Tuesday, July 10, 2012

For Whom the Bell Tows...

It has finally gotten out of hand. The world as I knew it is now destined to spin off it's axis, and hurtle to it's destruction in a death spiral towards the Sun. We, as a species,  have finally reached the point of no return, the point at which one realizes that he has been correct in despairing for the future of Mankind all along.

I take no satisfaction in being correct on this point; it's too sad for that.

Reality television has, finally, gotten completely ridiculous. I may have to start shooting people.

Regular readers will know that in this house, Reality Television seems King. It's not my fault, I promise you: it's all Tess Trueheart, my love, my muse, my reason for getting up in the morning. 

For if given a choice between Reality Television and having a root canal performed -- via the rectum, and sans anesthetic -- I would choose the high-risk-low-reward dental work every goddamned time.

I had thought that all the pawn shop shows, the "America-is-full-of-retards-with-limited-taste-and- intelligence-shows" (shows like American Idol, America's Got Talent, The X-Factor, Take Me Out, or The Voice), and the "I'll-hideously-debase-myself-for-money" programs (like Fear Factor) were enough to shake people out of their sense of stupidity, and perhaps make them demand better entertainment that didn't insult their intelligence, but I was wrong. Horrendously wrong.

For a new genre of Reality Television has achieved a foothold on American television screens; the shows about the rough-and-tumble world of the towing and repossession specialists.

Shows like South Beach Tow, Lizard Lick Towing, Operation Repo, Parking Wars have finally confirmed that Darwin has some 'splainin' to do: some organisms obviously do not evolve upward past a certain point. In fact, having achieved a certain level of sophistication and culture, the human species seems hell-for-leather bent on now destroying it one brain cell at a time. We have fallen so far, so quickly, that we're riveted to the television screen to watch people tow cars, and fervently hoping that the process involves at least a heated exchange of expletives, while really praying in our heart of hearts for a full-blown episode of mindless violence.

Personally, I do not find the idea of people towing cars, no matter how, shall we say, interesting and potentially-dangerous the process gets, to be particularly entertaining. In fact, it is not the process of repossessing some redneck's pickup, or some inner-city denizen's can't-afford-to-pay-for flash-car that is all that funny or fascinating; it's the people who do it that have become the focal point of the whole affair, for better or for worse.

Apparently, one needs but three qualifications to drive a tow truck: limited vocabulary liberally spiced with four-letter expletives and stock "Your Mother" responses; you need to be big -- or mostly fat -- enough to take or throw a punch; and you have to have this certain mutant, sideshow persona that intrigues the lowest common denominator in America...you know, the people who voted for Obama. See how well catering to the needs of the unbelievably stupid worked out? But, I digress...

The "get" on these shows are the people involved, who, for lack of a better description, fall into three, distinct categories:

a. The Outlaw - this is someone who has turned their larcenous past into a full-time career, i.e. they get to steal vehicles legally for a living. Nothing like letting your passion guide your career. And while they may have "turned their life around" by deciding to only steal when they have permission, these folks still retain the air of "disreputable" that clung to them before jail or juvie hall. You could use a whole host of descriptive language to describe these people -- greasy, dirtbomb, skank, scumbag -- and still not nail it.

b. The Outcast - this is someone who, in another time or another place, was probably the Goth kid at school. The one who dabbled in homosexuality or self-mutilation as an attention-getter. The one who got beaten up everyday for his lunch money, and turned to weight-lifting, steroids and extreme tattooing in order to scare the bullies off as an exercise in self-esteem building, and revenge-fantasy angst that still doesn't erase the fact that they're either heart-breakingly butt-ugly, dumber than dogshit or have a small penis.

c. The Drooling Idiot - this is someone who otherwise could never be gainfully employed at any job that required them to count past four. For people like this, their career options seem limited by intelligence; a choice between an Orange Jumpsuit or "Would you like fries with that?". We're talking people too stupid to pass a Civil Service Exam, and therefore, unqualified to deliver mail, or rubber-stamp a welfare application. Without the towing industry, these poor souls might actually starve to death on the streets of America for want of wherewithal.

Those are the basic archetypes on these programs, but they all have one extra trait that runs like the vein of gold through the entire genre: all of these people are true performers in a three-ring circus. The shows have an air of circus-like energy around them, or perhaps they remind one of something that Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan would feel right at home in. Each character, whether it is the comic-book archetypes of Operation Repo, the Dukes-of-Hazard-like qualities of the Lizard Lick bunch, or the absolute blob-like, doughnut-and-burrito-inhaling entities working at South Beach Tow, one gets the general impression that this type -- which once only proliferated in government and the sanitation department -- now proliferates in this industry. And they are armed with a big, heavy, powerful tow truck. One shudders at the thought.

I am often forced to watch this crap, although not so much at gunpoint; it's more of a passive-aggressive coercion on Tess' part, for if I am not spending several hours each evening sitting down while she vegetates on Reality Television, she believes it's some sort of sign that we're not compatible as a couple, breaking up, have no future, and so on and so forth. So, to spare myself the whining and bullshit, I sit my fat ass down and pretend I'm watching while I try desperately to recite Shakespeare, or recall the Periodic table of Elements in my head.

