Television Without Pity

Do you think our televisions would pity us?  You know, if they were animate, and, therefore, capable?  Do you think they would feel sorry for the misery they inflict?  We are a nation of catatonic cattle, lulled into lethargic contentedness in our couch potato living room utopias, and most of us haven’t got a clue.

But all that aside, this is what I really don’t understand about television: what is going on with television today?  I mean, seriously!?!?!

MTV (“Music TeleVision”) no longer plays music.  Hasn’t for years.  This makes no sense.

You know what MTV does have, though?  Reality TV shows.  Or, rather, “reality” TV shows.    Stupidest game ever shows. All you can handle (and then some).  24/7.

To their credit/blame, MTV was kind of the originator of this genre.  Do you remember back when “The Real World” started?  Late 80s or early 90s.  Back when MTV still sometimes actually played music videos.  In the beginning, as an idea, it was novel.  Kind of fascinating, 6 “real” people, strangers, from different backgrounds, forced to live together in front of a camera crew for several months at a time.  Well, I was intrigued anyway.  And back then, it didn’t seem quite so contrived.  It seemed at least plausibly authentic.

Since that original season, though, the cast has just gotten younger, dumber, drunker, more violent, more outrageous, less particular.  Or maybe I’m just getting older.  No, they are irrefutably bigger idiots.

And it’s not just “The Real World” anymore.  MTV has a whole line-up chock full of semi-scripted trash with over-tanned, intoxicated meat-heads trying to hook up and impregnate each other (see “Jersey Shore”), or under-gymed, abusive teenage brain trusts having already succeeded at hooking up and impregnating each other (see “16 and Pregnant”/”Teen Mom”).

“Reality TV” is everywhere you look, not just on MTV.  Cooking shows, home shows, car shows, truck shows, shopping shows, lumberjack shows, digging-for-gold shows, fishing shows, surviving shows, dating shows, getting married shows, having baby shows, disciplining children shows, getting-caught-cheating shows, cop shows, robber shows, pawning shows, and on and on.  Question: when will it stop?  Answer: it won’t.  Strike that.  Prediction: the apparently insatiable appetite for “reality” television will not be satisfied until there are as many channels as there are people on the planet and you can tune in and watch anyone, anywhere, anytime, doing anything.  In real time.  Only then will we realize how ridiculous it has become.  15 minutes of fame?  Forget it!  There will be no celebrities because we will all have equal air time, and no one will leave their homes.  We’ll just stay inside and stare at screens of everyone else staring back at us.  Just like in Fahrenheit 451. That dude was a visionary.  Mark my words.

So what can be done?  Maybe it’s none of my business.  Maybe I’m just sounding snarky, and waspy, nose in the air, and nah, nah, nah.  It’s not like that.  And I can’t let myself completely off the hook.  I watch TV, just like any modern man.  Even reality TV.  Have for years.

I don’t have a big TV, though.  No man cave.  And TV is not a big part of my life.  Sure, as a kid, I used to think Hulk Hogan was a real wrestler.  And B. A. Baracus used to be my hero (him and MacGyver; that guy was AWESOME!).  But my real heroes are in books (books are my last refuge).

I sometimes wish I could occupy a parallel universe where TV was books and books were TV.  I wish I had the conviction to destroy my television.  Abandon it.  Stop letting it waste my time and leave it behind forever.  Maybe some day.  Or perhaps I need something more permanent.  Irreversible.

Who’s got a sledgehammer?

14 thoughts on “Television Without Pity

  1. I like American Idol. Used to be embarrassed, now I don’t care.

    I hate just about everything else on TV that isn’t an HBO series or an NCAA tournament basketball game.

  2. It was SEVEN people, not six. “This is the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house…” Remember?

    Also, acknowledging the fact that it is no longer musically relevant in any way, MTV dropped the “Music Television” tagline last year.

    • You are so right, Daisy M. I stand corrected. How could I forget? They even said it in the intro: “This is the true story… of seven strangers… picked to live in a house…work together and have their lives taped… to find out what happens… when people stop being polite… and start getting real…The Real World.” (emphasis added).

      I guess I do have to give MTV (not Music Television) props for dropping the charade. But still, can you do that? That would be like starting a television channel called “All Cooking All the Time,” and then, slowly but surely, taking on non-cooking programs until eventually it was nothing but around the clock sumo wrestling or something. Would you still call your channel “ACAT”? These are very important considerations.

  3. Who would host the Steampunk channel? Laila Ali?

    My reality show would simply be one-cut-per-second extreme closeups of different parts of my face. It would be filmed like an action scene from the Bourne movies, in that “camera rolling down a hill” mode.

  4. Last night was one of the first warm nights of the spring. It was beautiful outside, light turning to dark, a gentle breeze. Walking during these times is one of my favorite things, calming and inspiring. I was the only one outside. Every house I passed, I could see the distinctive bluish glow dancing against windows and ceilings. Television. We’ve all been cooped up inside all winter, and it finally gets nice outside, but there people remain, a sedated army of La-Z-Boy zombies. Makes me sad.

  5. We haven’t had TV (well, paid TV) in our house for over 2 years. Not even an antenna or anything. Not to sound self-righteous, it’s not because of that. Basically, I am too cheap to pay for it. It was just one of those things that didn’t make the cut. I’m glad we don’t have it. When we did have it, it was on all the time it seemed like. You just get sucked in…one HGTV episode after another. It’s hard to stop watching. We’re not perfect though. There are plenty of shows online, and that is how we watch any shows that we want to watch. My personal favorite is Survivor. I don’t know why, I have just always loved watching it and it’s a show I can watch and not feel too much guilt over. You know what I hate? TV’s in the bedroom!

    • I think it’s a good choice. I sometimes wish we didn’t have a TV. Of course I watch it some when it’s there, but I think it’s a huge waste of time. I hate it. And the constant noise (especially of Sponge Bob Square Pants, Phineas and Ferb, and the like drives me BONKERS in no time).

      You should talk to “Dunce Five” about HGTV. She is addicted. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

      Shows online are, I think, a good compromise. You’re more selective, there are no commercials, and it’s free. Go for it! Indulge a little!

      I could not agree more about TV in the bedroom. MUCH more important things that should be going on in there, including, but certainly not limited to, talking, sleeping, and reading. And TV can take away from all of those. Throw it out!

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