The DOG and #puppyshow 

4 November 2013

A few years back, I wrote about how Americans contributed the Digital-Onscreen-Graphic (DOG) to the hodgepodge of television identity. I discussed how just having the network logo is not enough; how, in the modern era, you have to be reminded of what show you’re watching, as well as what show is up next and what you should be watching three weeks from now.

We’re now witnessing a further evolution of this televisual eyesore, this Paintboxed and Photoshopped bombing of your senses. It’s called the hashtag, and if any of you are social-media savvy, you already know all about these puppies.

Usually paired alongside the DOG, a hashtag is a social media tool used to gauge, in simple terms, what’s going ‘viral,’ what topics are popular at any given moment anywhere in the world. You see a hashtag on the programme you’re watching, and should you feel the need to talk on Twitter or fashion a Facebook post about it, you add the hashtag to your post, complete with that # symbol.

I get why they’re showing up – it’s instant ratings; the networks can gauge popularity of their programmes without having to wait for the official numbers from the ratings services to tally up days later.

I personally don’t have a problem with seeing a hashtag on screen. It does tend to help if I channel surf and stop on something unfamiliar – ‘Oh, I heard about this show, and now I know exactly what it looks like.’ That’s assuming the hashtag is just the name of the programme, which is more or less the standard practice.

What I am noticing – and what I hope is not going to become standard – is seeing multiple hashtags on the same show, in some instances a different hashtag for each storyline or even each scene in the episode.

For instance, one episode from a certain series I won’t mention about a glee club that airs on a network I don’t want to mention called Fox (oops), featured six different hashtags within the hour. These hashtags were long, defeating the purpose of quick microblogs like Twitter, annoying, because each new one faded on-screen mere moments after the previous one faded out – leading to distraction, and most importantly contributed another piece of clutter to the TV screen landscape.

Stick to the show’s name if you have to hashtag at all and leave it be at that.


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