Public Access and the Fringe

The LA Times has a story about the more fringe content of some public access TV:

“Stations nationwide offer the unedited whimsy of eccentric novice producers who will probably never be ready for prime time. Among the offerings have been the man in Michigan who went on the air with a penis puppet, the Manhattan show with close-up footage of underwater childbirth and the Los Angeles program on which porn stars display their skills. …

“Public access has evolved into a kind of open-mike format, in which people can, and sometimes do, say anything. The results sometimes entertain, often baffle and increasingly agitate viewers.

For all the hullabaloo for the more adult and pornographic content that shows up on public access in some cities, I have to ask how much worse is this stuff than what passes on shock-jock morning radio? Yes, TV is more visual, but otherwise the differences aren’t so great.

Because it’s so sensational and naughty, the dirty stuff tends to overshadow the majority of programming that is less sexually graphic but nonetheless communicates independent and honest perspectives from people in the community. Never mind that so much of what is the fringe is there to challenge people and get them to think (rather than pander to them and get them to buy).

When I hear about someone getting their undies in a bunch over a public access TV show, what occurs to me is that this person would really rather that a whole segment of the population, a range of ideas and thoughts, be cordoned off and hidden away. Spare the king from the rabble.

I guess so many have given up on any real hope that they can affect what their force-fed on commercial TV, so they have to unleash all this pent up anxiety on public access TV because it seems like it should be under their control. How frightening it must be, then, to learn that the most effective way to exert that control is to actually produce some programming, rather than sit back in the recliner and bitch and moan.






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