It’s nearly impossible to write TV comedies these days because cussing has become the only accepted form of humor. It’s almost as though it’s more polite to be impolite.
Three things are clear and cloudless in my mind. First, it has become difficult to write — even when using the simplest of language. Second, people can be divided into analog and binary thinkers. And third, the future, as we’re now all aware, isn’t what it used to be.
Let’s start by analyzing the latter. Years ago, one could personalize the future based on one’s dreams. For example, one might finish high school, go to college to earn an Ethnic and Civilization Studies degree, be a contestant on a TV game show, have a career, marry one’s high school sweetheart, have children, and retire to Florida or the Canary Islands. Some of the more creative people even managed to change the above sequence mid-stream by starting over — re-marrying, launching a new venture, leaving Tuscany and moving to one of the Dakotas.
There were even some who dreamed of dropping out of high school at 15, joining an Osho or Ephrata commune, OD-ing on green tea, and becoming a millionaire by the age of 30.
Today, the dreams of young people are: Find a low-rent apartment they can afford without roommates; convince the government that they can’t pay back their student loans; get jobs that pay above minimum wage; get health insurance; buy an iPhone that can isolate them from the rest of the world; and get weird tattoos in order to fit in on any number of reality TV shows.
Indeed, young people’s futures don’t look all that promising; certainly not as promising as they did during the pre-tattoo era of years ago!
Let’s move on to the second precept, which is especially clear in the television industry. While analog people think in terms of lines moving up and down, binary folks think in forms of zeros and ones. The analog TV people think that content is king, while their binary counterparts think distribution is the monarch. Fortunately, distribution is a technology and viewers don’t watch technology.
The fact that streaming is now all the rage and broadcast television is all enraged, gives the binary people the virtual illusion that distribution is paramount to everything else, not realizing that, over the years, forms of distribution have constantly changed, and will continue to change, while the need for content to fill various distribution pipes has steadily remained the people’s brioche.
Finally, the ability to write in a simple, readable language is becoming a very difficult task. This is because it is less troublesome to write with a politically correct syntax, or in newspeak. But if a writer wants to cross over by reaching two diverse target audiences, let’s say the radical chic and the radical right, then both groups will castigate the author.
These days, it seems that people only want to read what they like to hear, regardless of whether it is accurate or not. Pre-concepts are more important than new concepts to the point that even science has become polarized and scientists politicized.
Today, writing TV comedies is almost impossible as cussing has become the only acceptable form of humor. It’s almost as though it’s polite to be impolite. And that’s not a nice prospect for those rebellious scribes among us.
(By Dom Serafini)
Audio Version (a DV Works service)