whatever it is that would replace “Hollywood.” All I’ve found is chaos. Conservative intellectuals go through the motions of acting like they want the public to abandon television, but then put “Breaking Bad” on the front page of “The National Review.” If the public should abandon Hollywood, that would include “Breaking Bad.”

    —As to Cronkite, who made the public leave the TV set on between 6:30 and 7:00 pm each night? They could have turned off the set and read afternoon newspapers, instead..

    —And as to “Duck Dynasty,” it is topped on a regular basic by “NCIS” on the CBS network. I’ve e-mailed The Parent Television Council about “NCIS” high ratings all throughout August.

    —And as to FOX Cable news, they have guests denouncing FOX Broadcast Entertainment on a regular basis, but never seem to want to ask the owner of both networks to clean up the FOX Broadcasting shows.

    —All you have to do is imitate Disney Channel’s “Phil of the Future,” and you would have cleaned up shows for FOX Broadcasting.

  3. St Karnick, in a video clip I found on his website, went before an audience at Hillsdale College and said that the United States, up until WW II, had had one culture. He argued that at one time, it had only three tv networks (ignoring the dates: TV sales became big only after WW II), eight film studios, “only three of which were important,” and two wire services. I found it odd that he excluded organized religion, and local volunteer organizations, as sources of culture. He then said that the US now had an “Ominculture,” that is to say, a split into multiple, un-unified parts.

    First, the guy sort of missed that between 1948 and 1960 television went from live broadcasting of shows from New York, to filmed dramas and sitcoms made by TV production companies. If culture was coming from the top down by film studios in 1948, it was coming from the top down from ABC, NBC, and CBS, twelve years later. Accoding to what I’ve read, it was in the early 1950s that independent film companies came to life, and got films distributed in theatres, as much of the public stayed home and watched the tube, instead of going out for films.

    It seems likely that independent film companies produced films for a split-into-parts culture, but karnick does not state when, by date, this split happened. If the TV networks were creating one mass culture in 1960, but the indepedent film companies were already splitting the country into an “Omni-culture” in 1960s, it confuses me. Why did the majority, back on Decemeber 6, 1941, feel content with on mass culture from the top down given to them by 8 film studios, and then in 1960, actually want independnet film companies to give them an “ominculture?”

  4. —“What you did have, was the studio realize that their audience wanted a particular kind of thing and they gave it to their audiences. Nowdays, that is not the case….Movie studios do not make movies in accordance with the values of their audience.” —Karnick at 9:00-10:00 in the video clip.

    —Okay, we see that the movie theater chains do not *show *movies in accordance with the values of their audience.

    —-“Instead of having one common culture that says ‘men go to war and ladies go to the factories…we don’t have that kind of common culture where you can control the messages.”

    –Karnick at 13:29 in the video clip.

    —Ah, we have gone from the movie studios making movies in accordance with the values of their audience, to the present day where that does not happen. Of course, back then the studios were in a situtation “where you can control the messages.”

    —Wait—were the film studios sending them from the top down, or responding from the bottom up?

    —Karnick seems to be talking about two different film industries on two different planets.

  5. At the end of the video clip, Karnick begins talking about the school system. It is confusing, because the earlier portion of the video seems to think that culture, up until World War II, was the product of film studios, wire services, and television networks. But he somehow jumps to a present where the school system started determining the culture, although well after World War II.

    Calling for a reform, or abolition, of the current school system is one thing. But moving from a world where private institutions provided the majority with their culture, to one where the schools are doing it, without explaining how this happened, is confusing.

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