Thursday, November 14, 2013

I don't mind that RWers hate TV, but why can't they tell the truth about it?

Robert Averich's article in the new Jewish Action, a jeremiade against the television and movie industry, sounds, at first, like it was written by a man from another planet. Every TV show has a gay couple? Republicans are always depicted with "bad skin" while Democrats are always "glamorous, brilliant, tolerant and the saviors of mankind?" Is this supposed to be real or is it some kind of parody?

According to Robert, Hollywood slavishly obeys a set of rule, but even a casual and infrequent TV watcher like me can instantly spot the bogus claims, which I repeat below verbatim :

... you will see gay couples on almost every show. [DB: The police procedurals don't have gay couples, nor does Parks and Recreation. 30 Rock and the Office didn't follow this rule either. I don't watch a whole lot of TV, so maybe all the rest of the shows do. Readers?]

... Dad is a clueless loving buffoon, while elegant long-suffering Mom puts up [with it] [DB: I can't think of a single current show that follows this rule, other than Modern Family but Phil Dunfy is just one of the HOHs depicted on the show. The other is gruff, alpha male, Jay Prichet. He's no buffoon.]

No one goes to church or synagogue. [DB: Shirley on Community goes to church. So did Kenneth on 30 Rock and Peggy's mother on Mad Men. Grace, of Will and Grace was married in a shul, but I can't think of any regular daveners on TV.  Still, Jews make up one percent of the population so why would I expect to see them on mainstream TV?]

The greatest threat to our planet are over population or [global warming] [DB: Oh. Robert is a global warming skeptic? How adorable. It cheers my heart to see screenwriters pontificate on subjects about which they know nothing. Still, I can't think of a single TV show from among the four or five I watch that has ever made a comment about global warming or over population. Readers? What does he have in mind?]

Republicans are stupid nasty bigots... with very bad skin: [DB: Roger Sterling and Burt Cooper on Mad Men, Jack on 30 Rock, Ron F'ing Swanson on Parks... all Republicans, all favorably depicted heroes, not one  skin problem among them.]

Democrats are glamorous, brilliant, tolerant, saviors of man-kind: [DB: Fraizer Crane was depicted as brilliant, but he and his bother were also insufferable snobs. Liz Lemon, democrat to the core,  never saved anyone and was certainly not as glamorous as Republican Jack.]

A woman's place is in the workplace [DB: Well, yes, because TV can't work without situations and a stay-at-home mom isn't going to find herself in the middle of too many of them. A show about a woman who cleans and shops doesn't sound too promising. Still Clair Dunfy stayed at home. So did Jerry's wife on Parks and Betty on Mad Men. And, honestly,  if you want women to stay at home don't complain about TV.  Advocate for higher salaries so one-income families have a shot at staying above water. Women don't work out of the home because TV makes it look like so much fun. They do it to pay rent and buy food.]

There are no Torah Jews in Hollywood. [DB: There are less than 1 million Torah Jews in the country. Let's not get greedy.]

Zionism is invisible. [DB: So are communism, socialism, fascism, and most of the other isms. You don't even see much feminism on TV anymore. Again, its a little stupid to carp that TV suits can't create accessible entertainment using subjects most people don't know anything about. But of course for tin foil hat wearing Robert, TV's refusal to make a comedy about a couple of Young Israel attending Republicans and their deep love for Israel  can only be understood as an anti-Semitic conspiracy. Go on. Roll your eyes. I already have.]

I watch - at most -three hours of TV per week and even I can demolish Averich's claims without resorting to Google.Can't we expect Jewish Action to perform such elementary fact checking?

At the top of page 15 he complains about all the gay behavior he's forced, against his will,  to look at on Modern Family without seeming to realize that actual gays despise the way Mitchell and Cameron are depicted. For some they are too fussy and whiny. Other's wonder why they aren't ever shown being as affectionate with each other as the show's two heterosexual couples. But then, not two paragraphs later, Averich is mad that TV shows always put Mom in the workplace because "Motherhood is soooo Leave it to Beaver" Um, remember Modern Family? Clair, one of the two female leads, has no job and is a full time mother. All she does it look after her kids. Why does Averich first blast Modern Family for not being old fashioned enough, and then fail to cite it as an example of the very values he adores?

I think the problem might be, ironically, that Robert Averich loves Hollywood too much.  He seems to suffer  from a surfeit of emunas movies. He writes: "America wins wars only when Hollywood believes in them." But this is putting the cart ahead of the horse. Hollywood follows. It doesn't lead. Studios make the movies people wish to see. Otherwise they'd go broke. When the American zeitgeist is anti-war that's what you'll see reflected on the screen. Hollywood isn't interested in your hearts and minds. It just wants your dollar.

Epiphany! Perhaps this is why Robert is mad that gays and not Zionists appear on mainstream television. He doesn't realize that this is a business. He thinks the studios have some sort of moral duty to promote his own personal values. Can someone please tell Mr. Self Absorbed that the entertainment industry is simply giving people what the data says they want? It doesn't exist to spread Averich's own personal gospel.

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