Tag Archives: television

TV is even worse for kids than we thought

Pax Arcana

old_tv_adIf you thought television was bad for children because it crushes their creativity and motivation to interact with human beings, you don’t even know the half of it.

Turns out the real danger of TV is that it will actually, physically, crush your children.

According to MSNBC.com, the Web site arm of the network that brings you popular shows like OH MY GOD YOUR NEIGHBOR IS A PERVERT and IS YOUR KID MAKING RICIN IN THE KITCHEN?, the volume of furniture-on-child violence in this country rose 41% from 1990 to 2007.

And you can guess what is to blame, right? That’s right — the Japanese and their crazy TV-making abilities:

The increase correlated with the popularity of ever-bigger flat-panel televisions that Americans have brought into their homes in that time, along with the entertainment centers and narrow, less-stable stands to hold them. Injuries from televisions alone accounted for nearly half of all injuries related to falling furniture during the study period — 47 percent.

Now, you might think that’s not a convincing argument. After all, flat-panel TVs didn’t really become popular until a few years ago, and if they’re comparing 2007 to 1990, there seems to be at least a decade there where TVs were unlikely to be the cause of any increase in accidents. Also, the study cited doesn’t seem to blame flat-screens for the increase — it’s almost like MSNBC.com pulled it right out of its ass, then got a few attention whoring “child safety experts” to weigh in.

I say you’re over-thinking it. Just sit back and let the news cascade over you like a golden shower of sort-of information. There. You feel better? You shouldn’t. BECAUSE YOUR KID IS ABOUT TO FUCKING DIE!

To be fair, I should point out that MSNBC.com doesn’t explicitly say that falling flat-screen TVs are a growing threat to kids, except in the headline, which is “Falling flat-screen TVs a growing threat to kids.”

Falling flat-screen TVs a growing threat for kids [MSNBC.com]

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Perk is a Beast is a Juggernaut

Pax Arcana

Have you ever wanted to see the crazed rantings of an unbalanced fanatic on basic cable television?

If you answered yes, you’re in luck. Tonight at 10:30 (and 11:30), one of the awesomedudes of the venerable Perk is a Beast Web site takes to the picture tubes to share his insight into why commas are overrated and Dwight Howard is a chump.

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All kidding aside, we hope this marks the start of a long-standing career as a multimedia triple threat for PIAB. I think the world has had enough Bob Ryan for now, right?

Celtics Now [Home]

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David Carr gets it

Pax Arcana

Last week, New York Times reporter David Carr was one of approximately 4.9 million Americans who watched a seething backyard brawler named Kimbo Slice pound on the ear of some slow-footed honky in what was heralded in junior high locker rooms everywhere as a coming out party for so-called “mixed martial arts.”

As far as I can tell, mixed martial arts is a mix of marketing testosterone, wildly inaccurate punches, and inexplicable boredom, but that’s not the point.

The point is that more than ever before, cable programming — and not the networks — is leading a golden age of television. While Kimbo is saving the networks writer money on big-time TV, shows like “Mad Men,” “Friday Night Lights,” and “Army Wives” are flourishing on cable. That’s not to mention the pay cable channels like HBO and Showtime, which have issued serious content challenges to their free counterparts with shows like “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” and others.

Networks, meanwhile, are still trying to play checkers on a chess board:

If networks are no longer in the business of coming up with must-see serials that mature over time — we all know that “M*A*S*H,” “Cheers,” “Seinfeld,” you-name-it took a long time to turn into hits — what business are they in?

“They are on an endless search for the next big thing,” said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, which includes TNT and TBS. “There is very little consistency in what they are doing, and people don’t know what to expect when they turn on the broadcast networks. They are still in the business of appointment television, but there are fewer and fewer appointments. There’s a great big opportunity for cable networks.”

That reminds me. I have a dentist appointment tonight during prime time. I’m having my teeth replaced with tiny chrome skulls wearing Viking helmets. I think it gives me a certain “I will fucking murder your whole goddamn fucking family” charm.

Golden Age for TV? Yes, on Cable [NYT]

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The Top 5 Historical Innacuracies of HBO’s “John Adams”

Pax Arcana

Last weekend, Comcast offered a free HBO preview. This gave Pax Arcana a chance to DVR the first two episodes of the most talked-about miniseries of 2008: “John Adams.”

We like the show. Really, we do. But Pax Arcana is a stickler for historical detail. Nothing drives us up a wall faster than a filmmaker who thinks that historical events need to be embellished to suit the tastes of modern audiences.

