I appreciate the extremely well-thought out argument you have presented and the link to the Fry and Laurie sketch illustrates your point very well. However, I would have been interested if you had spent equal time on the other side of the argument, i.e. Trefusis' apparent assertion that dumbed down family entertainment has far more violent results and also that Points of View gives a voice to sections of society who are a discredit to our nation's intelligence. One wonders whether they actually represent the majority of viewers or whether the BBC believes it is being unbiased and allowing the minority view to be heard.
Well I don't know those specific shows that were referred to in the article like Points of View so I couldn't specifically comment on them. I was also waiting for someone else to join the discussion and take that side further. The side that I did focus on is one that is of interest to me as someone working in the field of education. This issue does come up - should we allow children to play fight and use pretend guns they've constructed out of connecting shapes or blocks of wood? I say yes. I don't see the harm in it as long as it's not crossing the boundary into sadistic killing and seeing pain and death as fun and cool.
I whole heartedly agree that television violence affects only those who are already in some way damaged. My wife and I were watching some Doctor Who stories from the old era recently and my wife wondered whether 'Revelation of the Daleks' was too violent and scary for children. My response was that nothing on television and film can be as scary as things which happen in real life, even if the real events are tamer such as losing your parent in a shopping centre for a few minutes. Children are well aware of the difference between fiction and reality and the only thing one need woory about is the moral representaition of violence. If sadistic acts are presented as reprehensible that is fine.
Fictional violence and scares from shows like Doctor Who are fine. It's fun to get scared. Children and adults alike love it for the adrenaline rush it gives you. That's why theme park rides and horror/thriller films are so popular. People love being scared in an artificial and safe way. When I was a child I loved scary and disturbing stories and films. They were fun to watch and were very entertaining. I also loved playing beat 'em up and shooting video games. They didn't traumatise me, stop me from sleeping and they didn't detract from other activities such as creativity, reading and learning.
I am a huge fan of television as a medium. Like Trefusis I believe in its potential. Some may say the internet has superseded it, but only in terms of novelty. It is still a relatively new medium going through the pains and discoveries of its puberty, one might argue. Those who blanket criticise TV as a medium might as well dismiss literature simply becasue it includes airport novels, pornography and gossip magazines.
I believe every medium has it's purpose. They all have their good points and their bad points. They can be enjoyed in different ways and at different times. They will all have their high culture and their dross. I enjoy listening to the radio, watching television and films, reading books, manga and comics and I enjoy using the internet. Each of these have their no-brainer rubbish aimed at the lowest common denominator and the real quality stuff that is well made and with intelligence.
The majority of TV I enjoy is either comedy or drama. I use the word 'drama' loosely to describe anything which features acting and a plot, so I include science fiction and action shows.
Although my DVD collection is large I only consider a handful of programs to be superlative (if you must know - Buffy, Angel, Doctor Who, Babylon 5, The Prisoner and I Claudius). Most of the rest are diverting entertainment, including the aforementioned Starsky and Hutch, which appeals to my nostalgia and features a satisfying 'good guys beat the bad guys' story. I like TV shows with heroes, and whatever the degree of violence there is always a moral centre to many of these stories which is not difficult to agree with regardless of one's political side of the fence. In fact I believe that many of these programmes appeal to liberal sensibilities. Even the A Team - look how many times the villains are corrupt officials, bigots and powerful industrialists, as if the programme is saying 'these people exist in America and thrive within the law', which I think is pretty subversive.
My wife enjoys these programmes with me and we discuss them intelligently as well as being swept up in the simple fun, though her primary interests are theatre, folk music and dance and art cinema. She, however, is in favour of more control over scheduling of violent programmes and believes that there are more susceptible minds watching TV than discerning and objective ones.
I'm waffling a bit here as I have been in Australia for the last 28 years, and have lost touch with some UK TV. The fictional professor's views are like my own though - I enjoy a bit of fictional fun: shows like 'Life on Mars' for instance, and another, older time-travelling series 'Goodnight Sweetheart', as well as 'Dr Who'.
It is the crass, mindless so-called 'reality TV that makes me despair, as well as the commercial media's manipulation of the news, the sick obsession with sport in all its boring detail, and horror of all horrors, US sitcoms.
Of course, i don't have to watch that stuff, and I certainly avoid it like the plague, but I live in a society that DOES watch it, and that is the basis of my despair.
The kind of tv shows I enjoy are comedies like The League of Gentlemen and Spaced (I love a lot of classic stuff which I've listed in the Favourite comedians thread, I won't repeat here or I'll be here all day) and panel shows like QI, Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week and Never Mind The Full Stops. I love dramas like Doctor Who, Star Trek, Buffy, Angel, Life on Mars, New Tricks, Sea of Souls and Supernatural. I also love watching historical documentaries and shows like Time Team. The only 'entertainment' show I watch is Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and I do not watch game shows, reality shows or anything 'celeb' orientated point blank.
I would like to see more intelligent programming and good quality dramas and comedies. There does seem to be a serious drought in terms of good comedy at the moment. It's dreadful. It all seems to be very dull, repetitive mainly catchphrase based comedy like Little Britain, Catherine Tate, Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul, Little Miss Jocelyn, TittyBangBang. Even That Mitchell and Webb Look/Sound seems to suffer from repetition from time to time though not quite as severely as the first two examples. I don't get how we've got to this state. Looking at the British Comedy Awards for instance is just depressing. There's sod all of interest. Whatever happened to the days of exciting new comedy that really grabs you?
One thing I particularly hate is the new talent show format. Shows like Pop Idol, The X Factor and those new musical based ones. I always hated manufactured music and now it's just got worse. All the people who go on these shows sound so samey, bland and boring. People are being told by a tv show that suchansuch an individual is a 'pop idol' before they've even done their first gig.
I think one of the biggest changes in television that seemed to really take hold in the 90s is that of teen orientated television. It really took over in the 90s and now a lot of television channels seem to be geared towards grabbing teenage audiences with flashy graphics, fast cuts, shorter scenes, dodgy camera wobbling for 'authenticity', loud obnoxious music about "shaking your booty" and other such shit and dumb presenters the audience can "relate to". The channels don't seem to want to attract an older and/or more intelligent audience at all. Instead of having interesting, intelligent people going on television shows and hosting them we instead have 'celebs' who are thick as pig shit and have done sod all of interest or value to anyone who does not read gossip magazines. There's another thing that I really hate - gossip magazines. Who gives a flying toss about what these celebs do? Why would you really? Must you have that much of a boring life to spend your time obsessing over losers like Victoria Beckham and Paris Hilton?
Assuming direct control...