While all of TubaTV’s pet peeves make our collective blood boil, #5 is doubly peevey: firstly, The Meaningful Montage constitutes some seriously vile pop culture demagogy. It’s like the aural equivalent of the soap opera close-up: in the event that some half-dead member of the audience isn’t certain how to feel about a given story line, the Meaningful Montage packages the appropriate sentiment into an easy-to-digest caplet of radio friendly, unit shifting sound and vision. Worse still than its status as a marketing ploy, the Meaningful Montage is essentially a less ambitious/more plebeian cousin to The Magnolia Moment, finally amounting to a spiritless gesture entirely bereft of rhetorical force.
Rupert Murdoch’s army of simpletons over at Fox/FX have honed the device to its most utilitarian: Don Draper must have convinced them that the final minutes of any given serial drama can be made both poignant and relevant for the “coveted 18-49 demographic” by the simple inclusion of a slow-motion montage set to some “edgy” New(ish) (White) Music. Got a character moving to another state and/or resigning himself to a life of working class baby daddery? Oh, Jeff Buckley’s oft-abused cover of “Hallelujah” should do the trick:
Rescuing someone from a burning building? (Or drinking yourself into a stupor? Or slowly ruining every relationship you’ve ever had?) “Indie” rock is most definitely in order:
The Meaningful Montage is so trite, so ridiculously facile that this fan vid of The shield is practically indistinguishable from an actual episode:
In honor of all you anonymous Tuba lovers out there, I’ve gone ahead and edited the following choice editorializing out of the Wikipedia entry for The shield: “To enhance its realism, the show makes very little use of background music until the end of each episode.” Back loading music at the end of an episode “enhances” its “realism,” huh?
[Edit: Some devoted Shield fan has undone my edits. I had changed “realism” to read “market appeal.” Any Wikipedia editors out there, please join the discussion page and weigh in on the proposed change.]
— J.C. Freñán