In that sense, the show leaves a bit to be desired. Here are the top five historical inaccuracies we spotted in the first two episodes of “John Adams”:

5. No monocles or butter churns. Everyone who’s ever been to Colonial Williamsburg knows that the women of the colonial era spent a majority of their time either gathering eggs or churning butter in large, rickety wooden contraptions — while wearing low-cut blouses. The men of the time, we know, all wore either monocles or those glasses-on-a-stick devices. All are pointedly absent from the John Adams miniseries.

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They’re glasses. On a stick. And they belong in our history.

4. Sam Adams was sober the whole time. Samuel Adams, a cousin of John Adams, plays a large role in the first episode of the miniseries. He is presented as a dead-serious agitator for colonial independence and a firebrand who hurls old-timey insults like “toss-pots” at passing redcoats. However, as anyone who went to college knows, Sam Adams was a kick-ass homebrewing homey who always had a tankard in his hand and a lass in his lap. He invented beer pong and high-fiving, bitches. Look it up.

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Frank ye Tanke

3. No treasure. It’s clear the U.S. government has no interest in revealing the truth about the founding fathers and the piles of gold they stashed deep in a cavern in Northern Virginia. And I guess HBO will just kowtow to the government’s wishes. I suppose it’s just as well, since publicizing this fact would only inspire more treasure hunters who would eventually stumble upon the lock box in the classical archive room at the Boston Public Library where I… I… I’ve said too much already. Forget you ever saw this.

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I will find you, Cage. I will. You owe me $9.

2. No sexy Indians. With the exception of the mulatto Boston Massacre casualty Crispus Attucks, all of the characters in the first episode of “John Adams” are white-bread whiteys. While it’s true that most colonists viewed themselves as English — and therefore white — I think it’s safe to say there was more than a little Wampanoag tail making its way around the outer walls of old Beantown. Is it too much to ask that the filmmakers venture into the woods and let the cameras follow a saucy squaw as she cleans her nearly hairless body in the river? For history’s sake.

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Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Succotash!

1. Where are the flying hatchets? I’m not sure what the budget was on this miniseries, but I suppose I can give the makers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the fight scenes. The fighting in John Adams is slow and plodding, with a bunch of guys getting shot in the thigh and shin and whatnot. Perhaps it was too expensive to include long tracking shots of a renegade guerilla dodging redcoat bullets while flinging hatchets, Gibson-style, through a dense forest — landing them blade-side down in some crumpet-eater’s spine. Then he approaches another officer silently from the rear and — oops! — snaps his neck! Fucking British soldiers.

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America, fuck yeah.

Nota Bene: It really is a good show, and if you’re interested in nitpicking the historical details, you should go here.

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Wednesday filler: God hates shrimp

Pax Arcana

While it petered out after three or so seasons, the West Wing had a pretty good run, didn’t it?

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German TV almost as weird as Japanese TV

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Sesame Street too hot for toddlers

Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times got her hands on Volumes 1 and 2 of Sesame Street — the first time the early episodes of the venerable children’s program have ever been released on DVD.

sesame_street.gifThe most striking thing about the DVDs is that they come with a warning label that reads as follows:

“These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”

You read that right — the makers of Sesame Street say episodes of Sesame Street are not appropriate for people under 18.  Here’s the money graf:

Snuffleupagus is visible only to Big Bird; since 1985, all the characters can see him, as Big Bird’s old protestations that he was not hallucinating came to seem a little creepy, not to mention somewhat strained. As for Cookie Monster, he can be seen in the old-school episodes in his former inglorious incarnation: a blue, googly-eyed cookievore with a signature gobble (“om nom nom nom”). Originally designed by Jim Henson for use in commercials for General Foods International and Frito-Lay, Cookie Monster was never a righteous figure. His controversial conversion to a more diverse diet wouldn’t come until 2005, and in the early seasons he comes across a Child’s First Addict.

Sesame Street executive producer Carol-Lynn Parente tells Heffernan that Oscar the Grouch could probably never be created in today’s world — where children are tightly rolled in pillows and bubble wrap from the moment they are lovingly extruded from the doula’s hands.

Some of these reservations are understandable. Like one scene in the first season where Gordon (the first black man many of us suburban whiteys ever laid eyes on) invites a kindergarten-age girl over to his house for milk and cookies. You probably don’t want your kids going home with men who want to be friends with little kids — unless they’ve got candy, which everyone knows is worth the risk.

We’re not child psychologists at Pax Arcana, and we don’t have kids. But there is something awfully creepy about the idea of raising children in a world where they are not exposed to at least some of the awfulness of real life. Some of our most vivid memories of childhood are of being scared speechless by The Dark Crystal and even Snow White. Hell, does Bambi’s mother even die if that movie is made in 2007?

It just seems like we’re preparing an entire generation of children to believe that the world consists of soft red and blue shapes bouncing through the ether, when in fact it consists of marshmallows, sex, trombones, and laughing gas.

Sweeping the Clouds Away [New York Times]

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