The following is a screed from Ian concerning the debut of Soft Focus.
SOFT FOCUS DEFILES GRAVES OF HISTORIC TV PROGRAMS
As one strolls through the cemetery of bygone television shows, one genuflects dutifully before the headstones of the hypnotists, charlatans, and mind control experts who have shaped our world through their cathode ray. They’re all therethe venerated classics, the lesser knowns, and even the shows who never made it past the pilot stage, often due to influenza. Every now and then you see some gravediggers intent on exhuming the corpse of a particular show, like Miami Vice or The Brady Bunch, so that they can attempt to give it new life as a major motion picture.
Amongst the graves, by a pond lined with sycamores, there is a striking marble edifice, set on a hoary mound right in the middle of the yard. It obviously houses some of the more significant shows. This mausoleum, gaudier than its neighboring crypts, holds the cadavers of chat shows gone by. It bursts at its seams with the ghastly demons who presided over these iniquitous programs.
As one steps nearer this sepulcher (perhaps to throw a pile of dung on it), one might hear a shriek or feel a chill sent out by its terrifying residents, the cursed phantoms who were the chat show hosts. We actually remember these characters fondly. They were the warm and welcoming mediators who invited their guests to share their innermost feelings with the “general public,” that as yet unseen mass of men and women who are apparently the target of all the advertisements we other people endure day in and day out. Yes, they were the nicest of women and men, these hosts, experts at chitchat and quick with their witsthe masters of vague banter.
Yet these people, despite their best intentions, failed us. The talk show hosts were beholden to dark powers and ideology beyond their ken. The parties who determined their guests were an unending stream of desperate shills, hawking this or that movie or product, and the conversations were dumbor at least pointless.
Strangely enough, this enforced vacuity didn’t undermine the chat show hosts’ popularity. It actually enhanced their viewership. The hosts became, like the President of the United States, people with no apparent skill or qualification except the ability to wear a suit. People everywhere thought to themselves, “I couldand shouldbe doing that job.” Just as they do with the President. Everyone imagines themselves as a possible chat show host, as opposed to, for example, a professional tennis player.
Soft Focus is a chat show that is different from every other ever. A new kind of vacuity is present in the sense that there is a vacuum of corporate pressure to say this or that or avoid some subject so as not to bum out the sponsor, who is usually an arms manufacturer. Soft Focus is a free space for the hostmyselfand the gueststoday’s most exciting underground performersto discuss whatever is relevant and of urgency. These are not definitive interviews in terms of being historical round-ups, but discussions about art, culture, politics, personal history, personal feelings, fashion, and the like.