That’s Excretainment! | TV & Games | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
Support the Free Press.
Facts matter. Truth matters. Journalism matters.
Salt Lake City Weekly has been Utah's source of independent news and in-depth journalism since 1984.
Donate today to ensure the legacy continues.

News » TV & Games

That’s Excretainment!

CBS finally skews younger with Survivor and Big Brother, but what about skewing smarter? Duh!



Credit must go to Comedy Central’s Daily Show With Jon Stewart for perfectly summing up CBS’ inexplicable hit, Survivor: “excretainment.” Turn a video camera on a pile of crap sitting on the floor, put it on TV and millions of idiots will tune in to see what’s going to happen next! No weirdly named “tribes” to keep track of, just a steaming hunk of poo being itself!

Tube Stops
  • Thursday, July 20: Movie: Strip for Action (1996, The Movie Channel, 7 p.m.) Robbers take strippers (Maria Ford, Nikki Fritz) hostage, and force them to entertain at their mountain hideaway. Because the cable was out and the only thing on TV was Survivor and Big Brother, it only seemed fair.
  • Friday, July 21: Iron Chef (Food Network, 8 p.m.) Tonight’s secret ingredient: Gervase! Strip Mall Mini-Marathon (Comedy Central, 11 p.m.-1:30 a.m.) More than four hours of bargain-bin fun with Julie Brown and her enormous, uh, talents … So, what’s happening on those Big Brother web cams right now?
  • Saturday, July 22: Survivor: The Videos (VH1, 8 p.m.) We already went over this: Viacom owns both CBS and VH1, thus explaining shameless cross-promotional corporate synergy such as this.
  • Sunday, July 23: The War Next Door (USA, 7 p.m.) Series debut: An ex-CIA agent moves next door to his evil nemesis in the suburbs—it’s Spy vs. Spy! Manhattan, AZ (USA, 7:30 p.m.) Series debut: An L.A. cop becomes the sheriff of a small town, only to find a new evil nemesis—mayor Chad Everett!
  • Monday, July 24: Days of ’47 Parade (KSL 5, 8 a.m.), July 24th Pre-Parade Special (KTVX 4, 8:30 a.m.), July 24th Parade (KTVX 4, 9 a.m.), The History of the July 24th Parade (KTVX 4, 7 p.m.) and July 24th Primetime Parade Special (KTVX 4, 8 p.m.) Make it stop!
  • Tuesday, July 25: Movie: They Nest (2000, USA, 7 p.m.) Bugs burrowing into brains—which is far more humane than six hours of parade coverage.
  • Wednesday, July 26: The Huntress (USA, 8 p.m.) Series debut: Annette O’Toole returns as a butt-kickin’ bounty hunter. First up, find the guy who produced … Movie: Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back (2000, VH1, 10 p.m.) Make it stop!
  • Next thing you know, CBS actually follows through with that promise of excretainment—it’s called Big Brother, it’s on every night and it gives crap a bad name. South Park’s Mr. Hankey, himself a steaming hunk of poo as well an employee of Comedy Central, was too busy with a new project to be reached for comment.

    Yes, as bad as Survivor is—and it is very, very bad—Big Brother is even worse. Not just because it’s a blatant rip-off of MTV’s The Real World, the previous title-holder of Worst Show Ever, but because it’s on CBS. Even though the numbingly boring Big Brother has slipped and gained and slipped again in the ratings, it and the still-thriving Survivor have finally given CBS (commonly referred to as the Codger Broadcasting System) the all-important 18-35 demographic viewing audience that advertisers love. Up until the Summer of Survivor, CBS’ median viewer age was 53-60; now it’s 41-45.

    What’s so bad about the Oldster Network finally scoring a piece of young demographic tail (to put it in terms understandable to Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson)? Nothing, but know ye this: It’s only going to escalate from here.

    CBS is now owned by media monster Viacom, which puts it under the same corporate roof as UPN, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, TNN (The Nashville Network), Country Music Television, Showtime and The Movie Channel, not to mention Blockbuster Video, Paramount Studios and Simon & Schuster Publishing. Talk about Big Brother. Think this youth-skewing gang is going to settle for 41-45? The peer pressure to drag in the young folks is going to be equal to or greater than that placed upon Michael Jackson’s personal assistants during summer vacation.

    As for CBS allegedly swiping the concept of The Real World for Big Brother, well, it’s all in the Viacom family. “Sure, and it’s a medium where everybody rips everyone else off, so I’m not offended by it, per se,” said MTV president of programming Brian Graden recently, taking a break from sacrificing virginal studio interns to the dark lord Lucifer. “That’s kind of what TV is, unfortunately. You can’t get much closer than putting a bunch of people in a house to live together and, you know, taping them.”

    Big Brother has a couple of features The Real World doesn’t, like the whole deprive-the-players-of-modern-conveniences-so-they-have-to-interact-with-each-other thing, and the thoroughly modern convenience of several uncensored live Internet feeds at so you can watch the scintillating “action” 24 hours a day. You usually have to pay to watch a hidden bathroom-cam on the Net; Viacom is generously giving it away.

    Checking in during the middle of the day for research purposes (the lengths I go to for you people are sooo unappreciated), I happened across two of the BB women in a bedroom. They were yakking away about clothes, Survivor (cross-promotion!), feminine hygiene and how not fully emptying one’s bladder while urinating in a public stall prevents embarrassing “farting.” Even worse, there was an in-depth discussion of polygamy going on outside by the pool. Eeewww.

    Thanks to this exciting unfiltered content, the thrill-a-minute webcast—coincidentally, a joint-venture between CBS-Viacom and another media monolith, America Online—has actually picked up viewers as the TV broadcast has lost them. Stupid people with too much free time and Net access watching other stupid people on a 2-inch RealPlayer video square—now that’s excretainment!

    Sure, CBS came under criticism initially for having “journalist” Joan Chen—from its heretofore unseen Early Show—act as Big Brother’s suck-up host, but aren’t we past that kind of judgmental, corporately unsynergistic thinking by now? This network needs all the dull-witted young viewers/consumers it can get, and it would be downright un-American of us to browbeat them into producing intelligent shows that require audience-repellant stuff like talent, scripts and budgets.

    And, since Viacom’s TNN will soon be the new home of the World Wrestling Federation, CBS will be free to utilize all the cross-promotional possibilities available to it. If Big Brother’s sagging ratings require The Rock to drop by the house in order to boost viewership, then by god CBS can do it with impunity.

    I can see the touching bathroom-cam scene now. Our seated hero bellows his familiar, “Do you smell what The Rock is cookin’?!” catch phrase, and is answered almost immediately by Viacom co-worker Mr. Hankey: “Howdy-ho!”

    OK, now that’s really excretainment!