The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

My quest to learn the musical instrument struck a chord much greater than the beautiful sound of a perfect stroke.
I decided to learn the guitar, but I walked away learning more about life
Bella Edmondson, Staff Editor • June 19, 2024
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A creative slump

Today’s entertainment is a culture of borrowed ideas

Before I dig in this week, let me apologize for any fire that may have been generated by my last article about the Reality TV School. I presented an opinion, and while I stand by that. I realize it may have potentially hurt some reality alumni who volunteer up there. If you are interested give the school a shot-I don’t see myself doing it, but they might be able to boost confidence and provide some networking. The people who run it have worked casting calls in the past, so it’s an option for someone desperate for screen time.

Moving forward, the idea for this school is a microcosm for what’s currently on my mind-the only reason such an establishment can even exist in today’s world is because the industry has become obsessed with predictability. Since the top TV execs have some misguided representation of what audiences want, they’re going to be perfectly willing to churn out the same garbage over and over again. Casting coaches know what producers are looking for since they’ve seen a reality show at some point in their lives. Let’s go down the checklist. Villain? Check. Beautiful girl? Check? Nerdy guy who can’t pull his weight? Check. Throw in one or two angry guys meant to start fights and you pretty much have an episode of “Survivor.”

For evidence, all you have to do is check the primetime schedule. Let’s look for instance at Monday night: ABC’s flagship “Dancing with the Stars” is more or less “American Idol” with sequins, and the D-listers who win the show usually end up fading into obscurity much faster than David Cook or Kelly Clarkson. CBS airs four scripted sitcoms during that same time slot, focusing on such premises as a womanizer who never changes his ways (“Two and a Half Men”) and a group of friends living in New York City (“How I Met Your Mother”). Even NBC, the network who prides themselves for being among the most creative network on television, is airing a poor rip-off of “X-Men” and “The 4400” with “Heroes.”

Of course, I could stretch this idea even further into music and film. The top-grossing film in America the past two weeks is about a singing Chihuahua, and the number-one pop song according to Billboard is a synth-infused number by Britney Spears on the comeback trail. Wait a second…haven’t we already seen enough talking-dog movies and comebacks by Britney Spears? Maybe if they have one of the dogs sing like Spears I might be impressed. Otherwise, we’re just stuck with the same thing: Top 40 charts are dominated by pop, synthesized hip-hop, and the occasional “alternative” song performed by a man with a shrill voice.

Now I’m not trying to suggest that some wizard has walked in and cast a spell of apathy on all of America. There are some great ideas out there waiting to be discovered. The problem is that real chances for these people to succeed are being withered away by corporations and networks too bogged down in an economic crisis to take a big risk. User-generated content, I would argue, is not even what it used to be. Remember when stars were found through Myspace? It doesn’t seem that long ago that Tila Tequila and Colbie Callat found their way into the mainstream, but that was before Myspace started to offer a greater catalogue of mainstream songs. Now people are working less to find buried treasure since there’s so much of the familiar staring them in the eye.

With Youtube it’s almost the same thing: unless you know specifically what sort of insane video you’re looking for, you’re probably not going to find it. The majority of the home page is littered with advertisements and sponsored videos.

In a way we’ve always been dominated by a culture where creativity is the product of bigwigs sitting in a corporate office. Unfortunately, the difference now is that we have the means for success placed all around us, but the idea of “popular culture” as the only way is slowing us down. The idea for the next “Lost” or the next genre-bending style of music could be in someone’s head right now, but without a willing supporter or a few dollars thrown in the right direction it seems likely that TV, film, and music will all continue to struggle over the coming years.

Matt Carter is a senior creative writing, Asian studies and journalism triple major. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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