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Steven James Green

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That's (Not) Entertainment

Posted: 19/02/2013 02:21

For a while now the ongoing trend of recycled entertainment has been stronger than ever. In an age where we're blessed with a wealth of creative talent that's never been more accessible the question has to be asked of some of the larger media companies as to why they're taking the easy way out.

Last night saw ITV air the first of a two-part documentary about life inside the walls of Aylesbury Prison, which followed hot on the heels of Sir Trevor McDonald's investigation of the souls on death row at the Indiana State facility in the USA. Admirable programming about a worthy subject matter, but why were they both scheduled so close together?

Likewise, when BBC3 came up with the idea for Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents in 2011 it followed on from a similar reality format already used by Holiday Reps and Trust Me: I'm a Holiday Rep several years prior. The BBC's incarnation took a slightly fresher approach by giving parents an up close insight into what their children really get up to on holiday, but now into its third season it surely can't have much fuel left in the tank.

However, with the BBC now playing the show on heavy repeat Channel 4 decided to jump on the bandwagon by coming up with their own version; What Happens in Kavos. There's not too much difference between them, it's just teenagers blowing off steam, so why the need for more?

Both BBC3 and E4 have been guilty of heavy re-running, frequently showing the same two episodes of certain American sit-coms twice daily with a new episode sometimes thrown into the middle. When it's not shows about teenagers drinking too much, or rich Americans and their problems, or slightly less rich British people and their problems, a good series will occasionally surface, but the problem with that is the overwhelming urge we feel to pat ourselves on the back for watching them.

And it's not just television that suffers the same repetitive strain. Out of the top ten grossing movies in the UK last year only four were original stand-alone stories, the rest were either remakes or sequels, and there were only three original films in the top ten in 2011. That number at the moment this year is a satisfying zero, but with a new Superman film, amongst others, set for release this year that is almost certain to change.

Music has been going through a redevelopment phase for a long time now, but has so far yielded no artists who could realistically make it past three albums without the backing of a major label, a team of songwriters, and a superstar producer manipulating every track from top to bottom.

And finally, literature, the face of which has changed so drastically that the list of timeless works, enriching in both entertainment and enlightenment has dwindled at an alarming pace and transformed into a steaming pile of 'best sellers' and copycat repackages. God help the young novelist who's just put down On The Road with dreams of writing their own ode to the strange complexities of human character and bonhomie. It simply won't happen now.

Of course, entertainment is all a matter of personal taste, but not much of it is to mine at the moment. There is a dearth of excellent media out there, but very little of it will actually make it into out consciousness and I'm unsure as to which is sadder; the fact that this won't change or the placidity in which we demand it.

 

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