The information explosion has kaboomed all over my TV set, like a swarm of bugs that hit your car windshield and squash themselves in front of your view.
For some time now, the sensibilities of viewers have been assaulted by those little bugs -- actually, symbols of networks such as the CBS eye -- that appear in the lower right of the screen and stay there for the duration of the program.
I have learned to live with this senseless bit of advertising, for the most part, especially in cases where it is shadowed enough to be barely discernable. It’s become an annoying fact of life, like getting sand in your swimsuit at the beach.
My local PBS affiliate had been using the little PBS head, which I was managing to accustom myself to, though I wonder why a nonprofit public broadcasting entity needs to use such reminders. Silly me. Their graphics department has now gone completely insane.
I tuned in last night to watch my favorite collection of political blowhards, The McLaughlin Group. There, almost completely obscuring Pat Buchanan, who sits in a chair on the lower right, was a new constellation of crap. While obscuring Pat Buchanan may not be such a bad thing, really, this was over the top. On the left side of the constellation was the PBS head. To the right was the station’s new logo -- ei8ht -- in large letters. Oh, how clever to make the “g” look like an “8” since this is Channel Eight! (The kids watching Sesame Street ought to have fun with that one . . . “But mommy, the TV says you spell “eight” with an “8” in the middle!”)
What genius at Arizona State University thought of this? How do I know Arizona State University is involved? Because below the “ei8ht” and the PBS head was written, in its glorious entirety, “Arizona State University.” It looks worse on the TV screen -- where "Arizona State" is on one line and "University" is below it -- than it does in the illustration here.
How much more crap can they put on the screen before they start covering Eleanor Clift as well?
To top it off, several times during the show a few zingy notes of music could be heard interrupting Mr. McLaughlin, accompanied by an orange band flashing across the screen announcing: “Next: Antiques Roadshow.”
The USA network already does this, with obnoxious animated images in the lower left corner promoting their next program. I only watch USA for Monk, so I could care less what’s on next.
Where will this trend end? Which station will be the first to rent out the upper right corner to Pepsi or Kentucky Fried Chicken? Will Fox News finally drop its pretense of “fair and balanced” reporting and put the Republican elephant on the upper left?
It almost makes me pine for the old days when TVs had knobs and you could forget what network you were watching and simply enjoy the program. What a revolutionary concept. Maybe some day it will catch on.
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