Thursday, January 24, 2008

Slow Millionaires

When I was growing up I knew I was a member of the "Me Generation" because people I didn't know (the media) told me so. The past few years I'm told that I'm a member of an "increasingly fast paced" society, that I demand "instant access" and that I should be able to "multi-task" (and ignore the fact that the more things that don't get my full attention when I work on them the more things I don't do as well as I ought).

So now I know I'm a self-centered octopus who no longer has a use for an answering machine because I'm always online. Maybe one day I'll bootstrap myself out of the Dark Ages and follow the media's advice. But in the meantime I'm puzzled by these recent prime time game shows that, rather than hype a manic jump-up-and-down shrilling contestant pool, we have laid back hosts, often seated, who wait for a contestant's response with no apparent time limit.

What? No buzzer? No time clock? This cannot be!

I think it started with the "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" show. I'd explain it but we've all seen it (and thought, man, how easy is this! Until that one question you don't know...) I'm not an expert by any means but I think this was followed by shows like Chuck Woolery on "Greed," "One Against One Hundred" with Bob Saget, and last night's jewel, "The Moment of Truth." This is where host Mark Wahlberg quizzes a contestant on answers they'd given during a prior lie detector test. With the contestant's significant other present, the questions are increasingly personal and voyeuristic and the contestant must reveal his answer and have it verified by the machine to advance. An inconsistent answer loses the game.

I felt like I was peeping in the window of my neighbor's bedroom while I was watching this, but that's beside the point. The show relies on heavy dramatic music, long pauses, and absolutely annoying commercial breaks to stretch out and/or manufacture drama rather than use loud noises, whizzers and joy buzzers to keep me tuned in.

Is this an improvement? It's certainly a trend. But how does it define the kind of person I am now? How do I reconcile this with the daytime "Price is Right"? Who am I becoming?

Boy, when you really need the media...


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