Unfortunately, televised stupidity has some eerie hold on the human psyche. It's like some sort of drug, that try as you might, you cannot help but to occasionally indulge. I don't like watching this folderol, but the alternative is having to listen to the Reality Television show in My Life, which is The Menstrual Whine That I Don't Want To Spend Time As A Couple With Her.

Personally, I'd rather be doing something other than watching a bunch of complete mouth-breathing douchebags tow cars and get into fights with the shallow end of the American Gene Pool on a regular basis. I can think of at least seventeen things I'd rather be doing, and only two of them are sexual in nature. This frightens me, somewhat. That's how desperate I am to escape the Black Hole of Reality Television, that I would pass on sex 15 out of 17 times!

I must do something to reverse this process that has caused Tess to suffer such significant brain damage. Perhaps it is time for some sort of Reality TV Rehab (I'm sure Dr. Drew would leap at the chance!) regimen that will snap her out of this, and get her to do something more productive and enriching with her time...like maybe cook something every once in a while, or read something better than Harlequin-lite drugstore novels by would-be, second-rate Judy Blumes, only with fancier contrived names?

I'm done watching Reality Television, and will soon put my foot down in this regard: I will refuse to watch another episode of this drama for the bulletproof stupid. Let's see how that goes...


Fubbles the baby cow said...

I don't believe that the problem is necessarily with humanity as a whole; merely the American culture, which has become obsessed with entertainment at any cost. Look at the political coverage on TV: The 'analysis' is more concerned with breathlessly covering the campaign as though it were a horserace, and the 'analysts' as nothing more than suit-wearing play-by-play commentators. There is no interest in talking about issues, because issues are boring, and don't get ratings. We have become the new Rome in the age of Nero and Caligula. We burn our cities, throw our citizens to the lions and watch the work of generations of our forebears crumble, all because it's entertaining.

Matthew said...

Hey, at least Caligula was a very intelligent -- if unbalanced -- man!

Seriously, Dude, I find the majority of people inhabiting this little marble of ours to be about as smart as a retarded garden slug, and to have all the redeeming qualities of an overflowing litter box. And it gets worse the older I get, too.

We're creating successive generations of morons. The greatest achievement of the 20th-21st century apparently isn't the splitting of the atom, the moon landing or the defeat of Totalitarianism: it has been the creation of a class of people who in years past would have died for lack of intelligence or motivation, but who somehow manage to thrive -- even multiply -- in today's society, and often without any personal effort expended, whatsoever.

These are the people that Reality Television -- and the shallow stupidity of our current political debates --is deliberately aimed at.

Personally, I blame the unionized schools, the Welfare State and Frosted Flakes, but what do I know?


Fubbles the baby cow said...

My personal suspect for the underlying malaise: lack of a frontier. It’s a personal bias of mine, but it rings true to me. When America had a frontier, the boldest citizens charged into it, and the rest of society focused its industry towards making life on that frontier possible. It lasted right up until the early 20th century, and the second World War forestalled the effects of its absence by giving the nation a common enemy and a common goal. The space race of the 60’s and 70’s introduced a possible new frontier, but we ended up doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons. Getting to the moon today is impossible for us.
Don Henley sang “There is no more new frontier.” He hit the nail on the head there. With nothing to inspire us, no dreams of a better life for us and our families, we turn to insipid, mind-numbing entertainment in the vain hopes of blotting out our bleak existence, and hope to forget our unemployment, our drug-addicted children, our apathetic community, by watching idiots debasing themselves for the world to see, smug in our convictions that “at least I’m not as bad as them.”

Matthew said...

Yeah, but that's sorta-kinda the point: we'd all like to think we're better than "them", and yet, we watch.

Or in my case, try to think of something else while being drawn moth-to-flame to the sideshow, and hating every minute of it.

So, are we better, or is it arrogance to believe otherwise? I'd like to think the arrogance is justified, but then again, you know me nearly 40 years now, so I'll let you be the judge, not trusting to my sense of objectivity.

At least I have hopes that you'll raise your children to be able to think for themselves and not fall for this kind of crap. You're smarter than that.

As for a New Frontier, we still have plenty of them to explore, the problem is in disentangling people from their overriding sense of self and motivating them to do something uplifting.

Maybe if we offered them money and a year's supply of Rice-a-Roni?

Fubbles the baby cow said...

The same motivation exists today that has always motivated people to explore the frontier: Freedom. Freedom from religious persecution, freedom from racial intolerance, freedom from government oppression. And above all, freedom to make profit. And if anything is going to motivate us into space, it will be profit.

You well know that we all have our failings as people. Be they great or small, there are things that all wish that we didn't have. I'd like to believe that we're better than the majority of the slobbering idiots that populate our world, but in the grand scheme of things, maybe we're just marginally better.