Friday, August 04, 2006

you must watch, little alex; you have no choice, you see...

UPDATE: for a specific example, brilliantly written by the lovely and gracious Tim Footman:
http://culturalsnow.blogspot.com/
post of august 8 2006


One afternoon back in 1991 I turned on the television set.

I saw Regis Philbin and Kathy Lee Gifford.

I yanked the plug out of the wall by the cord and didn't turn the television back on for six years.

The Stainless Steel Amazon will confirm this. She was there.
I did not do it for ideological reasons. I didn't do it for parenting reasons. She could watch whatever she wanted to at her friends' homes, there was no restriction at all. And we certainly didn't deprive ourselves of the holy glow of the crt*...we rented LOTS of movies, most of which were light entertaining crap.
But they were crap we chose.

The few times I tried to explain my reasons to people I got some completely uncomprehending looks. And it's really very simple...there is already too much 'average' in the world.

It kind of creeps me out that other people find that opinion so odd. It's like it's unAmerican or something.
"How can you not like television? "
I can not like it because after awhile a steady diet of anything gets old and a steady diet of bland gets old quick. That's how. Fuck, I felt like my brain was being homogenized.

There were contributing factors, of course.

At the time I was extremely angered by the discovery that in order to get any truth about Desert Storm I had to tune in to the Canadian coverage of the war. We were being told NOTHING. What we were being fed was so sanitized that it was wasted time.

I was also fed up to the teeth of having shit pimped at me every 2.5 minutes. Thirty-one years of having shit pimped at me, at that point.

Thirdly I was simply tired of the constant sound of scams and lies. At that time in my life I was face-first in the middle of scams and lies; hell, I knew lots of real people who could do it better! And if they weren't allowed in my house any more, why should this shit be any different?

I've mellowed a lot. Now, if there is something scheduled about Egypt or Iceman or historic events or archaeology, I happily plan to view. I can visit someones' home now and be sociable while the television plays in the background. This did not used to be the case. (I used to pretend to go to the bathroom and then stay in there a long time. People probably thought I had weevils or something.) I can tolerate television without taking its' stupidity quite so personally. For a limited amount of time.

Regis Philbin is still on my shit list, though.






*'VIDEODROME' was a documentary.
shhhh. that's a secret. don't tell ANYONE.

32 comments:

  1. Yesterday I was rummaging through a pile of used books at a sale and found a paperback bio of Ms. Gifford. It puzzles me that she had so much air time for so many years. So if you clicked off your TV and turned it on six years later, she'd still be there. I briefly wondered "Whatever happened to Kathie Lee Gifford?" but the thought was fleeting and I don't really want to know the answer.

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  2. One September I removed all televisions from our home. One month. It was hard at first for the kids, but then they adjusted. We had so much more time! It was heaven.

    I still wish we hadn't brought them back inside. ::sigh::

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  3. I try to watch as little as poss these days as TV was the babysitter when I was a child. As a result I deliberately avoid soaps and drama/comedy series because I have an addictive personality. I like movies and am totally with you on documentaries – the same themes too. Far TOO much of my life has been wasted in front of the box already and I wish I had the courage to get rid completely. Adverts infuriate me and I thank the BBC (TV and radio) and it’s unique funding for providing a safe haven from these mind invaders.

    I wish I grew up in your house ;o)

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  4. There are 5 people in my house and not one of us has a telly. We love it that way. On the rare occassion that 2 or more of us have some simultaneous free time we sit around the kitchen with tea and talk until the small hours. We talk about the mathematical concepts of universal morality, food, literature, technological developments, politics, relationships. It's so wonderfully unaverage. Regis Philbin is a blight on the human species. I can't tell you what a comfort it is to know there's still one intelligent person left in the US of A. Thank you for being you, FN.

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  5. there was a long stretch of time that i didn't watch tv. it was mostly due to lack of time and the ability to sit still. i really enjoyed that time: not knowing or caring what my co-workers were talking about, not feeling the need to be stationary in front of the box at scheduled times every week. but now, i've gotten the bug and am addicted again.
    stupid teevee.

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  6. Can't be bothered to read the post cause im pissed - will read tmrw. Can't sleep either cause ive had a coffee frappe - just thought id share that with you :)

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  7. You'all are going to hate me but I am an afficianado of 'good' crap tv.I sometimes purposely make the time to sit on the sofa , under a pile of dogs , all of us munching biscuits , and we chortle our way thru some truly inspired rubbish , some of my favourites have been Pimp my ride , Big Brother and of course the best of them all The Osbournes....which used to have me rolling on the floor in helpless mirth.
    Since Mr C has buggered off with the dogs , its been lonely biscuit for one...harumph

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  8. Careful Beast, mention the Devil 3 times and he will appear . . .

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  9. *Gasp* I just can't believe what I have just read.

