Last month we had the holydays break here. I have a confession to make. I spent some hours watching television. Just to remind everyone what we are dealing with, an historical quote is in place. Back in the thirties, when the TV was invented, one of the persons present there at AT&T said something like: "gentlemen, you have invented the ultimate time-wasting machine". The people who invented television had vision. Rough statistic says that in the US, about 50% of the children under two years old have TV in their rooms, and about 50% of the televisions are opened at any point in time even if no one is watching. In some sense, it is unfair to judge their culture by the level of their TV. First, there is a minority of people who are not watching. Secondly, at age five seconds they get attenuated TV virus vaccine (they are immuned). Still, it says a lot about this society, since they are not only viewing these programs, but also producing them.
The basic assumption of TV stations is that the even the most patient Canadian viewer cannot concentrate for more than 30 seconds on the same thing. If the show continues more than 30 seconds, he will zap. To keep the viewer in the same station, after 30 seconds the station will zap for him. They jump between subjects, locations, and commercials (here also on cables TV). However, the commercials look like sponsored video clips. They usually show a short movie, and write at the end the name of company who sponsored the clip. The connection between the clip to the product is very loose. Before you can read the company's name and understand its connection to the clip, the next commercial starts. There is no clear distinction between real programs and commercials. The only difference is that commercials repeat (news also repeat, but at a lower frequency). After the 10th time you understand the point of the commercial and after the 100th time it stuck in your mind. Some companies try to shorten the process by repeating 100 times in one second (faster than the refresh rate). The result is a sequence of flashing pictures and logos in a shameless attempt to manipulate the subconscious of the viewers.
Is there anything interesting to watch? Zapping through the stations, I discovered a variety of programs you will never encounter in Israel, such as news in Chinese, programs on the legacy of Jesus for Christmas and even "Let the Quran speek".
It surprised me that they copied titles of program from Israel, like "meet the press" and "crossfire". They have some debating programs as well, but nothing gets close to popolitica. They also have news, which are programs that assign real solutions for x,y,z in the formula: x people died in y due to z.
Other programs are mainly sports and comedies. Would you believe that university students here watch cartoons? At some point I realized that Canadians don't have the same humor we have in Israel. They laugh from things I would not consider funny, at unpredictable occasions. Sometimes I am really puzzled to see them laughing. I can't understand what was so funny. When you tell them something which is really funny, they either don't get it or laugh hysterically. I think it has a lot to do with the comedies they watch on TV.
Remember that in comedies like the Cosby show, they were saying at the end "The Cosby show was filmed in front of a live studio audience"? Today they don't say that anymore. There is a person whose job is to add laughter to the soundtrack, and he adds recorded laughter every two seconds. I am not even sure it is a person. It could very well be a computer (AHRS - Artificial Humor Recognition System). When you are watching, someone (laugh now) is telling (laugh now) you (laugh now) to laugh now (ha ha ha). It works, but is it funny?