As I expected, the Royal wedding was on almost every channel on the day of the marriage.. In the days leading up to the ceremony the television coverage – as I’m sure it was in the United States – overwhelmed everything else. I can only imagine how it played out in the United States but – even on the “mainline” news shows – it seemed that every channel had to have at least one fashion diva and one fashion gay guy. The most serious of the news programs had a Royal historian, an expert on Royal trivia and customs, one woman fashion commentator and one gay guy who was either a fashion designer or fashion critic. It seemed that every station had to have half of their commentators dedicated to the important topic of fashion.
It would have been comical if it wasn’t so pathetic to hear each of these four commentators jockey for position in the virtual pecking order that played out on Australian national television. I remember the Royal “know it all” was commenting on how classy the mother of the bride was, how she was so refined and how she looked graceful when the gay guy chimed in, “Oh, look at how her dress is pleated, isn’t it wonderful!” Really dude? Her dress? Later, the Royal historian was explaining the relationship of some of the Royal cousins when the woman fashion critic cut him off saying, “Wow, get a look at that hat, you could get satellite reception with that,” to which the gay guy chimed in, “Oh my God, you’re soooo-oo right!” And they both cackled and laughed while the poor historian had to wait for them to finish their bantor before he could continue.
And so, I feel less embarrassed by American television after watching that spectacle.
In America, the news seems to be clearly separated from advertising. Not so in Australia; the morning show and many of the news shows are running adverts wherein the anchor or host will interview a business owner who then shamelessly plugs their product. At the bottom of the screen ordering contact for the product scrolls by. The entire thing is put out as if it were some kind of consumer advocacy – the news team isn’t trying to sell you anything, they’re doing some sort of investigative reporting on the latest bra design or termite control (each “news clip” included a rep from the company and screen information on how to order “3 bras for the price of one, this offer not available in stores,” or $150 off a termite inspection for the first 1,000 callers). I see a lot of advertisements in Australia that are camouflaged as consumer notices or education.
Daytime Aussie TV is full of 1970’s reruns. Talk about flashbacks! I’m seeing a whole lot of repeats from Quincy, I Dream of Genie, Bewitched, McGiver, Gunsmoke, and Hogan’s Heroes.” I wondered where all of those shows had gone in America – they’ve been sold to the market down under.
Australia has its own version of many of the TV shows you see in England and America: Australia’s Got Talent, Deal or No Deal, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and an Aussie version of Hell’s Kitchen, something like Australia’s Top Chef. The Australia’s Got Talent show has a “bad guy” that tries to play like Simon on American Idol but he’s not nearly as rude. Australia reminds me of private school verses America being like a rough public school. Even when the performers really suck, no one says so, they say (with that brilliant Aussie accent), “No-oh, sow-rry, not going to mayke eet.” Everyone is so polite and helpful. On one hand you want to roll your eyes in disgust but then you realize that they’re actually sincere and then it seems pleasant enough.
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