Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Thing About Television

The thing about television is that nobody after a certain age should actually want to watch it. I mean, it’s all written to be as non-taxing to the 14 year old mind as it can be. Should any grown person ever give a damn about the new fall season? Now maybe, just because there are natural lulls and voids in yours and my life, having 2 or 3 shows to watch on a regular weekly basis is all right, but how many cop shows, lawyer shows, medical shows, wacky attractive white folks comedy shows, pseudo talent/reality/documentary shows, fat-people-are-people-too shows, watch-paint-dry-as-I-rent-my-house shows, and idiotic news does the human brain need? And they’re all the same bloody show!

“Tooth & Mouth: When it comes to crime, a crack team of dental technicians find that truth…is often in the eye of the molar. Presented with limited commercial interruption by Colgate Chewing Floss; tonight on Fox.”

Here’s how TV knows it’s got you ungently by the balls and you don’t even care: CSI; CSI: Miami, CSI: New York; CSI: L.A. (probably coming); NCIS; NCIS: L.A. (really); Law & Order; Law & Order: SVU; Law & Order Frickin’ Jesus—- Sweet greasy damn, they’re not even pretending to hide it anymore! It’s all Mountain Dew, folks, just a different colored dye! (By the way, Mountain Dew is now MTN Dew; even our beverages are illiterate.)

But we watch anyway. We could, let’s say, play cards, or study a new language, or learn an instrument; we might take up painting, mold clay, scrapbook, reminisce. Cooking can be a joy to perform when approached as a possibility rather than an obligation. Conversation-—remember that?-—conversation is a beautiful thing once the mind is engaged. Instead, we watch TV. We get home from work, we’ve got 5 or 6 hours to kill before bed, we devote at least 3 of those to TV. On average. I’m not saying TV doesn’t have its place. Like terrible romance novels and Tom Cruise movies, the brain needs its candy. But even candy has its levels of benefits. Candy doesn’t have to decay the brain and sludge the cognitive processes.

TV, like bad books, often intentionally kills our ability to think. Parasitic self-preservation.

TV does not care about your marriage, your kids, the goals you coulda, woulda, shoulda reached, or whether anybody in your family ever amounts to anything. If corporations have the same rights as individuals (get this, they do. Yeah, I know) then TV is the Pope. TV tells you when to wake up, when to take a leak, when to pay attention to your spouse, when to eat, when to go out, when to stay in, when to finally get things done…because, for a lot of us, our time is scheduled around something stupid on TV. I remember when TV was at least a gracious guest. Sometimes it tried to be art. Rod Serling was a god.

Do we all know that advertisers have made television the ubiquitous necessary evil? Societally, it’s a necessary evil because there are some nights a man needs his Cinemax after those long spells of not getting any, but other than that, along with a couple cooking shows, one comedy, and a righteous documentary on PBS about Blues players or other bit of coolness, what does TV actually offer to justify stealing life away from us middle-aged fucks who are already closer to death than we realize?

Addiction: When someone’s addicted what’s the first thing out of their mouth after some truth is put in front of their faces? “I don’t have to (fill in addiction blank); I just do it when I feel like it; I can stop anytime I want.”

Shut the pie hole. You do have to; you do it all the time; you’ll stop when you’ve been abandoned by everybody who cared about you. Maybe. Or you’ll spiral into the addiction so hard you’ll be scheduling your life according to the convenient blocks in TV Guide.

And that, my friends, would be a crying shame.

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