No, I don’t mean our Idiot in Chief (although, in an abstract fashion, he’s distantly related to today’s topic). That topic is much more salacious, much more dirty. I’m talking about porn. House porn, specifically. Televised house porn. As bad and contagious as any social disease, I would rank it second only to politics. Both start innocuously enough; a simple town hall or bedroom painting. Then, in no time at all, you’re mainlining on conventions, bundling, and multiple DVRs keeping every snippet of – well, everything.
The rant of this day (Sunday, July 6th) stems from my spouse’s following of most the house rehab/flipping shows on TV. Everyone has some binge watching addiction, this is one of hers (real crime, crime drama, and Chicago-anything fill out the rest). Full disclosure: between my wife and two daughters, I’m lucky enough to have a couple sci-fi shows on the DVR.
The program that is instigating this post is, “Texas FlipNMove”. It follows the mini-industry scripted storyline; fake animosity, rehab sticker shock, worry that the final resale won’t cover expenses, etc. But the most interesting takeaway from this show is the announcer’s narration. It is almost identical to the guy who narrated Disney’s animal shorts back in the 60’s. (…and Stinky the skunk had better watch out! The bear cubs want to play. Maybe it’s the cubs that should be looking out.) As I wrote that, I guess I should be thankful that most of these shows don’t have incidental music. We should also be thankful that political programming has limited musical interludes (although, I think due to the present office holders, silly calliope circus music will be added to the short list).
But I digress (yes, too much). How we have come to this is easy to answer: Madison Avenue gits. To answer the Why? is both easy (greed) and difficult (creativity? ability? possibilities?) Almost every episode of these myriad programs result in the cast making some money (even a smidgen) – can’t have a story without a happy ending. The ability / possibility fake-out? Through the magic of editing, the great unwashed viewer thinks that they too could do what the characters on the toob accomplish. It would be more honest to have a project timer in the bottom corner showing exactly how long a project took.
But what about us, the enablers? I suppose it’s natural for folk to want nice things and places to live. Yet I pause to think of how folk lived just 50 years ago (that’s 1967 for the mathematically challenged). A rough guess at a supposed upper middle class home would resemble either the Brady Bunch home, or Major Nelson’s house. At the other scale’s end, you had Archie Bunker’s row house or the Evans’ tenement apartment. In all those cases, there was no ‘showing off’ of a place. It was what it was. In the latter case, there was an undercurrent of getting somewhere better, but you were where you were and made the best of it.
Now we have video cheerleaders telling us to Upgrade! Spend! Take on (just a little, really /sarc) Debt! Why? To support real estate / home improvement industries of which there are two mega-players (Home Depot, Lowes), two minor leaguers (TrueValue & Ace), and the slowly disappearing independents. What was once accepted standards (roof don’t leak, HVAC works, no fire hazards, and a fresh coat of paint) have become expected, like air. Today, if you don’t install the latest gadgets, you’re considered ‘dated’ and validated considerably less (many times almost criminally less).
In the engineering world, there’s a saying: Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS).
Apparently, in the media world a different saying goes: Send Us Cash (SUCker)..