#TheEnglishCorner by l'Agenda Culturel

with AGENDA CULTUREL - 2016-06-02
As you know, I am a foreigner living in Lebanon and I write about what I see. Perhaps my comments will upset some people, but I feel it is time to comment on the local TV programs. Today, I want to direct your attention to the country’s local TV stations. Lately we are seeing local programs that disrespect the viewer’s intelligence under the guise of “entertainment”.

We see competing comedy shows whose idea of funny is to constantly mock local politicians or come up with off-colored jokes. They are neither funny nor entertaining. They are just plain vulgar.

We see trivial shows with panel of socialites and wannabes who comment on superficial matters. Their thoughts and the topics are irrelevant.

We find copies of the late night shows from America, with a band, and an MC a la Jay Leno. Unfortunately, having no script or purpose, they end up relying solely on empty laughter or mocking at the situation in the country. False laughter is not funny. To criticize is a no brainer, we all can do it. Please give us something worth watching. They seem to forget that they are being watched by the whole country, not just the poor youngsters they round up in their studio and told to clap or laugh in unison.

In one particular episode, they mocked a man for going back to school and getting his high school degree. People through social media were angry. The news picked up on their faux pas. Still, there was never an apology. Perhaps they thought the viewers would soon forget. If they cannot respect the viewers and cannot identify with them, their program will soon disappear. Why do I point out this TV show? It is because the actors and musicians are talented and they are capable of turning the show around. They can transform it in to a real good show.

On the other hand, there is a new program that aired recently, which comments on the lives of local and Hollywood celebrities. The vulgar duo running the show look like they stepped out of a down-trodden bar after closing hours. As if this was not bad enough, practically every word from their mouth was filled with profanity. This “show” has no business on TV. It needs to be shut down. I wonder who came up with this program. What on earth were they thinking? Most of the local TV stations belong to political personalities or parties. Is this the kind of programming they want to be associated with? Who controls what is aired on TV these days? Wake up!

One thing is freedom of expression and another allowing into our living rooms vulgar people with show of such poor taste, filled with offensive language. It gives that particular TV station a bad image. It gives the viewers an erroneous impression of what Lebanon is all about. More importantly, it is an all-out insult for the Lebanese audiences. Please do us all a favor and shut this program down.
We all know it is not easy to create a good TV show. It takes work, money, and a team of qualified and dedicated personnel. You have talent. Some of the people in these shows are really good, but they can even better. Other shows, the vulgar ones, should be weeded out.

What is missing?

Local TV programs cannot just rely on talented actors to run a show; they need the back-up of competent writers and directors to produce a successful program. All programs must have a consistent format with contents that can entertain, educate, or enlighten others. They need to understand the audience, anticipate their reactions, and respect them.

Respect their intelligence; you can’t fool them with any cheap skit.

Respect the tone and language you use. Curse words for ratings are unacceptable and it will always backfire on you. 

Respect the powerful media you have the privilege of using. Just because you have a program doesn’t mean you can waste the audiences’ time with a mediocre show and consider it a success.

Lebanon has many excellent professors and leaders in every field: art, film, banking, literature, history, medicine, etc. Unfortunately, local TV is not tapping into this pool of talented people. Their help could make a huge difference. Use them to create new programs that fill minds with uplifting information rather than salacious gossip. Create programs on social issues like safe driving, recycling, or volunteering. Voice the issues that affect us, not just point and criticize, but offer solutions as well. Present programs on our local history and the people who made an impact on the past. Introduce us to all the Lebanese, young and old around the world today, that are making a difference.

If they dead set on copying American programs, why not copy the best programs rather than the superficial ones? Make it the best copy ever. Better yet, produce your own programs and TV shows. Lebanese have the creativity and imagination to come up with original programs on their own. Programs that can be someday be launched to other countries.

Study your audience, get their feedback, and produce shows that reflect what they feel is entertaining and informative.

Local television is a powerful tool. The wise use of television can be a means to achieve the positive change we all want for this country. It can help us unite by being more tolerant of each other. It can create public awareness and promote social good. They have wasted so much time and talent on empty shows. It is time to improvement. Clean up what goes on the air. We are ready for responsible local TV programming.