Senseless

Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. ~Alfred Pennyworth in The Dark Knight

After a particularly rough day some years ago, a friend of mine jokingly mused “Now I understand what prompts people to bring a gun into the workplace.” At the time, the Post Office was the butt of many jokes regarding workplace violence, but outbreaks of gunfire in public places were not commonplace. Unfortunately, they seem to be more and more common these days. Of course, I refer with a heavy heart to the shooting at a midnight showing of the latest Batman film in Colorado that claimed the lives of at least a dozen people and injured scores more. And the worst of it is that the victims will disappear into the story while the shooter becomes an infamous celebrity overnight as we ponder the why and the motivation.

And each political side will have its day, with some claiming that this is yet another reason to ban firearms, while others claim that a system of leniency has catered to the derangement of this individual. Non-stop coverage will have already begun while I type this, and we will never know why this happened and what could be done to prevent it in the future.

The concerning part for me is that the media has already cast off the mantle of terrorism, as though only people of certain ideologies or citizens of certain countries are capable of terrorism. As though terrorism is restricted to an individual or group that have already been vilified. Ask any of the survivors of last night’s shooting and see if they’re not terrified. Will they ever be able to attend a movie again without wondering if it will be the last film they see? That is the definition of terror: inspiring intense fear and anxiety. We shouldn’t lessen the crime by creating an idea of safety rooted in the notion that because it didn’t happen in a war zone, or was not carried out by a person whose religious beliefs differ from ours, or because the shooter acted alone that it was not an act of terror.

My thoughts go out to the families of the victims, to the survivors, and to the family of the shooter who probably cannot imagine what would possess their child or sibling to do this horrible thing. It is my desire that a sense of peace and calm is restored to Colorado in the coming days and that people can come together to remember the good in humanity and not dwell on the evil.

Cable Wars…haven’t we done this?

The people who provide entertainment, and I use that word loosely, have begun a pissing contest to see who can make a bigger mess on the floor. It’s quite ridiculous, but it has gotten enough out of hand that I felt compelled to break out my typing skills and blow the dust off the old blog. For the purposes of disclosure, I am a DirecTV customer.

First, let’s identify a few players:

Time Warner Cable (formerly Insight, here in Louisville, KY) is a national media juggernaut. The second largest multiple service provider in the nation with more than 15 million subscribers. Its CEO is Glenn Britt who ranks #87 on Forbes’ CEO Compensation list at 16.55 million a year.

DirecTV is one of the world’s leading providers of digital television services with more than 32 million customers. Its CEO is Michael White who ranks #298 on Forbes’ CEO Compensation list at 5.74 million a year.

Viacom is a leading global entertainment content company, a conglomeration of television, movies, etc. Its CEO is Phillipe Dauman who ranks #27 on Forbes’ CEO Compensation list at 30.89 million a year.

Before this all gets out of hand, my main focus is to be the current DirecTV/Viacom kerfuffle that seems to be gathering steam. But, I do want to cover Time Warner. Time Warner, recently, turned off its broadcast of the WDRB, our Fox affiliate, over a contract dispute. It was eventually resolved, but not before customers lost programming for a while. Currently, Time Warner is in a dispute with WLKY, our CBS affiliate, which has eliminated local programming. Instead, they’re piping in something from Rochester, I believe.

None of that matters to me. Why? Well, I’m a DirecTV customer and have been for 9 years. We had Insight for about 4 hours. That’s how long it operated correctly. When we called to complain, they said it would be nine days for them to come out and fix it. My wife wasted no time in fixing it herself by dropping the service. However, they continued to bill us for service we weren’t receiving and only after a letter to the Better Business Bureau did they finally stop. Every few months they send around more sales guys who are doing their best to “save us money.” For a long time, we could ask if they had MLBNetwork, a staple in our home, as it’s really the only sports channel I care for, and that would stop them at the door. Finally, they’ve added it…but it’s unlikely we’ll switch, because DirecTV has been outstanding in every level of service for the last nine years, that it seems silly to switch. Plus, I doubt if they’ll save me that much money. Time Warner is known for its rate hikes.

Okay…on to DirecTV and Viacom. Now, Viacom apparently wanted to charge more for its programming, which DirecTV was not happy about. Consequently, they decided to turn off those Viacom channels. Negotiations are still ongoing, but customers are losing programming. And, it’s to this point that I was really moved to write something…because I received an email from Viacom telling me what I was missing and I should go and complain to DirecTV about this. Here’s why I’m not going to.

The channels that I’m now “missing” are MTV, Nick, Comedy Central, BET, TVLand, VH1, CMT, Spike, and 18 more. The best part of this is the 18 more…like Viacom couldn’t be bothered to tell you about them, because you’re probably not watching them anyway. Then, Viacom goes on to list the shows that I’m “missing” on these channels: Jersey Shore, The Real World: St. Thomas, Snooki and JWoww, Teen Mom, Teen Wolf, Dora the Explorer, iCarly, Spongebob Squarepants, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Futurama, Workaholics, The Game, 106 & Park, Black Girls Rock!, Reed Between The Lines, Single Ladies, Mob Wives, Hollywood Exes, Basketball Wives, Divas, 1000 Ways to Die, Repo Games, Auction Hunters, Impact Wrestling, Bar Rescue, Flip Men, Hot in Cleveland, Happily Divorced, Bayou Billionaires, My Big Redneck Vacation, Redneck Island, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, The Singing Bee, 1 Girl 5 Gays, RuPaul’s Drag U, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, In the Big House…and that’s just a sampling of the high quality programming that I’m “missing.” 

Of those 40 or so shows, I watched 3 of them with mediocre regularity…2 of those 3 I can get through Netflix. So, I guess what I’m saying is that I was not a big Viacom constituent. Nothing has really changed for me. I’d also say that if you are watching a lot of this content (and this is going to sound elitist, and there’s really nothing I can do to soften the blow here), not only do we probably not have a lot in common, but you’re most likely contributing to the continued downfall of society. Except for The Daily Show. I love Jon Stewart and that might be the most valuable show on television. Still, I wasn’t watching it that much, so maybe it wasn’t. Sorry Jon.

I never watched MTV, BET, TVLand, VH1, or CMT for any reason. I watched Nick with my daughter occasionally, although she much prefers Sprout. I only watched Spike when they were running the Star Wars film marathons. I did occasionally watch Comedy Central for The Daily Show and for comedy specials, but Netflix again has me covered for the most part.

So, I remain a loyal DirecTV customer as they seem to have my best interests at heart. But, this ridiculous “he said/he said” nonsense that always accompanies these entertainment showdowns is annoying. It does nothing but detract from my television watching…which, now that I think about it, might be a good thing anyway.

See you in the funny papers!