    C'mon people! quit hiding the fact that you love to watch tons of TV? Show your true colours! Come out of the closet and view with dignity! Let 'em know you're proud to be a Tuber! Lets celebrate the joys of the life of prolonged viewing!

    Never done me any harm.

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  10. Beast, you are the lone voice of reason in this sea of Philistines. Step up and be counted people!

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  11. Shit I'm still pissed from last night!! Thought I'd share that

    I am completely addicted to Big Brother, I am every year, I will hold my hands up to that.

    Pete to win!!!

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  12. Oh go on then, I'll be honest, I too love crap telly; Eastenders, America's Next Top Model, Last of the Summer Wine and Nip/Tuck (which I assumed was a really black comedy until someone told me different). My only problem is dragging myself away from the computer so I have time to watch it.

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  13. Hey, come on, give the right wing guys who own your media (and a lot of ours) a chance! They have to be able to brain wash you. Otherwise, how could they persuade large percentages of the population that Dubya is anything other than an evil, self-serving international terrorist? Or that christianity is compatible with naked, unashamed greed and a lack of concern for the welfare of others?

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  14. I can imagine that there's a lot of crap on American tv (particularly the news coverage) but ironically a lot of tv shows from America have been my favourites in the past few years.

    Thing is, the arrival of satellite television hasn't really offered many more options over here. Channel surfing has to be one of the bleakest experiences going - hundreds of channels, wall to wall crap. At least BBC 4 and FilmFour offer interesting stuff, and you're less likely to miss a programme you want to record as it's repeated.

    I try to be selective about what I view but I can honestly say that I'd find it a bit odd not having a television set. Would I have to take up playing board games? Or learning how to play the banjo? Or have a conversation with someone? Perish the thought.

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  15. mj: Judge Crater
    Jimmy Hoffa
    Kathy Lee Gifford
    seeing a pattern? Uh-huh.
    Pam: it interesting how many times you find youself going to turn it on without thinking that first week, isnt it? kinda like when you first give up smoking and then you get a phone call or have a cup of coffee and immediately start looking for the pack.
    hardhouse: i second that emotion! i found myself planning my afternoons around NYPD Blue and that did it for Dennis Franz. But I'll be first in line for the box set. That and *sigh* Buffy the Vampire Slayer. that damn thing was like HEROIN.
    CB: recently my Yummy Biker has started getting all lefty-arty and worrying about the working conditions of Chinese factory employees and who makes the best indie films. thats our dinnertable conversation. he watches the Sundance channel while he waits for the topcoat to dry on the Sportster.
    claire: it easy to do...re above Buffy the Vampire Slayer and NYPD Blue. insidious!!!!
    Ratso: chasing your own tail instead of strange tail!
    Beast: my daughter sat me down and made me watch the Osbournes and I thought I'd pee myself! see, kids, prolonged ant snorting does cause brain damage!
    ratticule: would you go run on your wheel or something? (hides tv guide with 'VH1 Special-Child STars Speak Out' highlighted under sofacushion)
    hardhouse: (I am too, yeesh!) since my childhood closely resembled an episode of 'Big Brother', i feel no compulsion to watch.
    hendrix: nip/tuck was marketed originally as a black comedy until people started taking it seriously. i understand it was pretty cool. *whaps hendrix on head with magic princess wand to drive out the pop culture demons*
    *but not hard xo*
    qenny: i think i love you. no, i know i love you. this in no way negates the love i feel for frobisher my ratterrhoid, but it does mean that the two of you will have to share your toys now.
    betty: hey, you can do a mean rendition of the Star Spangled Banner on the banjo, though you have to be careful not to get tangled up in the strap when you set it on fire.

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  16. I watch far too much tv. The one thing that makes me rage (well rage by my standards) is people having the TV on as background when you go and visit. Unless there's actually something happening, whats the point?

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  17. ouch! pop culture demons now driven away. I'll now watch tv in the spirit of ironic postmodernism and no one will think any the worse of me.

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  18. I do watch tv -- but almost never watch the news. I will read it, listen on the radio -- but I will not watch tv news ever if I can help it. 9/11 did it for me. I saw those images once and then turned the stream off. I feel like my fear is being pimped. But people have a similar reaction to me FN : "What do you mean you don't watch the news?"....Some how I get by and manage to find out what's what.

    On the lighter side I LOVE some weird stuff: Project Runway, medical shows (ooooo OPERATIONS!), and Brady Bunch episodes (I try to name the episode before the end of the credits -- and most of the time I am RIGHT!!).

    Some times you have to let art wash over you.

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  19. See Frobi , They are all creeping out the woodwork now , airing their terrible TV secrets.

    **** Stands up ....looks sheepish***
    Ahem MY NAME IS BEAST
    and I LOVE BAYWATCH

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  20. British TV has degenerated badly over the last 15-20 years, but there's still just enough going on to justify having a set. (Recently: Bleak House; Life on Mars; Dr Who; Extras; a few odd documentaries on More4 and BBC4.)

