It started in the video store. I usually browse the new releases, "DagFilm", expecting that I’ll find recent big-screen blockbusters with a sprinkling of European art-house fare. Instead, I find a few thrillers, a low shelf of cartoons, and a large rack of horror films. I would estimate that fully half of the current fare are standard teen-slasher films (Tourista is a current favorite, just in time for vacation season). It’s a major genre of the racks in the back as well. The "Comedy" selection skews heavily towards the "American Pie" genre, while the Action and Science Fiction sections crowd out Dramas and Local Films.
I’ve been trying to find a wider variety of current releases, or of older classic films, but no success. So far, I’ve had to rent a few and rip them to my hard drive while I’m in the US.
Similar strangeness dominates the local cable programming on UPC. English-language programs include old and new bits of pop-America: Vegas, Magnum PI, CSI, Law and Order, but few other shows. Dr. Phil and Oprah pop up from time to time, along with Jay Leno or Conan. I’ll skip past the Fashion Channel and the weekly reruns of "How the West Was Won" on TCM. But it’s an odd sampling of distant video culture.
Then there’s the movie channels. While Film 1 will occasionally show a fresh release or a classic, more often… not. Tonight features Premonition (Depressed housewife learns her husband was killed in a car accident the day previously, awakens the next morning to find him alive and well at home, and then awakens the next day after to a world in which he is still dead), Death of a President (Years after the assassination of President George W. Bush in Chicago, an investigative documentary examines that as-yet-unsolved crime), Timboektoe (A Dutch coming-of-age drama), and The Hills Have Eyes II (A group of National Guard trainees find themselves battling against a vicious group of mutants on their last day of training in the desert.)
It’s started to make E! look appealing (Living Lohan, E! News, Red Carpet Retro, and Girls of the Mansion).
The On Demand movies include lots of films I would classify as ‘Guilty Pleasures": Tom Cruise in Cocktail (When he pours, he reigns), Patrick Swayze’s Road House (The dancing’s over. Now it gets dirty), Stallone’s Rambo (Heroes never die…. They just reload), then Bronson’s Death Wish, Star Trek 5 and 6 (The worst of the series), Jurassic Park 3 (ditto), Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Saturday Night Fever (thank goodness not the sequel Staying Alive)…it goes on and on…
I began to suspect a trend.
Suspicion was confirmed when I discovered the On-Demand TV programs last week. The first two full seasons of Desperate Housewives, lots of Criminal Intent, and much of Grey’s Anatomy. Little else.
One might argue that the US media companies are sending their bottom-shelf titles to the Netherlands. Or, one might suspect that Dutch taste tends towards…well…a steady diet of guilty pleasures?
And that’s all right, with popcorn, on a Friday night, late. But not all day, every day…
‘and the worst part is, now I’ve gotten sucked into Desperate Housewives (The guilty pleasure returns…)