Paul Casserly 's Opinion

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: Death to interactive TV

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Television blogger Paul Casserly calls for the death of interactive TV.

Ashton Kutcher is the king of Twitter.  Photo / Supplied
Ashton Kutcher is the king of Twitter. Photo / Supplied

Twitter and television have an interesting relationship: Twitter is kind of like those little birds that hang out on the back of hippos and eat ticks and other num nums.

TV, the big ugly lumbering hippo that it is, uses Twitter to generate viewership and increasingly one of the biggest drivers of Twitter traffic is TV.

No problem with that, it's the merging of the two beasts that causes me some concern. In a sense I'm calling for a form of TV/Twitter apartheid. I'm anti-interactive.

'Interactive TV' has been pushed down our gullible gullets for years. It used to be that you sent your name on the back of an envelope and waited for it to be read out on Spot On or some-such or placed in a Perspex barrel that was spun and you won something exciting like a digital calculator.

It seems that TVNZ still have a dreaded Perspex barrel, which they wheeled out a few weeks back on Close Up when Richie McCaw selected a lucky winner of his autobiography, which was written by Greg McGee.

Somehow the sight was depressing and comforting at the same time. There's something weird about printing out all those electronic mail messages onto paper to place in the barrel, but selecting them digitally just wouldn't have the same feel.

It once crossed my mind that the Native Affairs gong for Best Current Affairs show was some sort of token affirmative action award probably made by disgruntled journalists who hate TVNZ and TV3.

Of course that was before I'd really watched the show. Now I not only concur that it's awardable but I reckon they can probably add the 'best current affairs Twitter commentary' to the mantelpiece as well. It's well worth following @Nativeaffairs on Monday nights as the show goes out at 8.30pm.

A recent appearance by Pakeha activist John Ansell really wound up the faithful and provided an entertaining running commentary which I was able to follow while watching Homeland.

John Ansell, the ad-man behind the infamous "Kiwi or Iwi" billboards, was always going to raise hackles in this environment and he didn't disappoint. I may not agree with their politics but rednecks are generally way more entertaining than the merely reasonable.

It's why Fox News is entertaining and why Newstalk ZB is so popular. Thankfully the producers of Native Affairs recognise an opportunity when they see one and allowed Ansell on to wind everyone up with gems like: "Maoridom suffer from a lack of leadership ... all they're getting is a bunch of over grown teenage thugs and extortionists. It's all money and no mana."

The Twitter traffic looked like so much fun that I looked up the show the next day and watched it online.

Somewhat less effective is the actual reading out of tweets on air, and it has to be said, writing about tweets. Like single malt whisky they're best experienced in their pure form. That way you get the full range of opinions and not just the ones selected by the show.

Also I reckon the following: By all means show us relevant hashtags but don't read tweets out. Just get on the with the flipping show and don't make the mistake of thinking you have to do anything in the name of 'interactivity'.

The other bullshit being dressed up as interactivity is the cynical milking of kids and their pocket money by TV talent quests. Why can't they just vote online, or on the back of an envelope for that matter?

Useless as it is, it's worth mentioning that 'interactive TV' was actually invented in New Zealand. The year was 1979. The programme was The Club Show. A crossbow was attached to a camera, and the blindfolded cameraman was guided by a viewer, via phone, to take aim and fire at some targets that included a picture of the show's host, the late Ernie Leonard.

In all these years it stands as the only truly interactive TV experience with any merit (you can watch it here).

Anyway, I'd love some suggestions of TV-related carry-on to be found on Twitter, so please feel free to share your discoveries below:

To get things started here's a couple from me.

For fans of Louie CK I can recommend @FakeLouieEps which farts out gems like: "Louie watches his daughter's school play. Masturbates in the bathroom. Goes to Europe."

I'm also strangely drawn to @DearTVAddicts with its never-ending diatribe of anti telly propaganda: "Watching TV turns you into a consumer, an addict to quick-fixes, to easy visual solutions; turn off the stations of your enemy."

Follow Paul Casserly on Twitter.

Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

Read more by Paul Casserly

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