    I get the best of the best - I live abroad, and my lovely chums are kind enough to record all the good stuff, so i even avoid the dross. Well, except for the sudden slew of post-Little Britain sketch shows - Titty Bang Bang, Man Stroke Woman, Catherine Tate, etc etc - that they were kind enough to inflict on me.

    But the TV avoidance scenario is quite feasible. Except when exciting Jiffybags of DVDs arrive, the only option is Thai TV, the so-inane-it's-funny aspect of which wears off quickly... When I do get back, there's no way I'll return to my tuberous nature of the past.

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  21. Thank goodness thats all settled and everyone can get back to the television. Thought it was turning nasty there for a mo'.

    Beast, you are a trooper! A special "coach potato" award coming your way. They could have done with you when Plymouth was bombed by the Nazis.

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  22. billy: that irritates me, too.just the motion, let alone the babble.
    hendrix. theres the spirit! my excuse is 'oh, someone left this on...im not watching it REALLY.'
    mutha: i was held captive by the 911 coverage from the second airplane until three days later. in three days time i saw it devolve from a national tragedy into a propaganda device, when i resolutely refused to watch another minute. it disgusted me. jesus, someone get me off this soapbox.
    beast: and you may HAVE Baywatch. all the Baywatch your little heart desires!
    tim: we get AsiaNow and FarsiTV (or whatever it's called) via Canadian television. you're absolutely right; its just as bad as american television.
    favorite BBC special of all time: Brideshead Revisited, with Jeremy Irons. utterly, utterly perfect. but someone please give Jeremy a sandwich.
    frobi: you antic rodent, go check in the mirror and see if theres any fur left at all on your hine or was it wore away with all the Beastly smooching?
    I will admit this: if our television was as good as y'alls television i'd watch more too. there. are you happy? you've made me crawl! *snif* fine!
    (now do it again!)

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  23. Okay, what's wrong with a little gratuitous sex and violence to round out your weekend? I'm a Sunday evening HBO fan. Now, thanks to the wonderful world of blogging, who needs the tube!? Actually I have a couple of guilty pleasures, but if I never watched them again, I might just survive.

    I can't really make a strong argument on what you've been missing. Certainly not Regis. Did you deny your child PeeWee's Playhouse?

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  24. As everyone is fessin up, I’m also a sucker for some US sit coms such as Friends, Will and Grace etc…

    Also currently enjoying Synchronicity on BBC3, plenty of twisted plots, gratuitous sex and an average looking cast… which is nice!

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  25. g: the Stainless Steel Amazon didn't like Mr. Rubens, but i liked Cowboy Curtis. i was so happy to see him installed as the gatekeeper of the Matrix, although i missed the lavender chaps and vest.
    hardhouse: if it wasn't for Grace, i'd have actually watched the Karen show - er, the Will and Grace show.

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  26. Kathie Lee Gifford makes my skin crawl, CRAWL I TELL YOU! I wann sock it to her... K-POW and all that!

    I hear ya... being in Spain we download the shows we like and watch them by choice... Loverboy used to think me nuts for not being able to watch Pay-Per-View (which we never paid for... we had our ways) because of the fact that I simply could not be scheduled to sit and watch... DVDs and the like are more my thang!

    You are a wise woman sistah FN! Funkified Fo sho!

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  27. I, also, admit to watching far too much TV. I refuse to watch the news, except occasional PBS items. Lately, a lot of what I watch seems to be cheesy "reality" TV, as well as my usual sci-fi/fantasy choices (BUFFY! Was not the musical one of the best things on television ever? I mean, moon landing? Pshaw!). I know that it's all due to being continually stressed and not wanting to think too much, but it's better than taking triple doses of Xanax.

    Besides, I figure that if I do go back to school, my brain cells will be nice and rested. Oh, and with TiVo? Every show lasts half as long and has no commercials. Fabulous!

    P.S.: FN - may I add you to my blogroll, even though you are unforgivably smarter than me? I mean, I? I mean... oh, fuckkit.

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  28. I too liked Cowboy Curtis and I remember (keeping in mind this was a Saturday morning kids' show) when PeeWee and perhaps, Miss Yvonne were admiring his big cowboy boots and Cowboy Curtis responded, "You know what they say - big feet, big boots!".

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  29. mizB: knowin that shit. truthfully? i don't know a single person who actually pays for 'pay per view'. it's gotta be a front for something.
    Danator: my fave buffy? the 'first slayer'dream one. sweet rolls, blog rolls, you are welcome danator! and mrs. danator too! even grandma nator. I will add you to mine when i git off my flat ass and update things. yu rite gud!
    g: i remember that! omg!
    i proudly own the cowboy curtis action figure COMPLETE WITH THE RARE AND COVETED SEPARATE COWBOY HAT.

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