The “Idea Channel”

INTERNET — The “Idea Channel,” a horrifying YouTube production from PBS which aims to educate and entertain within five lighting-fast minutes, has translated television pedagogy to the internet. Surprise! It’s incredibly bad. The painfully hip mustachio’d host Mike Rugnetta rattles off jargon and drops names in front of a backdrop of trendy old vinyl covers as images of his references flash by so quickly one show in 2012 reportedly triggered a wave of epileptic seizures. This “educational” program, tailored to victims of new media whose attention spans have evaporated, generally glosses over deep topics with a few bad jokes and glib statements. The fact that it seems jammed full of good information makes this insipid programming even more dangerous.

In the episode above, Rugnetta asks the question, “Are Cell Phones Replacing Reality?” Among such intellectual gems as, “Ubiquitous computing is awesome and important,” Rugnetta crosses into dangerous territory by calling French Post-Structuralist Jean Baudrillard a “Grumpy Gus.” After a pitiful thirty-second explanation of Baudrillard’s theory, Rugnetta presses the idea that cell phones might replace reality is “alarmist.” To really fill out his unintentionally ironic performance of precisely what Baudrillard has warned against, Rugnetta coldly delivers the verdict, “Being bored stinks, and also we’re more connected and more knowledgeable.” Thank goodness PBS is paying for the “Idea Channel” and funneling all this great knowledge straight to our cell phone. It would really suck to slog through years of sucky, boring media theory.

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