So, how do you watch Nip/Tuck?

I don’t have cable. I made that decision about three years ago. I had just graduated from College and was on a very tight budget. Cable became a luxury. I didn’t want to pay the $50-plus for basic cable, when I needed money for rent and bills…and happy hour. It was an adjustment at first—I’ve had cable since I was about 10. All of a sudden, I had to get used to only a few channels and static.

I don’t think I’ve missed much. As you may remember, I spent most of my time with Floyd anyway—and he had cable! I also started watching more network shows and PBS (I have 4 PBS channels!), which has great travel, cooking, and nature programs, BBC shows, and even movies. Most importantly, I started reading more. I had forgotten, after years of reading dry, required nonfiction for class, how exciting and fulfilling reading was.

Now that I have a job and extra money to foot the cable bill, I still don’t want it. I see cable, and even TV, as providing supplemental entertainment for when I’m eating or before I go to sleep. That’s something I didn’t realize until I got the rabbit ears.


George Felix Allen said...

Stephen Colbert alone is worth $50 a month. And you get Jon Stewart, too. That's, like, $1.50 per show.

Colbert Nails "Real" News
Eleanor Holmes Norton

Seriously, without these shows, it's like living in a cave.

Plus, Olbermann, which is real news with actual facts:

September 11
Fox News Bill Clinton Interview
George Bush Pre-9/11
Habeas Corpus
North Korea
New York Post Hates America

Hippo Q. said...

I may live in a “cave” in terms of popular media culture, but I don’t need cable to be informed, reflective, and irreverent about current events.

I’m far from being sheltered from stimulating, balanced news coverage. I have access to non-cable programs like the McLaughlin Group, Face the Nation, and News Hour with Jim Lehrer. These shows may not be as colorful and playful as The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, but they keep me informed.

My choice to go without cable doesn’t deny the wealth of entertainment and information one can obtain from cable programming; it just means that I’d rather spend my extra cash on something else.

Thanks for your comments, “George.” Keep them coming.

George Felix Allen said...

Let us undertake a study of the "balanced news coverage" by the aforementioned shows...

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer statistics:
-People of color made up only 15 percent of U.S. sources.
-Male sources outnumbered women by more than 4-to-1 (82 percent to 18 percent).
-Among partisan sources, Republicans outnumbered Democrats on the NewsHour by 2-to-1 (66 percent vs. 33 percent).
-Public interest groups accounted for just 4 percent of total sources.
-At a time when a large proportion of the U.S. public already favored withdrawal from Iraq, "stay the course" sources outnumbered pro-withdrawal sources more than 5-to-1.

As for The McLaughlin Group, I believe everything Jon Stewart said (transcript) about Crossfire applies. Jon Stewart's superiority is proven by the fact that he can single-handedly destroy pundit shows that are "hurting America." When the President of CNN Jonathan Klein cancelled Crossfire, the NYTimes reported:

Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at "Crossfire" when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were "hurting America."

Mr. Klein said last night, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise."

Even Eleanor Clift, a regular panelist on The McLaughlin Group, agrees. She says that The McLaughlin Group is "the Superbowl of bullshit."

Moving on to Face the Nation:
-Only 5 percent of interview appearances were by black guests between 1/1/04 and 6/30/05 (press release, full report)
-Only 18 percent of guest appearances were by women between 11/7/04 and 7/10/05 (full report)
-Guests on ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and NBC's Meet the Press are mostly conservatives: 1997-2005 study, 2006 first quarter (with nice graphs), 2006 second quarter (Third time's not the charm)
-Bob Schieffer's shallow portrayal of Palestinians
-Discussion on Tom Delay: 3 Republicans, 0 Democrats
-Just a disgruntled 13-year veteran of CBS?

Finally, just for fun, we return to Jon Stewart. And, of course, end with the most amazing performance ever.

Hippo Q. said...

“George,” you mistakenly assume that like most Americans, I can’t think for myself and blindly ingest whatever I am told. That’s just not true.

I have always been sensitive to the tone and content of the news shows I watch—that’s why I find them so stimulating. I enjoy catching the half-truth portrayals of issues by “experts” and the unfair blurbs of stories that I feel deserve more attention. If I ever felt that I needed more info, I just checked out other news sources or got a fresh perspective from a reliable, informed friend.

It may be true that the shows I listed are not as “balanced” as I portrayed them to be (though I’m skeptical of your statistics—numbers can be used to prove just about anything if you fiddle with the parameters). But, they are stimulating and balanced enough for a viewer like me who readily contributes her own (tree-hugging liberal, female, minority, and middle class) counterpoints.

George Felix Allen said...

Well, I didn't really assume that you or other Americans can't think for themselves. But the point is that one shouldn't have to go to other sources or friends to get their news or opinions. Then what's the point of watching those programs?

The perspectives of your reliable sources and friends (and those liberal, tree-hugging views of yours as well) should be presented on these shows in the first place. Why does the right have all their viewpoints expressed explicitly on all of these shows, while the left has to go to other sources to get opinions and news? That inherently skews the opinions of the American public who aren't willing to dig further. It's only balanced and stimulating when multiple sides of the issue are presented.

Sometimes, it's not about thinking for yourself, but it's about hard news that's not even reported. For example, where were the reports of what the President and Secretary of State were doing in the days after Katrina? I would say that's hard news, but I didn't see any reports of Bush having a birthday celebration with McCain on Monday, one day after Katrina hit. I didn't see reports of Bush getting photo-ops with a country singer on Tuesday. I didn't see reports of Rice going to see a comedic play called Spamalot, going shopping for extremely expensive shoes, and playing tennis with famous tennis stars on Wednesday and Thursday.

That kind of hard news is necessary for people to understand that the people in power don't care about us. The traditional media is just covering for these people who could care less about the citizens of this country.

Hippo Q. said...

Your points are well taken, George. Thanks.

Indeed, I think that the media should be fair and balanced and feature “hard stories.” Yet, I don’t think that its possible to have a news show that is as encompassing as we Idealists would hope for. There just isn’t enough time or viewer patience/tolerance to go through all the diverse viewpoints and intense complexities of a given issue. So, we’re left with news clips that just give us the headlines and biased “expert” blurbs. I don’t think that will or can change anytime soon.

I want to repeat my belief that it’s the right and obligation of the American viewer/consumer to steer the media in the right direction (by simply watching/not watching a show and commenting on the coverage through other forums). I think the Right, Center, and Left would all agree on that point. We shouldn’t give the media so much power over our lives. And if we do, there’s no one to blame but ourselves—we created this media monster.