The Village Idiot: Are you watching enough TV?
Special to The Union
Studies say the average American spends five and a half hours a day watching some kind of video — TV, movies or online videos. But mostly TV.
What a bunch of amateurs.
I watch five and a half hours of television before breakfast. But then, it’s kind of my job to watch TV. I watch it so you don’t have to. While I’m stuck inside the house turning into the spitting image of Jabba the Hutt, you can be out bowling, shopping or talking to other humans who might actually respond. I’ve been talking back to the television for years, and not once has it answered me back.
There has been a lot of talk recently about how cellphones and Facebook and Instagram and Tinder and streaming have made us less social. A lot of that discussion takes place on TV, as if watching TV is somehow the height of social interaction. If Facebook and Twitter are bad, the boob tube is infinitely worse. Even my most prolific Facebook posters aren’t spending anywhere near five and a half hours a day on Facebook.
But some of you are apparently not watching enough TV, because I am starting to see stories on the Internet with headlines like “How to Watch the Candidates’ Debate” and “How to Watch the Super Bowl.” As if these are tasks that require instructions.
If you watch enough TV, one day you will see everything. I once watched a nature show about poaching rhinos in Africa. The poachers don’t kill these great animals for their meat or skin; they just cut off the horn and leave the carcass to rot. Then the horn is ground up and sold as an aphrodisiac. Now, let me ask you: With 7 billion people on this planet, do we need any aphrodisiacs?
Another time, I saw a news story about a company that sells bottled water for dogs. Dog owners are buying it at $1.98 a quart, and they say their dogs love it. Of course the dogs love it. It probably comes from some guy’s toilet. A really, really rich guy’s toilet.
I can still remember when all the TV critics said that “Seinfeld” was a show about nothing. What did they think the rest of TV was about? Plato’s “Republic”? Renaissance art? A comprehensive study of the events that led up to the French Revolution? Is “Wheel of Fortune” about something? Is “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” about something?
The big news in TV right now is that agents Mulder and Scully will be back investigating the paranormal in a new run of “The X-Files.” The brilliance of the original “X-Files” was not the acting, the suspense or the plot — it was the set decoration and the location shots. It was always set in places that don’t charge any location fees: parking garages, shipping container docks, railroad sidings. Half the scenes were just dark rooms with Mulder holding a flashlight. They made a science of doing things on the cheap. Compare that to the expense of shooting a lavish scene in “Downton Abbey.”
Oddly, though, the craziest paranormal activity taking place on television is not on “The X-Files,” but in advertisements for phone-in psychics. They all seem to follow a similar script that goes like this:
“I called for a sample reading, and it was like Psychic Sally really understood me. She told me I was a gullible, silly fool who falls for anything. And she was right! She seemed to know right away that I’m the kind of person who’s always being taken advantage of. How could she know that without even meeting me? She also knew that I’m always broke because the numbers in my dreams never end up winning the Powerball. It’s like she’s known me all my life! Call Psychic Sally… She knows you, too!”
Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.
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