66 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 40 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
Sci Tech    H4'ed 1/10/14

The History Channel Now Does an Enormous Disservice to its Viewers

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   6 comments

From the mid-1990's to the late-2000's, there was a terrific thing on basic cable called The History Channel.   A rich oasis in a dismal wasteland, it offered gritty, fact-filled documentaries on all things historical, including piracy, the Old West, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, Nazi Germany, and so on.   From its beginnings, The History Channel had its critics; they complained that its programming was heavily skewed towards middle-aged men, and that it was obsessed with Adolf Hitler.   Still, during this brief time period, everyone had to agree that The History Channel was truly educational, and was one of television's best offerings.

That was then; this is now.   Arguably, The History Channel is currently one of the worst networks on American television.   Officially called "History" now, the network seems to have completely forgotten about its important original mission:   to educate viewers.   The new channel, to boost profits and to trim production costs, now broadcasts a depressing, steady stream of reality-TV programs.   It's also wading deeply into outright pseudoscience.   To make matters even worse, its current format is proving to be immensely profitable, and it looks clear that its programming is going to degenerate even further.   That is tragic.

Let's start with the reality-TV programs.   A few years ago, History learned what The Big Three Networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) have known for decades:   that reality-TV programs can be tremendous money-makers.   Thus, History is currently littered with such shows:   Pawn Stars, American Restoration, American Pickers, Ax Men, Ice Road Truckers, etc.   As far as reality-TV programs go, they're relatively inoffensive.   At least they don't feature debauched fading celebrities.   Generally, they are about real people (such as pawnbrokers  and lumberjacks) doing real things (such as haggling and arguing at their workplaces).   Still, they have virtually nothing to do with actual history.   Some defenders feebly insist that the "antiquing" shows--such as Pawn Stars and American Pickers--are relevant to history:   after all, they deal with antiques.   However, it's a failed defense.   On these programs, history takes a backseat.   Their major draws stem from the seemingly endless haggling over prices.   They really don't teach anyone about actual history.   Of course, no one can defend programs like Ax Men and Ice Road Truckers, even if they are likable ones.   They have nothing to do with history at all.   They may as well be on CBS, NBC, or TLC.  

These reality-TV shows on History are disappointing.   Far worse is History's ever-growing reliance on so-called "educational" series that actually peddle pseudoscience.   The biggest offender here is Ancient Aliens, which is shown on the network ad nauseam.   Ancient Aliens premiered on History in early 2010.   It was based on the premise that, long ago, aliens journeyed to Earth to teach prehistoric humans about civilization.   Thus, aliens helped human beings to build the Pyramids and Stonehenge.   At present, it has expanded on its original theme and pushes all sorts of paranormal nonsense:   that people contain alien DNA; that the angels described in the Bible were actually spacemen; that crystals possess vast healing (and destructive) powers; that people and dinosaurs co-existed; and so on.   This program might very well be the most ridiculous series ever brought to television, and yet it is becoming a cultural phenomenon.   Millions of people take it seriously, largely because it has the general appearance of a "science" program, and because it appears on an "educational" channel.   Ironically, this "educational" series actually "dumbs down" the typical viewer. 

Many people might say:   "So what?   Television has always blended together entertainment and education."   That may be true--but only to a point.   Such people often bring up In Search Of..., Leonard Nimoy's beloved old science program that also drifted into the paranormal frequently.   No, American civilization didn't deteriorate because of Nimoy's old program, but there are numerous differences between it and Ancient Aliens.   Nimoy's series made sure that it presented the viewpoints of legitimate researchers who rejected these far-out hypotheses.   In sharp contrast, Ancient Aliens presents the paranormal as the Gospel Truth. It even hints that stuffy, elitist scientists are trying to conceal "the truth" from average persons, for whatever bizarre reason or reasons.   Thus, History is presenting programming that actively misleads viewers, and that is fraud.

Probably, the biggest victims of the ongoing fraud are children.   Most adults know that Ancient Aliens presents hokum, but children generally aren't that discriminating.   When they stumble upon a program on "educational TV," it is likely that they will swallow its contents hook, line, and sinker:   it's "educational TV," after all.   They're not learning, though.   Instead, they are bombarded with misinformation.   The History Channel is making our children less informed, and it seems to have no problem with that just as long as the profits keep rolling in.                  

Valuable 3   Must Read 2   Funny 2  
Rate It | View Ratings

Jonathan Maxwell Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Jonathan Maxwell is a professional writer. He holds an MA in English from Jacksonville State University in Alabama and a BA in English from Berry College in Rome, Georgia. He is the author of two books. His first one, Murderous Intellectuals: (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

On the Dark Side: An Uneasy Look at Rotten.com

The History Channel Now Does an Enormous Disservice to its Viewers

Death of Impoverished Pennsylvania Professor Illustrates Plight of Adjuncts

Despite Scandal, Chris Christie Can Still Become President in 2016

Meet Conservapedia, a Right Wing Encyclopedia at War with the Truth

Mark Herring Likely to Win Virginia's A.G. Race: Takeaways for the Republicans from the 2013 Elections

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend