Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lobotomization by Pseudoreality

The year was 1992, and I was, like many of the 80's generation, a regular viewer of MTV. I remember all these hokey music videos from artists that occupy the "Where Are They Now?" bin, and much of the music and imagery over the years has shaped my perception. I remember the first videos I saw from Michael Jackson, from Madonna, and the parodies of these from Wierd Al. I even remember, back in 1999 or so getting home early one day when the very first music video from the upcoming Star Wars: Episode I was coming on (the video, and the music itself kicked ass of course). But it was 1992 when MTV introduced a show called The Real World.

The premise of this landmark piece of shit was simple: put a bunch of varying 20-something kids in a house and let them whine at the camera and get pissed at and/or screw somebody. Needless to say, I was not a fan, as this show, and many others overran MTV. Now, they don't play music anymore, seem to almost never reference music, and as a result, I've stopped watching them forever. But the formula was there. People like to see real people acting stupid in front of the camera.

Now, between the game shows without thought, like Deal or No Deal, the gang of morons in a contrived situation, like Survivor, or the inane manufacture of "stars" on glorified talent competitions like the bastardization of music that is American Idol, as well as countless clones of pseudoreality and celebreality, I stay the hell away from network television like the analog (and soon to be wholly digitized) vanilla piss balloon that it is. With few exceptions, the quality of the bad three networks, their bitch cousin Fox, and the various failures strewn across the landscape of broadcast continue to churn out show after lobotomized show. Thankfully, between the multitudes of cable channels, good ol' talk radio, and the glory and freedom of the Internet, I find plenty of intelligent passive entertainment.

So what's my point, other than to say American Idol sucks ass? Well, first of all, it's the general dumbing down of entertainment, for both the creators and the viewers. While there may occasionally be a good moment or two, or genuine quality emerging from the editing room, most of the shows are either the exploration of the most pointless minutia ever conceived (the late Anna Nicole Smith's show was the most obvious example here), or an attempt to gross out the viewing audience, or the rework of the variety show into a competition with audience participation. If I want to watch all that crap, there's always pro wrestling, the manly version of the soap opera. And the soap opera is a form of entertainment where you write the plot on a fucking post card and make five hours of programming out of it.

But even worse, these shows don't require thought. And thinking is in short supply now, even occasionally among readers of this excuse for cogent thought that is SPD. Considering that there are far too many serious things happening in the real world, far too many people are zoned out on reruns of shows that actually suck your IQ down by the minute.

In the end, it's a matter of personal choice. But the fact that these pitiful excuses of shows are so popular and prevalent is a good indicator of the state of our education system, the state of voter competence, and the reason we are slowly spiraling down the path to the nanny state where everybody will nurse on the nipple of government. Thanks for the mammaries.

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