Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If This Is What Real Life Looks Like…

...then we're all screwed, blued, and tattooed.

I am a voracious consumer of television. I don’t know specifically when this bad habit started, I only know that television is a part of about half my normal day. I watch the news religiously (thank that non-existent deity for Fox) and The History Channel, and most sporting events (hockey and football) are about as close to a religious experience as I can manage.

My television viewing habits used to be quite selective, but this has changed since I have taken up residence with my new/old girlfriend. Her viewing habits are, shall we say, not quite as discerning as mine. This fact has led me to a whole slew of new viewing experiences that, quite frankly, cause me to fear for the future of the human species.

Because my beloved is addicted to what is euphemistically referred to as “Reality Television”, and unfortunately, some aspects of the genre now have me hooked. This makes me want to simultaneously vomit and volunteer to be forcibly sterilized. If this is what Reality is like for most people then I must have been sleeping under a rock somewhere; I can honestly say that I have never known anyone like most of the douchebags I’ve see on these programs. Amazingly, I was not aware of just how much stupidity is going on around me, apparently 24 hours a day, that I’m failing to notice, and it has me thinking that I have to get outside more.

Armed to the teeth, of course. Because I do need to be protected from these idiots.

Most of this “Reality” fare is simply shocking, and leaves one to ponder this question:

If an extraterrestrial being landed on this planet tomorrow, and if he all he had to learn the basics of human culture was television only, just what would he learn, and would it cause him to either; a) tell the home world not to bother coming here, seeing as there is no intelligent life, or b) advise his superiors that the bags of flesh inhabiting this world are ripe for conquest and enslavement?

Let’s start with one of the more disturbing reality shows which is the newly-returned Fear Factor, a show in which contestants are apparently willing to risk life, limb, and their dignity for the chance to win $50,000.

The show consists of a series of stunts that follows a repetitive pattern which always include tests of stamina, agility, and intestinal fortitude, undertaken in an extreme manner. Contestants are left to hang upside down 15 stories above concrete, to try to unshackle themselves from all sorts of contrivances underwater before they drown, and of course, eat the most vile and disgusting substances known to man that did not originate in a Waffle House or White Castle.

Because let’s face it; one has not really lived until you’ve eaten raw elk penis, rancid fish heads, hissing cockroaches, all manner of molds, spores and fungi, and done it while lying within a locked, Lucite coffin, full of snakes and scorpions, trying to free yourself from a couple of padlocks before said box is destroyed in a horrific explosion. From what I've been told, the stunts are becoming ever-more extreme and it's simply a matter of time -- in my opinion -- before they end up killing someone.

I don’t care about anyone’s “competitive nature”; that’s simply too much danger and degradation to endure for a prize that will eventually equal less than half-a-year’s median salary, after taxes. If you’re lucky. One gets the distinct impression that there is a certain class of Americans out there that would literally eat their own shit for money, and the only way they can somehow manage to make that unpleasant prospect fun is to do it before a national television audience.

If our alien visitor wanted to know all about a certain class of people we call “Italians”, then he’s in store for a real treat.

We Italians were once the people who ushered in and fostered the Renaissance. We used to be the inheritors of the Roman legacy. We used to beam with pride at the Italian Roll Call of the world’s greatest men: Caesar, Da Vinci, Marconi, Michelangelo, Cicero, Galileo, Dante. Anyone with half a brain would be damned proud to be associated with, arguably, the brightest stars of the intellectual, scientific, political and artistic galaxies.

And then you watch an episode of Mob Wives and you begin to wonder if it’s possible to change your ethnicity in the same way that others get new noses or boobs.

Mob Wives follows the exploits (such as they are) of four Mafia princesses. They have achieved this lofty ideal either through accident of birth or marriage, but somehow it entitles them to be famous and play by a different set of rules than the rest of us. Personally, I find it little more than four illiterate whores living vicariously on the vile misdeeds of others, and presumably upon the ill-gotten gains, as well. About the only accurate thing in the show is the Italian propensity to both yell and curse, and it does nothing to indicate that Italian women are very often true ladies. But, it can, and does, get worse, because they're all living and hanging out in my hometown of Staten Island, New York.

So now you know why I stay inside the house so much, I guess...

