Weaving “benevolent” messages into TV shows: Stop, Bill Gates! Please! | Street Jazz

Weaving “benevolent” messages into TV shows: Stop, Bill Gates! Please!


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Comes word now that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has hit upon the notion of inserting messages about disease prevention and surgical safety and other causes  into such programs as Law and Order: SVU and Private Practice.

So the foundation would “indirectly” aid production costs, while these messages are “seamlessly” woven into the programs. Yeah, we’ve all seen how seamless ordinary product placement can be, where the entire conversation can revolve around a product - clumsy - or the simple holding of a beer bottle so that the name can be seen.

Wow! The Stargate SG1 guys drink Heineken! Maybe I should, too!

This may seem like just the ticket for those who don’t actually watch television, and think that it should all be just one vast public service announcement, and reruns of The Man Show. But for those who enjoy the rare  well-written script (yes, Virginia, there are such things) in the vast desert of crap that is out there, it is nothing short of an abomination.

I think that one of the reasons for the popularity of the stations that offer older programming (nostalgia aside) is that so many of the stories actually hold up well today. Believe me, you could do worse on a rainy Sunday afternoon than watch an episode of Gunsmoke.

Storytelling means something. When we sit down in front of the tube, we don’t want to be insulted any more than humanly possible, so we pick out what appeals to us, to our emotions and our intellects. We love well-told stories.

Nothing hurts the experience  more than some someone - no matter how well-meaning - with a hammer and chisel, tries insert a “message” into a story that is complete unto itself.

It is like your neighbor starting up the lawnmower outside your window just when the story gets going. It breaks the link, and you become resentful. You lose interest.

But hey, you think the guys who are paying for the hammer and chisel care?

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Quote of the Day

Florence Farr once said to me, "If we could say to ourselves, with sincerity, this passing moment is as good as any I shall ever know," we could die upon the instant, and be united to God. - W.B Yeats


Product placement I could almost live with

Recently on a rerun  of Boston Legal I found an example of product placement I could actually live with, if not approve of.

One of the characters struck up a conversation with a woman by the side of a pool, and asked what she was reading. The Da Vinci Code, she replied. Okay, it’s a silly story  - but if it gets someone to pick up a book, I’m all for it.

Most product placement concerns itself with just one particular product. But books? After all, who can read just one?


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