By David Glenn Cox
Well, the Yankees lost the other night and that's good, I guess, and not just because I hate the Yankees. Fox Broadcasting in New York has stopped allowing its signal to be carried on Cablevision. Fox wants money from the cable company to carry it's signal that it otherwise broadcasts for free. Pretty much the same scenario highway bandits once used on the King's highway. "Don't think of it as a robbery governor, think of it as a freelance tax on stagecoaches."
Fox did this same extortion routine last year with another New York cable provider before the Oscar awards. So by the Yankee's losing the game the other night Fox's leverage is somewhat diminished. Three million cable subscribers have been blacked out by this criminality. The FCC, that shining, shimmering, cringing, tower of Jell-O wrings its hands. "Oh, my stars! Golly gosh, you boys both have such good points that I just don't know what to do?"
Cablevision has asked for binding arbitration to settle this dispute and to return Fox to its subscribers. Fox will have none of it, calling for direct negotiations, "give us your wallet governor, so I don't have to mess up that handsome shirt of yours." The FCC henceforth referred to as Aunt Bea, places her fingers on her chin and asks. "I just don't know, Andy what do you think?"
There is a reason why this is going on in New York, because if they can get away with it in New York then they can get away with it in Jacksonville or Flagstaff or Portland. Already this year cable / satellite provider rates have risen at twice the rate of inflation. Back in the early days of cable local channels were thrilled by the prospect of having more viewers. When I first moved to Atlanta I hooked up my TV only to discover that because of the geography you had very poor reception and without cable, local stations would have only a percentage of viewers they now enjoy.
Growing up in Chicago there wasn't a man or boy alive that loved baseball as much as I did. WGN radio and TV broadcast all 162 Cubs games and I caught most of them. We boys would ride our bicycles home from school to catch the end of the Cubs game. We knew all the battling stances of our favorite players and WFLD even carried some of the White Sox games not that anyone cared.
I can't watch a baseball game on Fox, Fox has destroyed the game of baseball on television. Jabbering announcers, with commercials on top of commercials and commercials inside of commercials, "Oh, that's a sharply hit liner to third, that's our Preparation H hot spot play of the game. Next up is Julio Julio he's hitting just .118."
"Yeah Frank, but he's hitting .287 against left handed pitchers with more than two vowels in their last name and led the Mexican league last year in hitting into double plays with less than two outs."
"Thanks Tim, the pitcher winds up, and Julio hits a slow grounder back to the pitcher's mound, he picks it up and throws on to first and Julio is out by sixteen steps."
"Let's take a look at that again on our Fox instant replay!"
"See Frank, how the ball is rolling slowly? See how it bends each blade of grass over as it rolls? See how the pitcher positions himself to field the ball?"
"Almost like he's just standing there waiting for it Tim."
"He's a trained athlete, this is the sort of play you work on in spring training. Let's watch this play one more time so that the youngsters can learn how a pro does it. There! Did you see that? Did you see it? The top of his shoe in wearing out, those shoes don't have many innings left in this league.
"Next up as George Uvas, they say his nickname around the clubhouse is grapes!"
"You know Frank, that reminds me of a funny story back in 1968 when I was playing with Saint Louis. We were playing a road game against Pittsburgh and I was in the hotel restaurant having breakfast and I ordered toast with grape jelly. The waitress brought my order with raspberry jelly, do you believe that? So I told her to bring me English Muffins instead of toast and when she brought the muffins there still wasn't any grape jelly!"
"Thanks Tim, that was our "Verizon" pointless story of the game also brought to you by Budweiser, and remember when you're out of Bud, you've probably had enough!"
Fox has worked this same magic on football with sound effects, cartoon robots and pointless interviews. "Well coach, you're team is losing 42 to 3 with thirty nine seconds to go before halftime what are your plans?"
If Fox were really looking for big money they'd charge for the mute button. I've believe Fox sports could even ruin porn.
"Well, they appear to be and attractive young couple do suppose he's wearing boxer shorts? Remember next time, don't get caught short yourself carry Visa or MasterCard."
That's one long kiss he's giving her, That's our Aqua fresh kiss of the movie!
Hey look, he's taking his shorts off, oh my god! Remember folks, Domino's pizza delivers!
"That reminds me of a funny story when I was playing for Saint Louis back in 1968. I had invited this stewardess up to my hotel room to watch TV. So after an hour or two of watching TV I said, Hey, do you want to split a pizza and she said sure, I'll go get it. You know what? She never came back and there I was with no pizza!"
"Well it looks like they're going to have oral sex Tim."
"You've got to be very careful doing that and always use protection Frank. You know Frank, that reminds me of a funny story back in 1968 when I was playing with Saint Louis. I was having oral sex with this woman and the condom came off my tongue and I almost swallowed it. I thought I was going to die! "You know Frank, that reminds me of another funny story back in 1968 when I was playing with Saint Louis when my grandfather passed away in his sleep. I said to my friends, that's the way I want to go, quietly in my sleep, not yelling and screaming like all those other people in the car."
Fox wants to be paid for something that they would otherwise give away. Cable and Satellite providers offer premium sports packages so that now even with cable I still can't watch all the Cubs games without paying even more. Even with the premium sports package I still get commercials, paying extra for the privilege of watching all those commercials?
I was reading a review of the program "Glee" it was described as a slick package part music video, part teen angst and part product placement's for the 12 to 24 demographic. That the stars sometimes appeared in the commercials until it was difficult to tell where the program stopped and the commercial starts. I wondered if maybe someday we'd have a program just called "Commercial" and then I remembered the home shopping network.
I think George Orwell had it all wrong, Big Brother isn't watching us, we are watching Big Brother. Big Brother is selling a stupefying drug and many Americans just can't snort up enough of it. They will pay whatever price Big Brother demands even if he used to give it away for free. Gaudy, garish commercials where suppliers portray their customers as twits and nitwits. Their corporate spokespeople are lizards and absurd, outlandish caricatures and morons and the public cries, "gimme more!."
American television is septic, mind numbing and a farcical interpretation of American life. An "Easy Rider" for the addle minded and a fourth Reich corporate version of "Fahrenheit 451". Television sets the goal posts for public discourse in America and that explains a lot. Juan Williams made a blatantly racist remark and was fired for it. 87 percent of Fox News viewers believe that Williams was treated unfairly.
Again, Orwell had it all wrong, instead of two minutes of hate for our enemies Fox has all day hate. The purpose of this hate is the same as when Orwell first wrote about it. To focus the viewers own rage and hatred for the failings of their own lives onto whatever enemies Big Brother decides for them.
A fractured, surreal, tragic, kingdom, a land of the lost. An enigma wrapped in secret sauce and shrouded in banality, supersized with a side of fries. The cold fingers of reality tug us by the sleeve and point us silently toward the future. A time when man's intellectual clocks run backwards and whose bell tolls for a new dark age. A time when science is perverted and technology is no longer your friend. A time when you are loathed just for taking up their space and breathing their air and the bastards are angry about it because they just can't figure out a way to charge you for it.