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Time to change Carnival TV

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I am going to borrow the headline from Peter Ray blood’s excellent review of this year’s Carnival last Friday, “Time to Change the Change” not only because I agree with his criticisms but because I am appalled at the low standard of Carnival shows on TV, which he did not touch on. I feel the weight of columnist responsibility for one of the few times in the years I have written for the Guardian and I don’t want my grandchildren asking, “Why didn’t you write something, Grandpa?”

Despite this, I think most older viewers are satisfied with what is put on, as long as they see something, as in so much in T&T the lowest common denominator being the guiding principle.

I recommend two things. First commentators over the age of 50 must be retired. Second, please, originality! Doing the first might ensure the second.

Because of the size of the Savannah stage, it is almost impossible to produce anything interesting for a television audience. Very little can be done to make PanTrinbago change their format for Pan finals or the National Carnival Commission Dimanche Gras. Similarly, the Parade of Bands cannot be altered much. But there are things that can be done and one would expect that in the interest of art and professional satisfaction that they would be done.

Nothing that I am saying is new. There have been innumerable letters to the newspapers in the past making these same points and Gayelle the station, did try to do many of them. Why Gayelle failed is for another article but it was a damming shame that sponsorship was not more forthcoming from the private sector.

It is disheartening to see the same colourless commentators year after year. This is not radio, it is a visual medium and while no one wants to go the way of Fox and CNN with their plaster men and blonde dollies, surely we can do better than haggard faces and jaded expressions. Is the money or exposure worth it?

We need younger people with personality who have done their research so that they can comment enthusiastically and intelligibly. People who are not afraid to call a spade a spade and make those deadened presentations lively with discussion and jokes. None of the present group of presenters seems to know or care to know about the history of pan, what’s happening at present, the geography, the literature or music of pan, calypso or mas. Some of them have been making the same idiotic comments year after year, “Merry Monarch!” “Still the greatest show on earth!”

Pan presenters who do not know the home address of a band? Dimanche Gras presenters who cannot describe the material a costume is made of? Parade of Band presenters who fail to introduce bands and seem to believe that because the cameras are focused on the stage, they can get by with inane comments about the “hills,” the “sun hot” and the killer, “all ah we is one!”

Can we have some originality from the producers? Other than pointing the camera at a stage of wining people? Can we vary the camera views? Use drone shots? Cameras roaming the streets? Interviewing people? Short segments of interest prepared ahead of time and broadcast during the shows? Interviews with local personalities? UWI historians and anthropologists? Wire benders? Minshall? Rudder? Anthony? Pretender? Job? The moko jumbie crew? Blue devils?

What happens up Paramin on Monday night? Whatever happened to night mas? Can we please have live updates from San Fernando, Scarborough, Chaguanas, Curepe, arrivals at Piarco? How do airplane flight crews manage? Nurses? Doctors? The families of police and firemen? There are people who do not participate in Carnival? Why? What happens at the beaches on Carnival Monday and Tuesday?

Think outside the box! There are wonderful ideas out there. Open up the newspapers and radio and TV to the youngsters and see where we reach.


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