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FC Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez from Chile, left, duels for the ball against Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (MANU FERNANDEZ/AP)
FC Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez from Chile, left, duels for the ball against Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (MANU FERNANDEZ/AP)


5 reasons to get mad at the TV Add to ...

The common question asked of me in the last few months has been this: “Any news about La Liga games returning to TV in Canada?” Yep, the lack of Spanish soccer on TV here is making people angry.

For months now, the rights to La Liga games in the United States and Canada have been held by a new outfit, beIN SPORT USA, an offshoot of the Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera. It’s not available in Canada and the rights to La Liga have not been sublet to any Canadian broadcaster.

Such is the anger that people are talking about boycotting Al Jazeera and anything to do with Qatar. They’re talking about protesting Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup in 2022. All because a Qatar-based broadcaster is depriving people of the ability to watch Spanish soccer. I’m not surprised. It gets very personal with television coverage, not just soccer.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Senator Joe Manchin III (Democrat, West Virginia) is just so mad about MTV’s new reality show, Buckwild, which is set in his state. According to the Washington Post, Manchin has written to MTV president Stephen Friedman asking that the network “put a stop to the travesty called Buckwild.”

Buckwild will debut in January and features a gaggle of twentysomethings living in and around Sissonville, W. Va. The previews suggest a lot of drinking and horsing around. Apparently Manchin told MTV, “As a U.S. Senator, I am repulsed at this business venture, where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth. I cannot imagine that anyone who loves this country would feel proud profiting off of Buckwild.”

Indeedy. The Senator is angry that the gentle youths of West Virginia are about to be portrayed as total hosers. Meanwhile, in a footnote to this fuss, a comment on the Washington Post story posits that the “M” in MTV stands for “Marxist” and suggests that MTV is “the primary propaganda outlet for cultural Marxism.” It’s not mentioned if the commenter plans to protest this situation.

In the United Kingdom, people are protesting the use of certain footage in a BBC Panorama program about the battle between drivers and cyclists on Britain’s roads. Footage from a helmet-camera used by a cyclist suggested that some drivers turn into violent psychopaths when dealing with cyclists. Viewers – most of them drivers – have angrily pointed out that the cyclist on the program was rude, obnoxious and provoked drivers. They are sick and tired of being portrayed as violently anti-cyclist.

Also, viewers, critics and bloggers are outraged by events on Homeland. Last week’s episode, which saw some pretty outlandish twists featuring Carrie, Brody, the vice-president and terrorist bigshot Abu Nazir, brought online protests and many complaints. “That was so ludicrous,” bellowed the Salon reviewer, and continued, “Like crazy, bananas, bonkers, idiotic, insane, stupid, contrived, deranged, are you sure this was not actually a spoof episode of Homeland?”

Others have chimed in, and the upshot is an angry chorus of “That would never, ever happen!”

And then there’s singer Adam Levine, who also acts as a coach on The Voice. He’s angry about the success of the TLC show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. In an interview with GQ magazine, Levine said, “Seriously, Honey Boo Boo is the decay of Western civilization. That show is literally The. Worst. Thing. That’s. Ever. Happened.” Then he cursed about it.

This instance of anger takes us back to Sen. Joe Manchin III, who is just so darn mad about MTV’s Buckwild. Both Levine and the Senator are just anti-redneck, you could say.

The truth is that people take television very, very seriously, though sometimes they are wrong-headed in their reasons for doing that.

However, TV deserves to be taken seriously because it offers entertainment, insight and a map of the culture. If you don’t like where the map takes you, it’s possible to take another road.

It’s absurd to complain about MTV’s Buckwild or Honey Boo Boo. There is no conspiracy to coarsen U.S. culture, just as MTV, is not an Marxist organization. The culture is coarse enough as it is. It is also vital, vibrant and teeming with both vigour and absurdity. All of it can be found on TV, not just the bits that have the approval of Senators or pop singers. In the U.K., even the BBC uses exaggeration to make a point. If you fail to recognize shock tactics, then you are a fool. If you apply the “that would never happen” rule to a drama about the CIA, the FBI and terrorists, then you are also foolish.

All the protests listed here are pointless. Except the one about the absence of La Liga. That’s just ridiculous. I’m going to write to the Qatar people. Call me a fool. But, see, I do sympathize with all those angry people who are incensed by something on TV, or not on TV, as the case may be.

Airing tonight

Absolutely Fabulous (Vision, 8:30 p.m.) repeats one of its best episodes. Saffy returns from prison where she has spent time for providing fake passports for asylum seekers. A prison pal shows up, spooking Patsy. Then Patsy has to consider signing up for her old-age pension. The bit where Bubbles tells Saffy about events she has missed, especially the royal wedding, is side-splitingly hilarious.


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