Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Why I'm glad the world isn't HBO (revised)

I was out for my evening walk (that I say is for fresh air but is really to avoid writing work) last night. When I stumbled upon several of the boys from Sketch22 sitting down and having a beer. Sketch22, for those who may not know is a sketch comedy group... a troupe... gang... here in Charlottetown. They are enjoying their third summer of fairly large and often sold out houses, but aren't without controversy. It doesn't seem to bother most of them.

Anyway, after they were gracious enough to invite me to join them, conversation turned to the shows everybody's been watching and in particular HBO's very fine Deadwood. Now not everybody had seen it, some had been meaning to watch it, some had only watched season one, some season two, and a couple of us have been enjoying season three, but we all agreed what a fine show it was and what a shame that HBO wasn't going to let them do a fourth season. But that HBO had a lot of fine programming.

This led to one of the guys to say: "Man, their shows are so awesome. They can say anything they want, they can show anything they want! I wish the world was HBO!"

And for some reason this got me all squawky. I started talking about how that's crazy talk and I don't want HBO programming all over. That I wanted HBO to stay on HBO, and many other things I just didn't believe.

It took me a day of rolling my eyes at myself, and working on another post about "branding" and story-telling (coming soon) to figure out what set me off.

It seemed to me that HBO was somehow being equated with freedom of artistic expression. Instead of a brand that stands for a particular kind of programming. Which led me to wonder: is showing sex and violence and using strong language freedom of expression when you HAVE to show sex and voilence and use strong language?

I would argue: It's not freedom, it's HBO.


Rob MacD said...

I think you heard him differently than I did, and may be slightly misquoting him. While I don't recall his exact words, I took his comment to mean "the world would be a better place if everyone were capable of enjoying the type of programming that HBO offers, rather than getting their panties in a bunch every time so-called lewd behaviour was exhibited."

Dave said...

Hmm. You may be right, Rob.

Although, when I mentioned it to him up at Victoria Row a few minutes ago he seemed to agree that that was what he was saying. I do remember "I wish the world was HBO."

But evenso, it's funny, I was about to delete this post hoping I'd get to it before anyone else read it. This has way more to do with stuff I've been think about storytelling and structure lately, than any resemblance to the realities of HBO programing... or what
what our pal might have said last night.

So in that spirit I'll leave the post up.

J. G. Rodgers said...

I don't think HBO shows necessarily HAVE to include sex, violence, and strong language; it's just expected.

After all, what other advantages are there to being on a subscription-based cable channel like HBO? Smaller audiences?

Hamish MacDonald said...

What I find awkward is watching actors speak cusswords and being obviously unskilled at it. You know they saw it in the script and thought "Oooh! I get to say that, finally!", but when it actually enters into the dialogue, it's like a bird in the house.

graham said...

It's an art of it's own, cussin.

I also hold Showcase in the same high regard.
And I also like regular TV. And movies, comics, theatre, Video Games, books, the interweb etc.
It's a fun era to be alive in.

Dave said...

I agree, graham, when it's brought to the level of art, like David Milch can, there's nothing better... But when it's not, it comes off like the gross plays i wrote as a teenager.

The Sullen Teen stands proudly by the door, his knapsack at his feet ST:"I don't fuckin' care! I don't give a shit about all your rules! I'm leaving, goddamit."

Man, there was some solid gold stuff there.