Friday, August 01, 2008

You Ain't Got No Alibi

Uptown Magazine! Anything less would be uncivilized!

You'll never guess who's in Uptown this w... oh. Okay, yeah, it's me. Wow, no fooling you.

It seems the formatting went a little wacky on this one, so there are some periods where some ellipses should have gone and vice versa -- but whatever! I think the message of the article still shines through, the message being that we need better TV.

(Yes, yes, the medium is the message. I see what I did there.)

Our local television scene used to be a vibrant, bizarre, enchanting little world all its own, a kaleidoscope of maniacs and puppets and elderly musicians and brightly coloured, lovingly hand-rendered computer line-art montages. (Oh -- and, of course, twelve-year-old Kaj Hasselriis reviewing movies. Seriously, did anybody on public access television not end up running for mayor?) But now? The best we can do for local content nowadays is to act surprised when a weatherman jumps from one station to another, to feign excitement about watching a Goldeyes game, or to stare blankly at Kinsmen Bingo and have a small existential crisis about whether or not this is all there is to life.

To closer examine the root of my discontent, consider the following video at length.

I'm assuming that you aren't reading this at work with YouTube blocked, because that's just going to look like blank space otherwise. Humour me as I transcribe selected excerpts:

"The channel allows you, the viewing public, the opportunity to express your ideas through the medium of television. The programs you watch on VPW are produced by local people who have something to share with their community.

"If you would like to be part of community access television, either before the cameras expressing your views and sharing your talent or behind the scenes as part of the production team, we will assist you to develop the necessary production skills.

"In addition to programs produced by individuals, VPW also presents mobile coverage of community events. If your group has an up-and-coming event that you would like to share with the community, please call us to discuss arrangements for possible mobile coverage; you may also promote your up-and-coming event on VPW 11, and on Videon's public service announcement channel."

[. . .]

"Stay tuned to VPW, as your community presents alternative television."

Hells yes, 'alternative television'! The very idea! Two minutes of Videon station identification from 1988 serve to highlight everything that we had back then, or more to the point everything that we don't have now; individuals have no access points, no production training is provided for interested community members, anyone looking for a 'public service announcement channel' is probably forced to use Facebook instead, and the only way your community event will get mentioned in passing on (urgh) SHAW TV is if you've got some very high-placed business interests backing you up.

Our 'community' station is a steaming stream of vapid, business-friendly, milquetoast pablum operated exclusively by professionals on the payroll of a Calgary cable conglomerate who have no intention of letting anyone else in on the fun. But, as I mention in the article, even our (openly) privately-owned stations could be chipping in and giving everybody something to identify with. Come on, private broadcasters! Step it up!

Perhaps you recall Buckley and Beave, the anthropomorphic puppet hosts of the MTN Kids Club, and if you do then this next video will both perplex and astound you:

The Environment Canada screens are clearly the best part of this video, but that's beside the point for now. Somebody out there legitimately took the time and effort to piece this... tribute... together, which is irrationally terrifying I will guarantee is not going to happen in fifteen years' time with the crap we're airing now.

I just want Winnipeg to have interesting television again! Is this genuinely so much to ask? Help a brother out here!


RunGOrd said...

... twelve-year-old Kaj Hasselriis reviewing movies...

Ha! I used to watch VPW. For a while I was even on Chris Boyce's show, reviewing movies (I don't remember if it was Kid's Report or something a little later).
A few people involved in that have gone on to work at CBC.
Man, I'd almost forgotten about that. Good old VPW. Pollock & Pollock, anyone?

Jason said...

Thank you for those...comments on my video. Yes, that is just one of my videos from theSameRetroWinnipeg, the alternate, absurd spin-off of the main RetroWinnipeg channel.

I read your article in Uptown, and I think that it would definitely help for audiences to see the classic Winnipeg television that they probably never grew up with at all. What would really help in your cause is to save RetroWinnipeg, which was suspended by one rotten video (dispute was resolved, but I will have to save another account in order to save RetroWinnipeg...this will involve CTV). I might need your help in order to get CTV Winnipeg to re-instate some CKY promos removed in 2006 (similar videos now aren't being removed...see CFTO, CJOH, CFCF videos on YouTube). But for now, I would suggest voicing your opinions on the lack of local television to CTV (Winnipeg or HQ)by contacting them, and suggest to them that web channels like RetroWinnipeg can help bring alive the local programming that was once plentiful. Saving RetroWinnipeg could be the first step towards bringing the interesting TV that you, and others who share our interests, so dearly crave.

Should I do another U.G.L.Y. video? This time with Kevin Glenn and Ryan Dinwiddie? :)