Of course, there’s always The Jersey Shore, a show about the exploits of what we call in these parts ‘The Bridge and Tunnel Set’, only suspended in a noxious jello mold of massive quantities of hair gel and rank stupidity that can only be remedied, I think, by multiple gunshots. One wonders just what a girl has to do to get a name like ‘Snooki’, and how many arrests and STD’s did she accumulate whilst earning it?This show proves, once and for all, there’s a very good reason why stereotypes – of all kinds – exist; because they’re often all too sadly true.

I rather doubt you'd find one legitimate high school graduate on The Jersey Shore, and the one girl who actually did get her diploma probably performed an act of oral sex in order to get it.

If you’re interested in what life is like in  most of America’s ghettos, then you can watch one of my new favorites, The First 48. The show follows the investigations of real-life homicide detectives, and all too often, the victim is a minority. In this show you will learn that although African-Americans all have given names, no one ever uses them. Instead, men prance about with names like G-Bizzy, Skeeter Man, and Goldtoof, and very often, their closest and dearest friends (often their partners in crime) can say – with a straight face – that while they’ve known Boo Boo, Hammerhead and Stankypants forever – they’ve been tight, solid homeboys for 15 years now – no one knew they’re REAL names were Robespieere, Eustacean and Vitalis.

You’ll also learn that all African-American males, either suspects or victims, appear to be “aspiring rappers” or “music producers”, which I guess is a polite euphemism for drug dealer, gangbanger or deadbeat dad, which is what most of the people covered truly are. You’ll also discover that most of the victims are often dead for no logical reason whatsoever, except that the preferred method of conflict resolution in many African-American neighborhoods is to break out an AK-47 and indiscriminately spray bullets rather than settle things over a beer and a burger.

When there is an unfortunate case in which an upstanding pillar of the community -- a good father, a beloved coach, the well-known neighborhood watchman -- is killed, there is typically absolutely no remorse shown by the suspects at all. There is usually also no help forthcoming from witnesses or other members of the community who will then consequently bitch and whine about the violence done in the streets everyday, expecting someone to do something without their input or help. For some reason,. African-Americans seem to think -- one would get this idea from watching The First 48 -- that the police don't really need their help, and that talking to a cop about your dead relatives' activities and associations (they call it 'snitching') is the next best thing to sticking your bare tongue up a leper's ass.

About the only emotions one ever sees on The First 48 are the raw grief of the victim’s loved ones, or the policeman's irritation and frustration, and then there's always that one scene at the end, the one where the cops know they have their man because you can see him on the hidden interview camera tucking his arms inside his shirt. Invariably every suspect does it. It’s the reaction one expects from someone whose blood has just run cold in the presence of the police, and not because he fears for his safety or feels remorse for having taken someones life, but because he knows he’s about to lose his freedom, a commodity he usually badly abused while he had it.

There's another brand of nonsense shows which display that category of people I like to call “Possessed-of-just-enough-animal-intelligence-to-eat-shit-and-fuck”. This category cuts across all racial and ethnic lines and proves that Darwin just might have been right.

The Jerry Springer Show and The Maury Povich Show will introduce you to a class of human being that ranks somewhere between slime mold and that brown ring you find around the toilet when you don’t clean it regularly. These shows are a cornucopia of the decidedly lascivious underbelly of American Life – transvestites, lesbians, S&M aficionados, Rednecks, Trailer Trash, Welfare Mothers, the professional deadbeats, in short, the reason why most people should have to take a basic IQ test before they’re allowed to breed.

Springer’s show is so infamous, I should think, that its standard fare barely bears repeating. The truly interesting, and disgusting, sideshow takes place on Povich’s show, which is a wall-to-wall fourth-rate melodrama of paternity disputes, cheating baby daddies/mommas, polygraph tests and pap psychology. Recently, here in New York state our politicians have been debating the question of requiring all convicted felons to submit a DNA sample to a state database for use by the various police departments. They shouldn’t bother: Povich has done so many paternity tests (Is He or Isn’t He the Father -- it’s virtually the entire show) they should just ask him if they can use his.

It would certainly be a much cheaper option, and save the taxpayers a shitload of money.

Our rhetorical extraterrestrial would probably despair of finding anything worthwhile about this planet, if television was his only guide.

Watching this disgusting parade  which masquerades as entertainment makes me despair, too.

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