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  1. #1
    Senior Member Viridian's Avatar
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    Default Does the "Lowest Common Denominator" exist?

    We hear about it all the time. "This news program" or "that reality show" was marketed toward the Lowest Common Denominator. The low-attention-span, mindless, self-narcotizing, gullible, gratification-seeking citizens that absorb their info-tainment like sponges, oblivious or apathetic about how uneducated they are. *swirls wineglass*

    But... Do they really exist? Is there really a huge mass of frivolous apes - or whatever snarky moniker you might want to apply to them - that drives TV executives or movie studios to lower their standards and avoid controversy and subversion of expectations? Or is it an image present only on the minds of higher-ups who underestimate the intelligence of their viewership? Brazilian newscaster William Bonner compared the average viewer of his news program with Homer Simpson (no joke!).

    Are there thousands of Homers among us? Who are they? Where are they? Are they truly objectively inferior in intelligence - or even inferior, period? How do you know when you are one? And, in that case, do you have the duty - or even the capacity - to become educated?

    Will the real Homer Simpson stand up?

    (This thread brought to you by Viridian Feels Confused About Academia Inc.)
    Tentative typing: ISFJ 6w5 or 9w1 (Sp/S[?]).

  2. #2
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    being the type who is easily amused by most things, I probably fall into one of the lower common denominators camp... gotta love pawn stars, storage wars, parking wars and any food network competition that ever has existed... not to mention the try out rounds for american idol I always want to slap the idiots on things like the real world, jersey shore and big brother- they are just so DRAMATIC about everything!

    I also always enjoyed beer and bacon cheeseburgers, love baseball, have attended a few indy car races and actually cared who won and am mesmerized by the paternity tests on maury
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  3. #3
    Ginkgo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    We hear about it all the time. "This news program" or "that reality show" was marketed toward the Lowest Common Denominator. The low-attention-span, mindless, self-narcotizing, gullible, gratification-seeking citizens that absorb their info-tainment like sponges, oblivious or apathetic about how uneducated they are. *swirls wineglass*

    But... Do they really exist? Is there really a huge mass of frivolous apes - or whatever snarky moniker you might want to apply to them - that drives TV executives or movie studios to lower their standards and avoid controversy and subversion of expectations? Or is it an image present only on the minds of higher-ups who underestimate the intelligence of their viewership? Brazilian newscaster William Bonner compared the average viewer of his news program with Homer Simpson (no joke!).

    Are there thousands of Homers among us? Who are they? Where are they? Are they truly objectively inferior in intelligence - or even inferior, period? How do you know when you are one? And, in that case, do you have the duty - or even the capacity - to become educated?

    Will the real Homer Simpson stand up?

    (This thread brought to you by Viridian Feels Confused About Academia Inc.)
    The real Lowest Common Denominator is Television in general. Not to imply that television is detestable, but that it is more common to own a television than it is to watch a "lowest common denominator" program. I bet we all have little homers inside of us confusing our belly buttons for donuts and our brains for cotton candy. Mmm...

  4. #4
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Yes, there are sheep. Sheep eat what they are fed. So if shepherds can make and save money by feeding them cheap food, then, in a capitalist economy, they will. But sheep can be trained to eat all kinds of foods, even those considered expensive.

  5. #5

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    This is a bit like that book The Middle Mind and the debates it sparked off, the premise that low quality or unchallenging and mind numbing TV is what the majority really wants is possibly just an anti-democratic hating on the masses.

    On the other hand I do think that there's formulas employed by producers or suppliers to try and minimise costs and maximise returns and sometimes when that's really obvious its peevish.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Viridian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    But sheep can be trained to eat all kinds of foods, even those considered expensive.
    Mmmhhh, could you please elaborate on this sentence?
    Tentative typing: ISFJ 6w5 or 9w1 (Sp/S[?]).

  7. #7
    Sniffles
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    Tv is often compared to the old bread and circuses of ancient Rome.

  8. #8
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    lol.. some of you people are too much.

    i don't like reality tv either, but it isn't my business what other people watch. i think my own life is enough to handle, at the end of the day. of the people i know who do enjoy some of these shows, i wouldn't say they're apes. it's mostly late 20s/30 something women (mostly married with kids) who are at home often and just find some of it funny. some of them are smarter than me too. then again, maybe i'm the ape.

  9. #9
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    This is a bit like that book The Middle Mind and the debates it sparked off, the premise that low quality or unchallenging and mind numbing TV is what the majority really wants is possibly just an anti-democratic hating on the masses.

    On the other hand I do think that there's formulas employed by producers or suppliers to try and minimise costs and maximise returns and sometimes when that's really obvious its peevish.
    It might be more of a greatest common factor. Each person, individually, might prefer something different, something better, something . . . else. Programming must attract a large audience to make money, however, which means it must appeal to large groups of people. Being overspecialized, or having content rich in a particular area, might have too narrow an appeal. Producers then make something most people are willing to watch, though it may be no one's first choice.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  10. #10
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    Mmmhhh, could you please elaborate on this sentence?
    If there were no worthless programs, people would watch better ones. They do what they do because they have learned it over time, but they could just as well have learned other watching patterns to which other programs would be better suited. There is simply no necessity to any of the programs now running.

    I believe it is possible to have multi-layered productions that can be enjoyed on different levels, like a Mozart piece. Even good lowbrow shows are possible.

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