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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Resetting the Influence of American TV

Rachel Marsden takes a look at the Nielsen ratings and draws some interesting conclusions, including:
  • People like watching actors do anything other than act
  • The cable news race is like a fight for a participation ribbon
  • Americans would rather watch fake investigations than real ones
  • Hispanic-Americans don't integrate, if their TV viewing habits are an indication
  • Cable TV is for sports
I recall during the run-up to the last presidential election there was some panel on which Peggy Noonan sat, and she made the point (whining, really) that we lost something when the recognized basis for news was no longer three network news shows and a couple national newspapers. She alleged effectively that the lack of a common set of facts damaged our political discourse. (Never mind, of course, the polarizing lens through which those "common facts" were filtered.)

It appears that that fragmentation applies to the popular culture as well. What may be the most interesting trend to watch is the one regarding Latino integration. If they are not culturally curious enough to watch American TV, what other institutions will aid their integration? This is not a trivial point in light of the growing realization in Europe that multiculturalism is a failing philosophy. Will there be a resurgence of those institutions that existed before the invention of TV, or will something new take its place? 

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