Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shooting your tv is never the answer

Bristol Palin, the sexual abstinence advocate who is the daughter of the titular star of the new television show "Sarah Palin's Alaska," has been a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" this season. I do not watch the show, myself, and I am glad that I don't. Because the show is apparently driving people insane.
According to a criminal complaint, [Steven] Cowan’s wife called police Monday evening to report that her husband had blasted the TV and was threatening to kill himself. Cowan, who had been drinking, became angry while watching Palin, 20, perform on the ABC program.

As Palin, pictured at left, was dancing, Cowan “jumped up and swore, saying something to the effect of, ‘The f*cking politics.’ Steven was upset that a political figure’s daughter was dancing on this particular show when Steven did not think that she was a good dancer,” the complaint notes.
I don't care how upset you are, shooting your tv is never the answer. I believe in this so strongly that I actually made it the title of this post.

Whether it's "Dancing with the Stars" results, or a shabby "Larry King Live" interview, or a poor episode of "Life Unexpected" (seriously, the will-they-or-won't-they-back-and-forth between Lux and her teacher has been old for weeks, but the two of them getting "stuck" in a hotel room alone, are you serious? please don't get me started), there is no reason to shoot your tv. That is literally "killing the messenger," because your poor tv is merely the friendly means of information transferal. If your neighbor came by to tell you that Ms. Palin was still a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars," would you shoot him?

Probably not. And shooting your television is the same as shooting your neighbor. Worse, it's like shooting the person with whom you spend ten to twelve loving hours per day.

But back to the Smoking Gun article. In the quote I copied and pasted above, I cleverly left out much of the "attitude" and "editorializing" of the author, because I wanted to address those aspects separately. Here is the full opening:
Like most Americans, Steven Cowan has been perplexed by Bristol Palin’s curious ability to keep advancing in TV’s "Dancing with the Stars" competition.

However, unlike other viewers, Cowan, 67, allegedly became so enraged by Palin’s success that he actually fired a shotgun round into his television, triggering a 15-hour standoff with Wisconsin cops.

According to a criminal complaint, Cowan’s wife called police Monday evening to report that her husband had blasted the TV and was threatening to kill himself...
Please note that the author states as fact, in the very first sentence of the story, that "most Americans" are "perplexed" by the young Ms. Palin's "curious" ability to remain on the dancing "competition." DWTS gets about 20 million viewers per week. In a country of more than 300 million, that is a mere fraction.

But, according to at least one survey, 64% of Americans "get at least some of their TV content online." (Although that particular article doesn't reveal how that survey was conducted -- if it was an online survey, for instance, the results might be a bit skewed. Results might also be skewed if people didn't want to admit to someone on the phone that they're not "hep" to the "new technology.")

 Bristol Palin performs her perplexo doble on "Dancing with the Stars."

Anyway, even assuming that 64% of Americans watch some tv online (it's probably true), how many of those people are watching DWTS? Even if it's just clips of the young Ms. Palin's dancing?

But let's just assume that all of that 64% has watched Ms. Palin dancing (I get a lot of my tv content online, and I have never watched a clip of her or anything from this season of the show). Let's assume also that every single one of those people also thinks that the young Ms. Palin is not a very good dancer, and doesn't think she should have advanced over someone like, let's say, Brandy, who is the most recently eliminated DWTS contestant.

Are those people genuinely perplexed by Ms. Palin's continued advancement? Merriam-Webster online defines "perplex" as:
transitive verb
1
: to make unable to grasp something clearly or to think logically and decisively about something
2
: to make intricate or involved : complicate
DWTS is a reality competition show in which the show's judges and viewers vote to determine who remains from week to week. If you are perplexed by that, then you are probably perplexed by a lot of simple everyday things, such as finding things in a grocery store (ask a clerk if you can't find something!) or tying your shoes (go here!). So that takes care of the first part of the definition.

