10 reasons why cable TV makes me grouchy
I love going to the movies and the whole cinematic experience. I love DVDs because one can skip disturbing bits, pause to answer the phone, and there are no commercials. The Internet is also great company where hard-to-find videos and brand new TV shows can be streamed.
I would have loved television, too, if we had TiVo. Regular television lets you down when one’s favourite channels abruptly go off air, only to be replaced with inferior ones (America Plus, E! and MNet, I miss you most of all).
On one occasion, I emailed BBC Drama requesting the schedule for a favourite program that wasn’t listed online. They replied back saying that they don’t even broadcast to Pakistan! (I kicked myself later when it went off air, hoping that I wasn’t the reason for its local demise).
We have close to 100 channels on TV – 100 more reasons to be grouchy. Here are the top 10 reasons, in my irate opinion, that make watching TV a cringe-worthy experience:
10. On-screen ads: Pirated movie channels with half the screen covered with advertisement banners for tuition centres and hair oil.
9. Channel shuffling: Just when you’ve memorised the numbers of the few channels that you watch, your considerate cable provider decides to rearrange their order again (this may be prevented if they started paying their subscription fees once in a while).
8. Annoying music videos:
- Excessively stylised Asian boy bands singing ballads
- Endlessly yow-owww-owwwling vocals by Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and their American Idol clones
- Pakistani crooners waving their arms out at Clifton beach to express their love
- Bollywood lipsynching in PVC clothes with hundreds of Eastern European strippers as extras.
7. Nightmarish cartoon translations:
Dora the Explorer that replaces Spanglish with Hinglish (‘mein hun map, mein hun map’), not to mention Spongebob Squarepants in Hindi/Urdu (fortunately, the title hasn’t been translated into ‘Sponge-Baab Chakor Patloon’).
6. Cookie-cutter Pakistani TV channels:
- Vociferous news channels racing to disaster sites faster than the police and contaminating crime scenes to capture them on camera.
- Sponsored cooking channels obliged to use the cooking oil, that provided their production budget, in every recipe.
- Self-proclaimed spiritual advisory channels anchored by kohl-wearing clerics.
- Marital-angst-ridden drama channels that inadvertently make people feel better about their own lives.
- Music channels where female VJs get harassed by desperados on live calls and SMS tickers.
- Sports channels where all but the official national sport is covered in detail (surprise – it’s hockey).
- Lollywood movie channels with earth-shattering dance choreography (literally).
- Punjabi stage-show channels that feature overt comedians exchanging a shouting match with starlets who break into mujra-mode every 10 minutes.
- Fashion channels going over models’ anatomies in slow-motion as the crux of their programming.
- Provincial channels that feature more moustachioed tribal men as representing Pakistan than international news channels do.
5. Urdu family-saga dramas:
Decades after Pakistani drama serials gained acclaim for their script writing and realistic themes, gimmicky features and cross-border ‘borrowing’ have now rendered many of them sentimental tear-jerkers or slapstick comedies with frightening laugh-tracks.
- Houses that are lit up brighter than commercials for house-paint and there’s never any loadshedding
- Caked-on actors’ makeup which will get even more painful to watch with HDTV.
- Dialogues that nobody uses in real life and delivered facing away from the other characters.
- Discrepancies in audio levels from various characters within the same scene (sound check, anyone?).
- Dubai shopping malls replacing local parks and Chinese restaurants as coveted locations for depicting blossoming romance.
4. Trying-to-be-funky Bollywood movie titles in trailers played around the clock:
From ludicrous Hinglish titles like I Hate Luv Storys, Luv Aaj Kal, Hum Tum Aur Ghost, Chance Pe Dance, Pyaar Impossible!, Meri Life Mein Uski Wife, Love Sex Aur Dhoka to unnecessary extra letters in names like Action Replayy, Toonpur Ka Superrhero, Dabangg, Hissss, Housefull. It’s too sad to even crack a smile.
3. Knorr’s TV jingle:
Where everybody sings “Kkkkaaa-norrrr” instead of “Nore.” One may argue that Germans pronounce it “Ka-nore,” but then, you’d also have to say Ka-nowledge (knowledge) and ka-nife (knife) to prove your point.
2. The abrasively high sound volume of TV commercials:
Why is it that commercials sound considerably louder than regular TV programming? The sudden escalation in the sound jolts one unpleasantly into hitting the mute button or changing the channel altogether.
And, what makes me most grouchy about TV is:
1. The frustration of time wasted that could be better spent writing ridiculous lists like this:
After flipping through channels for over an hour, there’s still nothing worth watching.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.