Thursday, October 07, 2004

What's Up with Discovery Channel?

I came home from a hard night's work at the bowling alley, poured myself a glass of cranberry juice, had a smoke and turned on the TV. There's over a hundred channels, but no more than six or seven will be playing English content at any given time. Usually most of them will be junk but at the very least Discovery channel can be trusted to have an interesting half hour about cheetahs or grizzlies having cubs or people living in suspended tree cities in Costa Rica.

But tonight it seemed a little different.

Tonight there was an hour long special on U.S. Naval sea power. It was shot like a nature show of some kind. There was a section on a nuclear submarine, and then on to the power of the John C. Stennis, and it's personal airforce, and then it seguayed to the stealth and destruction capabilities of the a more compact sub, and to the destroyers which protected those carriers and then on to a stealth boat that couldn't be detected by radar. It went from this impressive and daunting arsenal to computer graphics of a future stealth battleship than was still on the table. It was absolutely awesome.

And it was very entertaining in a strange and threatening sort of way; like watching a fire or the aftermath of a highway collision. It had very high production values and interviews with young (and older) sailors, combining breathtaking shots with a gentle voiceover and subtle, but triumphant background music.

It was incredibly remniscient of a video game when they looked at the tracking systems and missiles and torpedoes; at the take off and landings on an impossible 120 meter long runway. It was exactly like a video game. It even had different levels. There was level one, taking off from the carrier, level two landing, and level three landing at night. If you miss the first landing you still get two more chances. (The equivalent of extra lives in the arcade.) If you miss your third chance you have to go up and be re-fueled in miair by the re-fueling aircraft. (This would be the equivalent of firing another couple of quarters in the slot before the ten second count.) Some of the radar screens and landing assist screens were exactly the same as arcade games that I played as a kid. This was of course no accident.

This program was made for two reasons. One was to show everybody how indestructible and mighty their naval power is; a barely veiled threat aimed at any who deign to question their purest of motives. The other, perhaps more important one these days was to woo as many young American men and women, boys and girls aboard as it could. It was a recruiting infomercial. It was the latest generation of the,"Be all that you can be" commercial spots I saw when I was a kid.

Look, I've already had to stop watching Hollywood feature films and the American Network's "news" programs. Could someone please ask George Bush if, at the very least, I could get my f---ing nature shows back?

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