Milch Bashes ‘Infantilizing’ Effect of TV

Apr 25, 2006  •  Post A Comment

“Deadwood” creator David Milch bashed the “infantilizing” effect of television, pinned blame for the Iraq quagmire on the media and decried new media as a potentially soulless gimmick when he spoke at the Museum of Television & Radio industry forum luncheon on Tuesday.

In a room filled with television agents, producers and press, Mr. Milch began by noting that the industry’s newfound preoccupation with mobile and broadband delivery was misguided if the technology is given priority over the quality of the content.

“With the fascination on what is new or novel, there is a corollary development-a stale reverence begins to develop for the technology rather than the content,” the former Yale professor said.

Mr. Milch then described the war in Iraq as the result of a media culture where the tragedy of 9/11 created a traumatizing stimulus that promoted the Bush administration to provide the appropriate televised war “miniseries” as a cathartic response.

The miniseries, as Mr. Milch saw it, was supposed to show U.S. troops taking effective action in Iraq and conclude with the fall of Saddam Hussein. But when the war dragged into “reruns,” viewers turned against “the program.”

“We thought this show was over … let’s put something new on,” Mr. Milch described the viewer response. “We have been made infants in our expectations. … Nobody’s up in arms about Guantanamo Bay because Guantanamo is not on TV. … Most of our [political] issues are issues of entertainment.”

Mr. Milch concluded by returning to the subject of new media revenue streams, and borrowing a title from a “Deadwood” episode, he said, “Revenue is just a lie agreed upon,” and that without a spiritual or hope-filled foundation, the capitalist priorities of the television industry are “as radical a perspective” as that of Islamic terrorists.

“Without some appreciative understanding of what it is to communicate … without believing in something [more than revenue], we are just as fundamentalist, just as vapid, as those guys in the caves,” he said.