The world has gone mad. Just look at the news. Everyone has lost his mind. So many crazy things have happened that I hardly know where to begin. Violence, injustice, fraud and oppression are all over the paper. When you get past the people who are hurting each other, you find floods, volcanoes and disease doing their worst in all four corners of the globe. (Picture that.) Just beyond that fringe, there's still John Rocker to deal with.
But now the pervasive evil is affecting me. Our local cable provider has summarily dismissed the Bravo channel from its lineup and replaced it with SoapNet. Let me say that another way. Without warning its customers, Cable One has removed a channel dedicated to independent film and the performing arts, and replaced it with a channel that rebroadcasts the day's soap operas in prime time. Over and over and over.
As of today, no more films like Trainspotting and Agnes of God. No more Twin Peaks and Moonlighting. Inside the Actors Studio? Gone. Now, instead, we have the opportunity to watch One Life to Live and All My Children three times a day, at least. It's just the first day, and I suppose it's possible that they run the same four shows back-to-back twenty-four hours a day. That's certainly a worthwhile return on my bloated cable television bill.
If someone wanted to watch General Hospital and Port Charles in prime time, couldn't they invest in a VCR, with a one-time cost of about three months of cable access? I mean, if it's that important.
My God, SoapNet! Doesn't the name itself just sing?
And how did the subscribers learn of this travesty? Did the cable company send out a notice with its monthly billing? If so, I missed it, and so did everyone else I've talked to. The cable guide for March, provided by Cable One, still lists Bravo. The listings in today's newspaper still show the old lineup. We first heard of the switch by way of a letter to the editor in Monday's paper. That was followed with a column by our local observer, Gaye LeBaron, in Tuesday's paper. Wednesday's edition has an editorial complaining about the switch.
Cable One has a good reason, of course. They blame Disney. They tell us that ABC would pull its local affiliate off the cable system if they didn't carry SoapNet. Santa Rosa is a good-sized town, far enough from San Francisco that over-the-air reception is poor at best, so cable is the only option most of us can afford. We are, in other words, a captive audience at the mercy of a virtual monopoly. Customer feedback tends to carry little weight in that kind of situation.
Would ABC really leave our town in the dark? Doubtful, but we'll never know, because the cable company caved without a fight. Viewers did not, of course, get any input on what channel was to be replaced, since the company didn't even see fit to inform us that it was happening at all. The only explanation I've read as to why Bravo was chosen is that Cable One didn't want the religious crowd upset with them if they replaced The Inspirational Network. I guess they didn't want the folks buying sports memorabilia and Pokémon cards to storm their gates either, because they didn't choose one of the half dozen home shopping channels. (Of course, that wasn't going to happen anyway, since those channels provide revenue for the cable company.)
Is this worth ranting about at such length? Yeah, why not? Something that upsets people's lives in such an arbitrary manner deserves to get shouted down. Or at least shouted at. I have a friend who's 75 and semi-retired from show business, and part of her fixed income goes to pay for cable service so that she can watch Bravo. If it's unfair to her and no one else, it's still unfair. Someone in a corporate office somewhere flipped a switch and diminished the quality of her life.
I can go to the polls next Tuesday and cast a ballot against some of the injustices in the world, but there isn't much I can do about this except air my complaint. And cancel my service, of course, another option worth considering.