Column: I want my Current TV

By Eric Naing

One of the best parts about visiting home is that I get to watch my parents’ television and all the funky new channels that come with their satellite dish. Two such channels that recently caught my attention were Current TV and G4.

Cable television consistently is a vast wasteland of um . waste. On any given cable service there probably are a handful of original channels and an endless number of copycats. For every CNN, there also is a FOX News and MSNBC. For every MTV there is a VH-1, for each Lifetime an Oxygen. That is why I was caught so completely off guard by Current TV.

According to www.current.tv, “Current is about what’s going on: stories from the real world, told by you.” By ‘you’ they mean the 18-34-year-old demographic that can be ascertained by the hipper-than-thou “VJs,” flashy computer effects and gratuitous use of the Ramones. Oh yeah, the channel was also started by Al Gore, so expect things to skew a wee bit left.

What separates Current from other youth-oriented cable channels is that it has no regular programming. In attempt to ride the ultra-hip coattails of Apple, Current calls its shows “pods.” Each “pod” can be as short as three minutes or as long as seven minutes. The programs on Current range from poorly animated political satire to serious looks at the youth in Iran to what Paris Hilton is up to.

Though what really makes Current special is some of the “pods” are submitted by people like us. Current calls this “viewer-created content” or VC2, as in squared (because nothing is cooler than math). Anyone can grab a camera or a computer and create a “pod” and submit it to Current. If they put your creation on air, you will be paid up to $1,000 and could be featured on television.

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    Since every positive has a negative, I’ll move on to G4. G4 is another cable channel vying for that coveted 18-34 demographic. Though instead of attracting viewers by changing the way we view television G4 has stuff about video games . and reruns of “The Man Show.”

    To be fair, I’m not discounting G4 just because it’s a channel about video games. I am a gamer myself and recognize the cultural significance of video games (don’t laugh, I’m serious). The problem with G4 is that it panders to every horrible stereotype about people who play video games.

    Contrary to popular belief, not all gamers are teenage boys obsessed with big breasts and things that go real fast. Too bad G4 does not recognize this. Much of G4’s programming has nothing to do with video games at all and includes such titles as the Fast and the Furious-eque “Fastlane” to the aforementioned “The Man Show.”

    The shows that actually are about video games tend to be demeaning and boring. One such show is “Video Vixens” in which one of the guys from “I Love The 80s” ogles polygonal women. Another example would be “Arena” in which you literally watch a bunch of guys at a computer playing video games. Overall, I only found two shows to be enjoyable, “X-Play” for its humor and “Icons” for its insightful look at the video game industry.

    On an episode of “The Simpsons,” Bart and Grandpa both lament that nobody listens to them because of their age only to hear Homer rejoice that since he is a white male aged 18 to 49, everyone listens to him. Homer then proceeds to reach for a pack of Bubble Crum, the gum with a crunchy cracker center. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bubble Crum came from same corporate vortex that spawned G4.

    As cable channels like G4 do their best to destroy American culture, it’s refreshing that there’s something like Current TV that tries to be original and insightful. You are what you watch, so ask yourself, do you want to be a mini-documentary about base jumping or a rerun of “The Man Show?”

    Eric Naing is a senior in LAS. If Eric were a TV show, he would be “Yo! MTV Raps.” His column appears on Tuesdays. He can be reached at [email protected].