Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wide Screen Stretch Marks

I am sure it will all be okay once every channel broadcasts in HD.

But I can't help feeling like there's a strain of visual moronism at work when we see so many folks watching narrow-screen shows stretched out wide to fill the pixels of wide-screen televisions. Maybe it's the insufferable aesthete in me, but can anyone tell me why it isn't cause for complaint when, say, the local bar shows you a ballgame where the item in question is no longer a ball, but a weird ovoid? And where everyone looks squatter and fatter? I thought we were the nation of "thinner is better", so it makes even less sense than otherwise. Or maybe people secretly feel they'd rather see TV stars fatter, since it makes them feel less corpulent themselves?

It's unaccountable. One school of thought is that many viewers don't notice. Another is that they feel like they'd be wasting screen space by not stretching a narrow show to fill the wide screen.

I am sure this ought to be far, far down the list of things that get under one's collar these days, or maybe its because of these days that I find myself bothered more by small signs of mediocrity or capitulation.

In either case, I applaud the arrival of universal HD--only partly because it's kind of stunning in and of itself. It's also a rescue from incipient visual moronism.