May 9, 2006

"A different kind of conversation..."

Two points to the people who know where that quote comes from...

Before I begin, I'd like to give a shoutout/promo to Jeffrey Overstreet from ChristianityToday and and I highly respect this man, and I thank him for giving me some perspective on things in my life. Thanks, Jeffrey.
As most of you know, or any one who really bothers to read my profile before sending me a friend invite, I really like a lot of different television shows. My tastes have ranged from Star Trek and Andromeda, The Dead Zone and Smallville, to more serious fare like 24 and Band of Brothers. And any day of the week, I will happily convince you that television is the ultimate entertainment medium.

Movies? Two to three hours per installment, expensive, limited story but huge budget. Books? Lots of room to develop characters, but limited by imagination, reading ability, or author's skill. Music? Purely auditory; even my beloved U2 pales in comparison to the live U2. (However, the best version of Star Wars is the Original Radio Drama that was made in the late 80's)

Television. A good tv show runs for maybe six to ten years. At maybe 22-24 episodes per season, that's 220 to 240 hours of entertainment. That gives enough time to properly develop characters, stories, plots, a fan base, anything really. Audio is of top notch quality, a new installment happens every week or thereabouts, and the summer hiatus allows anticipation to build up for the next season.

And as anybody who gets hooked on a tv show can tell you, you being to fall in love with the characters, spending time with them for years, making them almost close friends. When a tv show ends after a long successful run, it's both bittersweet and exciting. You want more, but more than likely, you aren't going to get anymore (Star Trek is the exception to the rule).
Television is also a mixed bag. For every good show, there is a terrible show that either fails miserably, or worse yet, succeeds. For every Coach, there is a Friends; for every Hercules, there is a Sinbad (bet you don't remember that show!); for every Smallville, there is a Birds of Prey; for every CSI, there is a CSI Miami/NewYork/LA/Last Vegas/Minneapolis; for every Last Comic Standing, there is an American Idol; and for every Family Guy, there is an American Dad.
In Christian circles, television gets a bad rap. People are always telling you that you should not be watching such filth, that it is corrupting your mind, garbage in garbage out. And after my initial anger about the closemindedness of such people (or am I too openminded?), I'll admit I tend to agree. You watch crap, you're gonna think it's all crap.

But just because there is a Fantasy Island, Desperate Housewives, or OC, doesn't mean that all television productions are idiotic mass catering filth. Obviously everyone's standards are quite different (The Bible is not TV Guide, obviously), so what is ok for one person is morally inapproachable for another.

Let's use a pretty universal example: Star Trek. Everyone knows that I love Star Trek. I use to run home (when I lived in Green Bay) as soon as church was done so I could catch Star Trek: Voyager. Nowadays, for the quality of that show...I probably wouldn't, but at that time, I did.
The original basis for Star Trek was Gene Roddenberry's humanist idea of a perfect future. Crime would be abolished, race wasn't a problem, sexism was gone, religion was unneeded, and diversity flourished throughout the Federation! Obviously, on paper, there are some great ideas present; but as with everything, great ideas don't make great reality. Or rather, reality will never be those ideals. On paper, Commune-ism is a wonderful idea, but we all know what Communism has done for this world.

Star Trek is, at it's best (according to Gene, most of the actors, and Rick Berman, Gene's successor), about "dramatising the human element." Basically, it's an excuse to preach an agenda. People were hired and became creative contributors when they were able to tell a story that pushed some social agenda. The fine line they walk is being able to still tell a decent story; yet if you look and analyze every episode of Star Trek, you will find that the best episodes do not have an agenda, and the worse ones are shouting it into your face (ex, TNGs "Best of Both Worlds", no noticeable agenda; ENTs "Stigma", arguably the worse episode of Star Trek ever produced).

Obviously, I got into Star Trek at a young age, and it captivated me. Nowadays, it's almost hard to watch whole seasons because of the political agenda. Yet this emphasises my point; I recognize when the show is crap or when it's good (and near the end of Enterprise, it was more than good; it was the best season of Star Trek ever produced).

Just because something has an agenda behind it does not mean that it cannot tell a good story or teach positive values. I once had someone tell me to my face that fiction is not worth reading because it does not exhort, teach valuable lessons, or dwell on spiritual ideas. Basically, if it's not the Bible or some educational material, it's not worth touching. He was alluding to a certain Bible verse, which I sadly cannot remember at this time.

Needless to say, I wholeheartedly disagree, but that's a different discussion.

I guess the point I am trying to make in this blog is that you can not dismiss something because of the medium it is in. Yes, crap exists; so does prime rib. If you turned on your television, you will find a variety of shows, some you will like, others you will despise. Just because something is new and unknown...does that mean you shouldn't give it a chance?

This originally started out as me promoting a certain tv show I like, NOT Star Trek, but eventually words and thoughts just came flowing out. I'll write about that other show some other day. Right now, enjoy this blog, and try to make sense of my ramblings......if it seems that I switched ideas or topics mid Blog, that's because I actually bad. I'll work on that for the idea, one blog...

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