Video & Television

Controversy over Dramatic Promotion for Community Media Channel

This well made promotion has been the subject of some interesting discussions on the list serve for the Alliance for Community Media in the US. It has been accused of falsely creating drama and competition where dedicated patience is needed. Yes it is dramatic. But city council meetings can be very dramatic and peoples' real lives are often effected by the decisions made there. I think that what offends some of the access "purists" is that it is using very high production values: good camera work, nice cuts, skillful music edits and overall care and precision to what is often a "one shot" boring coverage of long meetings. I hope this inspires the local video people to work hard to capture the very real drama that often occurs. The faces of people thinking and strategizing can be very interesting. All too often the people who "cover" local meetings are just "doing a job"-- the picture is in focus and framed and that is it. But with good close-ups, with good switching, with reaction shots and listening and following the action, even discussions of the sewage treatment plant can be what they sometimes are-- making a real difference in the quality and ultimate future costs of our lives. The drama is there! There is nothing "wrong" with learning to see it and share it with the community!
DeeDee Halleck
Deep Dish TV
Anthony Riddle
Man, I might have to watch THAT council meeting. Can I get it online? Whatever DID happen with that appropriation? Don’t leave me hangin’!
Anthony Riddle
Associate Director of Free Speech Services
BRIC Brooklyn
I have mixed feelings about this spot. I certainly want our good work across this nation, in Canada and elsewhere to gain notice, to gain stature, to attract more participation in viewership (the point of this spot) and participation, to reach youth who have all kinds of media available to them 24-7.

At the same time, I don't like the drama aspect of the government meeting. We already have too much false drama. So much of commercial television is about creating drama where there is none, to become some exciting surrogate life for the viewer, to addict the viewer to the notion that all of life is a competition. We have competitions and drama on everything, baking cakes and weight loss (symbiotic?), housewives, "survivors" in the most arranged of situations, trading spouses--anything to try to generate enough excitement to entice people from yesterday's false drama. It's BS--"reality" shows often have half the scripting costs of honesty fiction programs--but it obviously works.

I think the alternative that we have is honesty. There was little drama at our 2:25:35 City Council last night (I just trimmed the file of recesses so I know the length) but there was important work including highly visible, high community participation work on downtown parking. There was none of the false drama that fills so many channels, and in my opinion this phony drama has moved the humor of our day primarily to sarcasm in reaction. I will admit to liking such humor from Simpsons to Family Guy to Big Bang, so that's not my point. My point is that a lot of people are disgusted by the sham stuff that surrounds us and as a result like honesty.

I think our greatest challenge is to help build community with honesty, to engage people in real issues, to elevate the importance of the routine community activities that often lack any sort of drama while making the community a better place to live. Education, the arts, even much of the work in justice has little aspect of drama. It's noble work, it's hard work, it's the work of heroes. Just had to say this. Alan

Alan Bushong
CCTV Executive Director
Salem, Oregon 97301
Thanks for your comment. I agree with you for the most part.

Drama, however, doesn't have to mean conflict or simplicity. I find collaborative problem-solving a constantly thrilling and engaging enterprise. In that regard I saw this promo as a step toward illustrating that, much like the wonderfully engaging barn-raising scene in Peter Weir's "Witness" - .
~ Rob McCausland
Thanks Rob, CBC has a story about them and the viral response to the trailer.
Daniell Krawczyk - Portable Uplink Solutions
Barbara Popovic
I think the spot has as much substance in relation to the meetings as most
commercials do in relation to the products they promote.
CANTV Chicago
Michael Eisenmenger
I think these tongue in cheek promotions can work great - they attract some attention in a harmless, humorless fashion. Nobody is going to tune in for a four hour council meeting because of this spot - but they will remember that the council meetings are regularly aired on the channel (which is the whole point). I doubt anyone would mistake the intentions of the Whitehorse piece as serious or disrespectful - just good fun (and we all know many council's could use a sense of humor). We have some council's that would likely enjoy a promotion such as this, others would cringe (the ones who need to lighten up most). We may look into some light-hearted variations on this theme.

A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.
Marin County Community Media