Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Superlative-mania

I don't want to blame the iPad. So I'll blame Glee. Blame for what?

My ire. My frustration... I am more than done with hype deeming things the "best things ever."

Ah, before you protest hear me out. I am all for guilty pleasures (I mean, anyone who has ever seen my iPod knows this). But, when something has obvious flaws - or worse, several obvious flaws - how does it suddenly become elevated to "legend" status? Or "revolutionary" status?

Exhibit A - Glee. This could be a good show. Lord knows the acting talent is there. Is it used? Not so sure. What is glaringly awful? First, the show was written by a teenager. Or so it seems. Melodrama is lovely, but doing it the expense of truly becoming attached to any of the characters? That's definition bad TV writing. I do not simply need to be entertained by a show in a world with an Internet. Every time the show seems to do something that might make me care to turn in next week beyond hearing some new performance, they come up with some ridiculousness that renders it moot.

Beyond the writing, the songs have been glorified to some insane level that people are actually telling me they prefer the Glee versions of songs to originals. That's fine and all, and I could argue the contrary point... but regardless. A three-minute song and dance doesn't make a 22-minute half hour of TV great.

Yet, everywhere I turn... "Glee is the best show!" On what measure? I wish I could tell you. I have yet to read a TV review of the show that actually reviews the TV aspect of the program. It's all - "oh how fun!" It's the Pepsi Challenge of TV... try it in a small taste and you love it. And tell people how great it is. Drink a whole bottle and... my doesn't that taste a bit too sweet?

Exhibit B - The iPad. This week, I met someone on a plane with an iPad. I played dumb. I asked what was great about it. "Oh it's just so cool! Look!" I asked "How does it do as an e-reader?" The response was: "Well, it works great as one. I mean I haven;t read a book on it yet, but I tried it for a couple minutes and it's totally great!"

Well, kids... maybe I'm nuts. Or maybe other people are starting to realize a backlit LCD screen that is smudged with touchpad fingerprints yet still turns into a damned mirror in sunlight might not be the best way to read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

And yet... finding a mainstream review - a real I-tried-it-for-a-set-amount-of-time-and-here's-what-I-thought review - is difficult? Yes it looks cool. Yes, it does lots of cool things. How bloody well does it do them?! Instead I get articles about "Are you making the most of iPad media for your business?" Sorry, I don't make business decisions for anything that barely has market share. Apparently other people do.

I could go on... for instance, all year I had to hear how great a quarterback Tim Tebow is though he routinely throws behind receivers and can't read defenses.

Make. It. Stop. I am sure everything mentioned above has its merits. But don't cheapen standards by suddenly making these things into the best things since the wheel. The iPod, for example, actually changed things. This was brand spanking new technology that fit an existing functional need (we all carried around music... now we carry all of it around). American Idol, love it or hate it, showed that TV could be produced cheaply (relatively) and draw the biggest audience short of the Super Bowl.

Glee breaks zero new ground and cheapens writing. It asks nothing of you... which is a reason to enjoy it, but also a reason to see it as what it is. The iPad does many things and possibly none of them well... certainly not so well that I need to lobby my office to switch us off of laptops and go for the iPad. And, sorry... if you think otherwise, you are not living in functional reality.

Like these things all you want. But pretty please lose the hyperbole.

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