As for the second part, making intricate or involved, I suppose you could say that those people who are suggesting that there is some kind of "conspiracy" to keep Ms. Palin around are making the show intricate and involved, and complicating it. As USA Today puts it:
Bristol Palin in the finals of ABC ballroom competition Dancing With the Stars? Shocker!

Conspiracy theory. The Palin Effect. Tea Partiers and other grassroots conservatives gaming the vote.
...
But the back-biting, rumor-mongering and media storm surrounding speculation over Bristol's surprisingly long run on TV's top-rated show reached a fever pitch after she bested entertainer Brandy Norwood Tuesday night to advance into next week's finals (Monday, 8 ET/PT). There she'll face Dirty Dancing's Jennifer Grey and Disney Channel star Kyle Massey.

Palin and pro partner Mark Ballas have been ranked near the bottom of the dance teams a half dozen times; TV prognosticators have smelled something fishy for weeks.
"TV prognosticators"? Really?

Anyway, I added the emphasis in the above because two of the suggested theories for Ms. Palin's success are that her mother's fans are voting for her in large numbers because they like her mother and want her entire family to be successful, and/or members of the "Tea Party" are voting for her in large numbers because, I suppose, they like her mother and want her entire family to be successful.

In other words, there isn't really anything "perplexing" about this. People are voting for a contestant on a reality show competition. They are apparently doing so in large numbers. Large enough that Ms. Palin has made it to the "final three."

Are you still "perplexed" by this, "most Americans"?

 Does this man look like he represents "most Americans"?

Back to USA Today:
Palin and Ballas — a two-time DWTS winner — scored their first triple-9 scores Monday for their pasodoble, and finished the evening with a combined judges' score of 53, just four points behind Norwood and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy's two-dance score of 57. But judges' scores count for half of the results, and can be offset by a celebrity's fan base and popularity among viewers.
Emphasis added because it probably helps that Ms. Palin has been partnered with someone who has won the show twice before. Perhaps he has his own fan base that is "gaming the vote"? Or, did the producers partner Ms. Palin with him because they are part of the conspiracy?

My point is, I don't think that most Americans are perplexed by young Ms. Palin's success. I, for one, could not care less about how she does. I have a lot of other, more important things going on in my life. Most of the people I know also don't care. Of course, that might just show how comically out of touch I am. Even if I did care, it wouldn't take me very long to figure out how the voting for the show works -- no way would I be "perplexed" by it.

Regardless, if most Americans really were "perplexed" by Ms. Palin's success, we'd see an epidemic of tv murder. So far, we've only got one. And although one is clearly one too many, there is no reason for us to become alarmed.

Perplexo doble pic source.
Steven Cowan pic source.

3 comments:

A.Jaye said...

You don't watch DWTS and I don't watch the X-Factor. But beware Sprague - Simon Cowell is looking to bring his hit UK TV show to American living rooms.

You can't live in this country without coming across the controversy of this seasons show. Fix? More like fraud.

http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=&q=x-factor&sourceid=navclient-ff&rlz=1B3GGGL_en-GBGB324GB324&ie=UTF-8&aq=0&oq=x-#hl=en&expIds=25657,26473,27552,27636,27692,27743&ds=n&xhr=t&q=x-factor+fix&cp=12&pf=p&sclient=psy&rlz=1B3GGGL_en-GBGB324GB324&tbs=nws:1&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=a78f79ca3f7de769

Enjoy the link. Then enjoy the con.

Ricky Sprague said...

I had read about the auto tune stuff, and about Chloe Mafia (I probably should have written something about her, actually) -- but I hadn't heard about Cheryl Cole's refusing to cast a vote last week. That seems pretty blatant to me. And Cowell is going to file a complaint with the Press Complaints Commissions over a story about the show's allegedly being fixed? He's some tough guy, huh?

Yeah, Cowell is bringing X-Factor to America (lucky us! just what we need) -- but we don't have a PCC here.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha! Making Wisconsin proud!