Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Month Of Hidden Cameras

It's "Sweeps Month" again for television stations. There are four of these during the year and they are the times which determine the networks' and stations' ratings. Ratings = $$. So it is very important that each station grab as many viewers as possible, even though this practice makes the ratings somewhat artificial.

This is the hunting season, the Month of the Hidden Camera, the time when much is promised but little is actually delivered. Woe unto him or her who sits through an entire newscast waiting for the promised tidbit which is "coming up right after this" and never arrives until the last two minutes. Then our initial "Oh, wow!" changes to, "Oh, that rather quickly. All sizzle, hardly any steak.

The networks drag out cruise ship "murders," which were probably suicides the family does not want to admit, and which happened months (if not years) ago and which the cruise lines are not legally allowed to speak about at this point. They gather up victims of priest abuse which happened forty years ago and assume anybody knew how to handle it then; they also conveniently ignore the same abuse by family and neighbors.

The local stations take you inside strip clubs (gee, it's dark in there, someone's head is always in the way, and everything is fuzzy). The station's vice squad reports, with great seriousness and overkill, about an official in some one-horse town who has a few slot machines in a back room. We see from-the-kitchen footage of a cop hanging out in a diner drinking coffee.

It's dramatic, it's "we're reporting this because you need to know it," it's all bullcrap; it's about ratings and, ultimately, about money. Watch it if you want; just don't fall for it.


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