23 June 2010

Saving Soaps: The case for functional parenting.

Call me old fashioned. Call me a traditionalist. Call me whatever you want. But there is not a day that goes by when I watch soaps that I don't yearn for the return of the traditional family. And by traditional, I don't mean super sweet and happy. But is it too much to ask for the following?

My list of demands:
  • The wise patriarchal grandparents who heap advice and wisdom over a pot of tea (which of course implies that old people get air time on soaps).
  • That mothers DO NOT sleep with son-in-laws and fathers DO NOT sleep with daughters-in-laws.
  • That parents DO NOT kill their kids and kids DO NOT kill their parents.
  • That families gather together at holidays and other special events. In particular, when your kid is dying/getting married/giving birth, perhaps that might be a good time to fly in instead of staying at your chalet in the Swiss Alps.
  • That today's career soap dads take a lesson from Mac Cory (AW, played by the late great Douglass Watson) that no matter how successful you are and how busy you are, family always comes first.
  • That it is not acceptable to ship off your kids to boarding school for 10 years with no summer visit.
I don't think what I am asking for is unreasonable. And I expect a healthy dose of dysfunction because our families are dysfunctional too.

Once upon a time you used to have family units on soaps. And those families stuck somewhat cohesively with one another. Families like the Cory's, the Martin's, the Bauer's', the Horton's, the Brady's, the Abbots.... the list goes on.

Now it seems like every one is an independent unit that occasionally connects with a family member. That families are so dysfunctional you can't trust that they will turn to each other. You never see the patriarch's or matriarch's anymore and goodness knows, no one turns to them anyways. You seldom see a parent sit down with their children and share good wholesome advice. And worst of all, there is just way too much air time focusing on individuals who have no family history connections on the show at all.

I don't think I am asking for too much, but can the powers that be work hard to restore the family units. That they restore the art of the afternoon tea chat. That they show families occasionally happy, and not just at Christmas? That families turn to one another? I think most viewers want that, because after all, aren't soaps to be a exaggerated expression of our own collective experiences?

20 June 2010

Saving Soaps: Old Soap Intros.

T.V. was my babysitter growing up. And that wasn't a bad thing because there were good quality shows for children back then. Did I watch any of those types of shows? Nope. I watched soap operas! I used to have a soap for every hour and even tape them so I could watch them when I got home. I can actually trace pivotal moments in my life by what happened on various soaps. My hardest cry ever was when Jessica died on One Life to Live. I cried for (I kid you not) two full hours. And I honestly feel like when I watch soaps, I escape into this alternate world where the people are real. Even now, my mom and I will have actual discussions about The Young and The Restless and discuss the story lines and characters as if they were real. Or we will go out, but have to get back by 4 because "Y&R is on and it's getting good. Victor knows where Adam is".

Soaps have long been an integral part of my life. Sadly, I don't really watch them as much as I should (save for Y&R) because..well..they haven't really been all that good. What makes things sadder is that any thing that was actually good has been canceled and are now a part of my distant path (GL, AW, Passions). As I watch the landscape of daytime soaps being replaced with trashy talk shows, I wonder what it is that is not connecting viewers with the program?

Sure, there is the case that women work and don't have time. But there are a great number of viewers that are at home like SAHM's, mat leave women, women home sick, unemployed, seniors etc. So why are they not watching anymore?

This week I am going to explore what is happening and what we can do to save our soaps.

The biggest theme that I will have is that soaps today have lost their connection with the past. In the rush to be modern and current, they have strayed so far from what it is that we LOVED about soaps. We loved soaps when they were connected with the past; when family connections mattered. When the world around us buzzed on fast and furiously around us, we could trust that our soaps would be there with the familiar. Anytime you mess with the familiar to cater to the fickle, you alienate those that actually care.

The first sign I noticed when soaps were moving away from their roots was when they started messing with Intros. Intros are the hook. They are the song you hear when you are in another room that is so familiar, you stop what you are doing to watch. Say what you will, but there is something to be said for the simple intro with the classic music.

Here is an example. Let's look at All My Children. For decades, the intro was this great musical intro with a simple sound. The view was of a family album. You could imagine that a grandma was sitting there looking at pics of her family and that for the next hour, you the viewer would be welcomed into their little world to view their family. Have a look.

Stunning isn't it. Doesn't the music evoke some sort of passion? Now let's flash forward to the latest intro (which is one of dozens of changes they have made since they dropped the above, which goes to show they just can't find the right tone to lure a viewer in).

This epileptic graphic vomit of an intro has pictures falling interspersed with what I assume to be the auditions for America's Next Top Model. WTH? Like what is that? It's in your face, not inviting, non-familiar. There is nothing that makes this intro stand out from the other flashy shows in the same time slot.

I think that those that make soaps should take a long hard look at their Intros and try to figure out what message they are conveying. Warm and inviting goes a long way.

19 June 2010

Confession Time: I am a Farmville Hoarder.

