Thursday, September 18, 2008

Game Shows, Television and the effect on your BRAIN

I was at lunch with a colleague the other day and I was ACCUSED of watching what he labelled MINDLESS game shows. Sir, to that I say pistols at dawn. Pistols, I say!

First of all let's start by addressing television as a technology. M'kay.

Though very few studies have been done, we do know that while watching TV your brain goes into an alpha wave state, which is relaxing and is similar to a hypnotic state. You become more passive, less alert. The feelings of passivity do not end when you turn off your TV. Back in the day that was because your TV had cathode ray tubes, which produced a flicker that the conscious mind does not detect. Kind of like the flicker from a campfire.
Theory suggests that because HDTV involves staring at a more detailed picture the alpha state will be even more pronounced. You will be even more entranced.

This ain't no joke, kids. Human beings "habituate" to repetitive light-stimuli light flickering light. If habituation occurs, then the brain has essentially decided that there is nothing of interest going on. The left half of your brain is in such an alpha state it's like being asleep. The left half is for logical thought and analysis. The right half of the brain, which deals with dream images, fantasy and intuition continues to receive TV images but because the bridge between the right and left brains has been "turned off" due to habituation, all the processing of the information is "turned off". You're not learning anything you'll be able to recall. In a nutshell the neurophysiology of watching television amouts to this: you space out.

Even if you're watching a documentary on sharks, the technology of TV and the inherent nature of the viewing experience actually inhibit learning. Very little cognitive, thought-based learning takes place while you're watching. Very little recall. Very little analytical thought. So that means when you watch any TV program you're doomed to numbness. That includes documentary television, people. That includes Mutual of Omaha's National Geographic. That includes Polkadot Door. That includes Flip my Frikkin House or whatever.

You know what that mean? The more that political issues are confined to television, the less knowledgeable the public is about them. The voter cannot process information he or she is receiving. And you wonder why they keep voting republican. They're not learning!

Love the sinner and not the sin, Gladys because all of it, ALL OF IT is an OPIATE for the masses. That's not a cliche, it's a fact. And from now on I'm not calling it traditional or mass advertising. If it goes on the telly then I'm calling it opiate.

Now that we've got that everwith -- UP WITH OPIATES!


1. Match Game
I don't need to tell you why this is great. See for yourself and imagine this episode if it starred people like Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Fox, and whoever else your little heart desires. You may not recognize them but these folks were real celebrities who stepped down off their pedestals to play with the common man, matching punch line for punch line. Rim shots welcome. They were film actors, broadway stars, TV celebs. You name it.

2. Jeopardy!
Staying power people, staying power. This is a tough game for folks with METTLE. Jennings anyone?

3. The Price is Right
If it wasn't for the other two shows this would be right on top. What a concept! It's brilliant. An hour-long TV ad that people watched daily for decades. You can't measure the ROI. Remember to spay or neuter your pets!

4. Password
Hey this is a hard game, people. Try it for yourselves. The one word clue is not an easy thing to master. Some people were really good at this and some people were terrible, which is why you switched partners. When you got stuck with a lemon, it cost you.

5. Let's Make a Deal
Canadian Monty Hall. Really. If this guy isn't the love child of a magician and a car salesman I don't know who is. No matter how silly it might look now, there are countless websites and videos devoted to the mathematical explanation of what has come to be known as the Monty Hall paradox. Come on.

6. Pyramid
Uh uh. Well if it isn't a winner then explain this.

7. Hollywood Squares
You know why this show was amazing? These are celebrities. No, like famous ones. A list celebs. The ones in the tabloids. And they didn't mind looking like dorks. And they were smart enough to be funny. And they were accessible and they didn't make 15mil just to show up and wipe their arses. You couldn't recreate this if you tried. No one would bite and if they did it would suck because the biters would be has-beens. Er...take Whoopie's version of Hollywood Squares. Sucked. New password. Sucks. 1. Because they made it FAST and EASY for their fast food nation. 2. Because (with the exception of Betty White, the queen of game shows) WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE? I can't tell the difference
(with the exception of Betty White, the queen of game shows) between the contestant and the celebrity. Alfonso Ribero? Give me a break. He ain't no A lister. The show is based on B listers (with the exception of Betty White, the queen of game shows).

So what does this all boil down to? Why am I even blogging about this?

You can't put someone in a BOX because they watch reality TV vs. game shows vs. sitcoms vs. documentaries. It's all the same flicker.

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