I’ve just spent two days trying to write my next Boxcutters thing on why I think the Brownlow Medal is not only Football’s Night of Nights, but Television’s Night of Nights. I wrote a bunch of funny stuff about dumb blokes, cleavage and relentless montages but I couldn’t nail it.
Then late at night, well after they’d cleaned up Lateline Business set, the bigger idea thudded into my mind. The real reason I love the Brownlow is that it’s boring. Then I thought back to other monumentally boring things on TV, and realised that the more producers start messing around with their perfectly working show to make it less boring, the more the show fails.
Whether it’s the Oscars or the Logies, every awards show tries really hard not to be boring. But the very reason they hold an awards ceremony, that is, to justify lucky though irrelevant people’s lives, killing that boredom is almost impossible. Not even Baz Luhrmann, with a cast of 300 monkeys shooting firecrackers out of their arses to the tune of Hello Dolly, could do it. But we’re into the stuff they award show’s rewarding, whether it’s sports, movies or the Air Conditioning Industry’s Night of Nights, the Captain Caveman in us wants to know who will win.
At the Brownlow Medal we’re transfixed to the monotone of the AFL boss reading the votes. Because that’s all he does – after announcing that the show is “an officially sanctioned meeting of the AFL”- he just reads the votes. This is just like the incredibly long bit during the Eurovision Song Contest when all the countries read their votes. But Eurovision has 25 representatives reading for a minute or two. The Brownlow just has one balding bloke, reading the names of vote winners in each of the season’s 194 games.
But to an obsessed football fan stricken with Finals Fever, this is all we want. We think back to Round 17 and wonder how Chris Judd could get votes in a losing side. This is very important to us.
Notice all the things we really hate about The Brownlow? The hideously sexist “This-is-really-the-girls’-Grand-Final” Blue Carpet bullshit. Voice over guys reciting ridiculous chest beating amateurish bush poetry over endless super-slo-mo action montages. These are things the producers reckon will break the supposed boredom of a balding man reading votes. But they don’t get it. These (marketing-tards call them..) “features” are just tedious. And yes, there is a difference.
Let’s look at Big Brother. I think it was the first series that had a daily up late show where the cameras would just sit in on a bedroom for hours into the early morning. If you watched hard and long enough, you could be lucky or unlucky to catch a hellish cat fight or a housemate having a toss under the covers. But most of the time, the household was asleep. Things happened. Very slowly.
This was genius to the power of Eno. Turning on the TV to see that nothing’s happening on TV. Man…dude….professor…that’s art. But once Mike Goldman came in with his cynical 1800 number word games and tooth-brain talkback interaction to make it less boring, the show got tedious and died. The less said about Hot Dogs, the better.
What I’m probably trying to ask people making these things on TV is, please let your story breathe. There’s no need to chuck brainless shit in just because you think you’re losing your audience. With the new ways we’re watching TV now, as talked a lot about in the podcast lately, you’re already losing your audience to a growing number of shiny lounge room distractions. Be confident. You’ll hold our attention if the story’s strong. It’s okay, real footy fans are losing their minds, waiting for round 22’s votes. Maybe think of making captivating TV as slow cooking. Is there anything better than when the meat falls off the bone?
Cue monkey firecracker montage.