They say that the first step to dealing with a problem is confessing the problem. So hear goes.

I am a Farmville Hoarder.

For those living under a rock, let me explain Farmville. Basically it goes something like this:
  • You create a little farm utopia by plotting little squares of land, planting & harvesting crops (which have a coin, experience point attached), planting & harvesting trees, raising animals.
  • Along the way, you gain coin and experience to level up to by "level" only items and gifts.
  • The social aspect of the game means you send gifts, fertilize your neighbours crops, grab loot they post on their wall.
  • To do any of the actions above, follow this sequence: click, click, click, click, click, click, oh..shiny thing, click click click, back to wall, click, click, click, back to game, click, click, click.
  • It is a complete addictive time waster and just when you get bored, they introduce something new and shiny that you MUST have.
I'm cool and confident enough to admit I have a Farmville addiction. I know they signs. I see the symptoms, made worse by my stagnant unemployment. I see the folly in going to 7-11 to buy special Zynga items (and do so anyways just to get more items). I recognize that since I was laid off, I spend almost all day on Farmville instead of looking for a job. I get that this was made worse by "Mr. M" going to the States for a freaking month vacation (planned prior to relationship and my fault for not updating my passport sooner because I probably was wasting time playing Farmville). And I also see the folly in staying up all hours of the day and night to play this game. I notice my tendencies to talk about Farmville with my real life friends. I am cool with my addiction. * or at least until Mr. M. gets back and my life can revolve around him as is apt in new relationships.

But the most serious problem that is emerging is this: I am becoming a hoarder.

As I discussed, Zynga, the evil creators of Farmville (and it's equally nefarious cousins Mafia Wars etc...) keep coming out with shiny new things that I MUST HAVE. And therein lies the problem: I MUST HAVE every little item that I can get my greedy hands on. And now my farm looks like an episode of A&E's Hoarders.

This is very very bad. My want to have things I don't need on my farm, coupled with my attraction to shiny new stuff means my farm is a complete waste land. In real life, my farm would be condemned. With the shear amount of animals, I'm surprised my virtual horses haven't died from avian flu due to the sheer number of chickens.

And what is made worse is that I want a pretty farm like other people so I spend hours organizing my farm to look like this epic place of grandeur. I get hooked on buildings and spend hours trying to get enough of God knows what to get some exclusive item like the Eiffel Tower. I ask you: have you ever seen a farm with the Eiffel Tower? Nope. Didn't think so. But I must have it. To make an international theme. Have too many cows? Don't purge them, just buy more barns! My farm looks like a big old blahp of junk. The only thing missing are some virtual junkyard cars on in front of one of my 6 or so virtual houses.

Part of this stems from a bitter experience where I accumulated things and then not the day after I deleted them, they came out with something new that required the things I deleted. And I hate shameless wall post begging! *The wall posts are both a blessing (if you are receiving said gift) and a curse (if you hate wall clutter as a giver and your friends hate your page because it's all application related).

This is insanity I tell you! The fact that I am even blogging about this goes to show how deep my addiction is and how ashamed of how I have become such a hoarder! And I look to my left as I type this and I see the two piles of unfolded laundry and the three piles of clothes that need to be sorted for donation or keeping.... good gracious...this hoarding is spilling over.


12 June 2010

Eighties Song Saturday

Hey all! I know it seems that all I have been blogging about lately is eighties songs. And while that is true (based on the last three posts), I do have great blog posts up in my head. And it's not because I have been busy. Au contraire mes amis! In fact, I have had nothing but time. However, my general laziness and procrastination has taken an evil hold on me. I will post this week f'sure!

My 8o's song selection is a personal favourite of mine. My buddy Junior posted today about how difficult it has been for him to find a relationship. I too struggled for many years...the lone single in the group of friends. Thankfully God has granted my wishes and I am now gloriously happy and in a relationship with a wonderful man.

Hmm...I should nick name him something...hmm
. Ok, for this blog we will call him "Mr. M".

Anyways, this is to all those out there searching for love! And Junebabe, this song is dedicated to you.

*PS, I totally dig the choir ensemble at the end...ah..the 80's...good times*.

I Want To Know What Love Is ~ Foreigner.

4 June 2010

Eighties Song Saturday....one week later! LOL.

So I didn't post a song last week because I was on a HOT DATE WITH MY BOYFRIEND. (Jeez that sounds good to say!). So anyways, I found out last week that A-ha is on their retirement tour. RETIREMENT TOUR! Sob! I shall never get a chance to see one of my favourite bands perform one of my favourite songs! *SOB*

The song I am posting is my FAVE song from A-ha and my second fave song ever. It doesn't really make 100% sense, but hey..they are Norwegian and cute so meh! And if there is a way I can get my arse to Manchester England in November to see them and say goodbye to Paul, Magne and Morten.

So here is the song! (the quality of the video is crappy...but the good quality doesn't have an embedding feature).

But I did find a pretty good concert quality video.

Check back tomorrow!