Changing the channel
You know what’s odd? YouTube began several years ago as a website for amateurs to upload low-def videos taken with digital cameras and smartphones. Over time they’ve been relegated to the back burner by the likes of Beyoncé, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, who gobble up millions of page views with their slick music videos, because MTV isn’t in the business of airing music videos anymore. MTV is too busy plugging “reality television” and turning idiots into celebrities.
How about this: let’s get MTV and YouTube to trade content. MTV can take back the musicians and YouTube will accept Jackass and Jersey Shore and their ilk.
(You know what else is ironic? I never really cared for MTV when I was growing up, aside from their 90s animation shows like Aeon Flux, The Maxx, Daria and Beavis and Butthead.)
Anyway, I got to thinking about television programming earlier this week after reading about CFU dropping Viacom channels from their lineup effective April 1st. No, this was not intended as an April Fools joke. To make a long story short: Viacom was asking for a 60% hike in their fees, CFU surveyed their subscribers to see if they were on board with a $3/month increase, the subscribers said no (by a 2-to-1 margin), and CFU and Viacom have since parted ways.
I really don’t care what channels CFU offers. I haven’t had reliable access to cable television for several years, since before I moved into the Mandalay. But as a matter of principal, I’m glad CFU took a stand against content providers jacking up prices for no reason other than pure greed. Here’s a primer on the current state of television content bundling and why a la carte channel-buying won’t be available in the near future, barring action from Congress.
…but let’s pretend I could subscribe to individual channels. I can think of a few channels I wouldn’t mind paying for… TCM, Ovation, AMC, Discovery and BBC America. I like the programming on the FX-spinoff channel FXX (reruns of Arrested Development, Parks & Rec, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Simpsons). If I were subscribing through CFU, I would hope they’d given me access to CFCT so I could continue to watch city council meetings (though I can already do that through the city’s website for free).
Living without cable television (and television in general) has been rather liberating. I will confess there are a few shows currently being aired that I enjoy, such as Parks & Rec (mostly for Nick Offerman’s brilliant character Ron Swanson), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (for Chelsea Peretti and Andre Braugher) and the revised Cosmos series with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Hulu allows me to catch the latest 5 episodes of each of those programs.
There are other online options as well, which I hope to explore later this year. A streaming Netflix subscription would grant me unfettered access to the X-Files, the West Wing, Sealab 2021, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Portlandia and other shows I miss. I wonder if they offer the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross?
Not watching television on a nightly basis means I don’t waste my evenings and weekends in front of a screen. I can direct my time and attention towards more creative pursuits, like writing, reading (hey, remember books?!?), bicycling (weather permitting) and being outdoors in general. It saddens me, though it no longer surprises me, that most people fill their evening hours with television programming, as if it were their nightly duty. To each their own, I guess. All I know is I won’t go to my deathbed wishing I had watched more television.