It's the time of year for wish lists, and unless they're talking about chins, butts, or beer bellies, people generally want more of something. But I can think of quite a few things we need less of, and many of those are part of our mass media environment.
Like Adult Contemporary music. Although it's the most popular radio format, no one can tell you what Adult Contemporary is. That's because it's really a marketing concept. A prospective advertiser asks: "What kinda music you play?" and you say: "Adult Contemporary." That means no kids' stuff, just mature listeners, but not so mature that they have one foot in the grave. Then the program directors stack their playlists with junk that resembles music the same way that Bunny Bread does fine cuisine. Does anyone really get excited when Celine Dion releases a new CD?
Or how about TV talk shows? At last count, there are more than a dozen, which is probably twice as many as we need. It's hard to believe that audiences sit around all day in vicarious participation with the sordid sex lives of people who they're glad don't live next door. It used to be that you saw poor saps like this on game shows, but now the producers have learned they are willing to humiliate themselves without even getting a consolation prize. The genre has become a career saver for out-of-work TV personalities, comics, and failed politicians.
Speaking of whom, we could use less political advertisement, a whole lot less. Notwithstanding Senator McConnell's belief that it's our constitutional right to bribe politicians by buying them more TV time, I think the practice is disgusting. There's more money in politics now than honest folks need and most of it goes for television attack ads. The only way to stop this tomfoolery is to limit it to 2 or 3 weeks before the election. Meanwhile, let the politicians spend their time traveling around, meeting voters, and learning about the mood of the country from real people, not pollsters.
Bill Gates -- I'd like to see less of him. Despite the fact that he can retire the entire Third World debt with front-pocket money, he's not very appealing. Nor do most people understand what he did to become filthy rich. Perhaps the next generation or two of the Gates family will be more interesting. That's usually the way it is with workaholic billionaires.
I could do with less economic news too. It's gotten so that you can't even pick up the sports or entertainment sections of a newspaper without reading about someone's contract or box office receipts. A TV News Director whom I know cut back on business news a few years ago, and his audience never missed it. He claimed that all stories about the economy are depressing, and no one understands them anyway. That about sums up my perspective. Consider that for the last month, we have heard that the US economy is going down the poop shoot because people are spending more than they make, and dipping into their savings to do it. Is it possible that some of these people have been saving their money to spend it later and avoid taking out a loan? We used to call that behavior thrift, but now we're supposed to leave our money in the bank so some clever hedge fund manager can use it to finance Brazilian button factories or tin mines in Mindanao. Besides, we didn't invent savings accounts. The US gave the world economy MasterCard, revolving credit, FHA mortgages, and 120% home equity credit lines. Not to use them would be un-American.
I could list more media I'd like less of, like magazines, telephone companies, and Stephen King books, but I'll stop before this becomes excessive. Instead, let me wish you happy holidays and a New Year full of a whole lot less.