Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Green Grass Grows All Around

As much as I'm into foreign stuff like Japanese pop culture and certain British comedies, I'm really irked by the elitism that often creeps into the fandom thereof. You know, the needlessly broad "their TV is better than anything on American TV" generalizations.

Sure, you find things on, say, British TV that you would never find on American TV, but different cultures result in different creative output, and that shouldn't be a surprise. Foreign stuff might seem refreshingly different to you, but just because it's something you're not used to seeing doesn't make it better.

There is a lot of great stuff on American TV if you're willing to pay attention and look for it. And there is a lot of total garbage on British TV if you actually go there and watch it unfiltered, without waiting for the cream of the crop to cross the Atlantic for you. We may have fucked up the Coupling remake, but it was a Friends ripoff anyway.

Which is why it's funny to see something like this:

Gervais Slams UK Entertainment Industry

British funnyman Ricky Gervais has hit out at his country's TV comedies and dramas, insisting they are lackluster and tired. The outspoken The Office creator is underwhelmed by UK television and believes it is created by a small group of conservative writers who look across the Atlantic for inspiration. He says, "It's different in America. They're ambitious, they're good, they're funny. They do stand-up, and by the time they're 31 they've got their own sitcom because they're good. You don't see many 40-year-old hack writers in America. They get fired if they're no good. It's like natural selection." Of US dramas, Gervais adds, "The Sopranos, 24, CSI, The Wire, bang! We've got nothing like that. Nothing! It's such a big gap. Comparing our celebrities to America is like comparing Blackpool to Las Vegas. It's division two."

See, it works both ways. If you're stuck with their shit (or shite, as I believe they say), our stuff looks awesome. The grass is always greener, and all that.


Steve said...

Speaking of good American TV, did you see last night's episode of How I Met Your Mother? Aside from being funny, it succeeded on the level of compelling drama. I was glued to the set because I really cared about the characters, and desperately wanted to see how they resolved their problem. Moreso than any drama I can think of other than The Shield.

As much as I complain about the state of movies, I'm quite happy with the state of TV. I'd say that TV is probably at its highest level of quality in history.

Sarah said...

I agree with your post wholeheartedly. America has some good television shows, animation, movies, and music. Sure, there's crap, too. But that country (whichever one it is) you're saying is Ultimate Awesome Perfectness? Yeah, some of their stuff sucks. There's always a balance.

Kenny said...

Yeah, last night's HIMYM was quite strong. I'd read the script already, and it was even better in execution. I was also impressed at how the drama was woven into the comedy without feeling sappy or manipulative.

The next new episode will be the one they made while I was there.

lydia said...

I could use cable, or TV reception that gets more than 2 blurry channels. But I think Zack finds it difficult enough that I hog the TV whenever a new Harvest Moon game comes out.

"Shite" is used in Ireland, Scotland and parts of Northern England. I think Ricky Gervais would say "shit," but I could be wrong.

Zack said...

WHY DO THEY KEEP COMING OUT. Shit, there have been three for Gamecube, which I know because there are a preorder bonus cow plushy, a preorder bonus dog plushy, and a preorder bonus sheep plushy lined up like pretty little maids above the TV. When she played the N64 version she went so hardcore that we hooked up a second TV.

I dislike the concept of scheduled entertainment. If it's really an event that has a good reason to be scheduled, like a concert or a play, that's cool. But entertainment that is prerecorded and then delivered to a passive consumer according to a rigid schedule can fuck off. I think I have said this before.

Kenny said...

That is why TiVo is awesome. The concept of building a schedule around a TV viewing is now totally foreign to me. When I was at my parents house and we had to miss a show because we were doing something else, it didn't make any sense to me.

lyan! said...

As far as quality goes, I agree there's probably more going into TV now than there ever was before. I compare it to music in video games 8-bit sound versus full-on orchestration possibility that we have now. I don't hate the shows on television (I really don't know anything about whats on these days), but I now, I feel the distinction between shows and their content-quality has something to do with a channel-wide philosophy/direction where all HBOs are going to have vulgarity and nudity, all Fox shows are going to have baby-vulgarity (regardless of quality of content), and all shows on ABC are going to be highly-produced hacks that have a disgustingly patriotic undertone (This is based on my one viewing of American Inventor, which was really just American Idol with a swath of shit painted over it — done by a shit-swathing robot maybe). The point I think I'm trying to make is that I feel I can sense the attitudes of networks, and the ones I like, I like, the ones I don't, I don't — they're generalizations, sure, but they work decently enough.

Technology-wise, over at the Japanese office I miss everything, BUT thanks to good friends on the Internet (read complete strangers) any television show is torrented to the web within 24 hours — and I appreciate that.

I've been watching The Sopranos like I'm at home watching it off TiVo. Sure the quality's all over the place and sometimes you get things that don't work, but ultimately, it's working well and I get to pick and choose what I want to see.

I hate to say it, but since torrented television, I find I rarely watch Japanese television. I may have to start scheduling time for it!

Zack said...

Yeah, I guess the real problem for me is that to enjoy TV I'd have to invest a lot more than I'd like to.

I feel that different game studio's 8 bit music did actually carry a lot more personality than modern game music. I could pick a Konami song or a Capcom song or a Nintendo R&D1 song out of a lineup at 200 paces. The old 8 bit stuff was done by just a few guys at each company, and they were all too busy with the technical challenge to not let their personalities and biases show through in their fallback compositional techniques. Each company was inventing its own samples and then using them over and over -- listen to the music from Duck Tales and Destiny of an Emperor. Now everybody has fake pianos or the same licensed pop punk. There's a much wider range of musical styles now, but you can't identify an unlabeled soundtrack as "definitely Konami" like you could with the 8 bit stuff. Well, I could with the 8 bit stuff, at least.

Am I done hijacking the comments?