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?