Sometimes when you think of the opportunities for the sharing of information and the dissemination of knowledge that are being neglected and compare it to what's normally on offer through today's mass media, it's hard not to be appalled at the waste of technology and resources. Humans have created so much that is beautiful and awe-inspiring in the past few thousand years, yet the chances of seeing any of it outside the confines of educational programming are minimal. Instead of using the media as a means of celebrating our genius and inspiring people with examples of our potential for greatness, its main use appears to be as a means of advertisement. What else can we assume when keeping sponsors happy with high ratings is apparently the major factor in deciding what is aired or isn't aired?
Even more demoralizing is how the majority of the shows created which might make a difference and expose people to some of the marvels of creation are as likely to alienate viewers as enthrall them. For instead of dispelling the beliefs that intelligence and appreciation of the arts are not only suspect but the preserve of an elite segment of society, they end up perpetuating both lies. Either the material is presented in such a reverential manner the viewers can't help be intimidated or believe it has nothing to say to them or their lives, or it comes across as being beyond their abilities to understand.
British television has rightfully garnered a far better reputation for presenting intelligent programming than its American counterpart. However, that doesn't mean they aren't subject to falling into some of the same traps as their counterparts across the Atlantic when it comes to dealing with the arts. That was brought home to me again while watching the new three-disc DVD package Six Centuries Of Verse being released on April 27, 2010 by Acorn Media through its Athena label. Originally broadcast by Thames television in 1985, airing on public television in North America in the 1990s, the 16 episodes trace the history of English language poetry from Beowulf to the 1980s. Each of the episodes deals with a specific period in history, the poets and the style of poetry associated with it.