Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Through the Film of Commercialism

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like movies.

You know, moving pictures, celluloid, widescreen.

I love movies , they are my second favorite art form.

And that’s why I rarely see them on commercial television.

If you have to ask why, then you don’t love movies.

No, I’m not just talking about the ads jammed into those films shown on commercial TV. I’m talking about the HUGE NUMBER OF ADS THAT ARE JAMMED INTO THOSE FILMS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE ACTUAL FILM ON COMMERCIAL TV.

In my rarely-humble opinion, a film is only at its best when seen from start to finish, unedited and with credits intact. The number of times I have jostled, kicked and screamed at by family members because I have to sit in the theater until the last closing credit rolls by is now in the four figures. I could care less, I’m staying.

When I was a kid, it was cool when a movie you’d seen and enjoyed in the theater came to television.

Cable TV did not exist back in those primitive times, nor did VCRs, DVDs or any other form of electronic or computer wizardry that enables the watcher to see the film outside of the theater. Your viewing choices were TV or TV.

Films were huge ratings-grabbers for the networks, and were treated with near-reverence.

A film that lasted an hour and 40 minutes, for example, was usually pegged into a two-hour TV slot. And if the film ran a little longer and was positioned into the 9-11 p.m. time viewing slot, the local evening news would be delayed by five or 10 minutes to accommodate both the running time and the advertisements – almost as if it were a ballgame that ran into extra innings.

The film was shown, uncut (with the exception of questionable action or language), from start to finish, with opening and closing credits intact. Eventually, networks did short voiceovers during the closing credits to promo an upcoming program or the upcoming local news. The commercials were interspersed delicately, beginning approximately a half-hour into the film (to ensure the viewer the opportunity to get hooked on the plot), and the longest commercial break usually came at or near the midway point of the film, simulating intermission, if you will.

Sure, you’d rather see the film all the way through, uninterrupted. But it was the only show in town, you were at the mercy of the network, and edits for profanity aside, you did see the entire film.

Somehow, the word “contrast” just doesn’t suffice when it comes to the way films are slashed, butchered and pillaged on commercial TV these days.

I’m presuming most folks have some form of cable TV, with ability to read a capsule of the film’s plot and its running time prior to or during the showing of a movie on television. Do yourself a favor and check the running time of the movie you’re watching.

In too many cases, a film with a running time of, say, 126 minutes, is programmed into a three-hour time slot. You don’t have to be Pythagoras to figure out that leaves 54 minutes to be devoted to commercials.

Far more than enough, one would think.

But the profit-hungry greedmeisters who program network television aren’t happy with taking up a third of your prime-time viewing with annoyingly mindless dreck created by such crapola-schleppers as GEICO, Falsies mascara and Buffalo Wild Wings, they have to edit entire sections out of the film to accommodate 10 or more minutes of commercial time. Then, those wonderful money grabbers either obliterate the closing credits or run them so fast that Evelyn Wood on steroids couldn’t decipher them, or shrink them down to microscopic size and run them beneath three or four different film clips of upcoming programs you wouldn’t watch under penalty of death – complete with ear-torturing voiceover. All the better to fit even more ads into the time slot.

Wow, how’s that for celebrating a respected art form?

Their stance, I assume, is that the viewers should be thrilled they’re getting to see whatever film they’re ravaging/showing that day. These heartless cretins hardly seem to care that movies with a running time barely over 90 minutes have been cut, cleaved and shoehorned into a three-hour time slot.

Do these clowns even realize how incredibly asinine this is? These pigs have the audacity to wave in their viewers’ faces the fact that they’re showing 90-plus minutes of commercials for less than 90 minutes (after edits) of movie. It doesn’t bother those creeps in the slightest that a viewer can actually prepare, bake and serve a three-course duckling a la orange dinner during commercial breaks while watching a complete (almost) movie – with the kitchen in another part of the house.

I guess as long as the zombies who make up the television-viewing public don’t give a dump, they’ll happily chuckle all the way to the bank.

As for me, I now have multiple options for watching movies intact.

And none of them involve commercial television.


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