As a kid I watched too much television. And why not? It was the sixties and seventies and television had graduated a bit from the prudery of where it all started. That meant there were shows about martians and talking horses and hillbillies graduating via sheer luck to Beverly Hills. And don’t get me started on all the emerging sci-fi and comic shows where technology abounded and heroes started to get both friend and foe female counterparts that drew me ever closure to the screen where I could inspect all them vivacious curves in super-tights and what potentially lies beneath. How could I know at the time how bad all that fun and reality replacement was for me? I was growing up in a new form of mass communication that this universe had never seen before. And when my eyes got tired, I’d just grab a box of lucky charms, pour in some wholesome milk and spoon my dead mind across the color boxes that seemed to carefully emulate what was slowly being burned onto my retinas from too much television.
The effect it all had on me? (Get your barf bag cause this might be hard to swallow.) Television caused me to grow up fast. And. Absorbing the world with an electron gun pouncing fluorescent gas on a vacuum glass screen prevents one from actually putting a little effort into life. Hence, I grew up fast but in all the wrong ways. Of the many problems growing up in the suburban-hell that is lower middle class mortgage poor American’t, try avoiding television when nothing else interests you. For you see, there are two things ubiquitous in the horror genre that is American’t youth and that drives young minds to the endlessness of all-things nothing. One is hydrocarbon mobility – which has been the catalyst for turning fancy and expensive material of any kind into the objects of desire that drive consumerism. The other is the brainwave ersatz that is perhaps no longer driven by cathode ray tubes but has found its equal by being superseded with easy-to-get flat screens. If you couldn’t drive away in a car (to buy/consume something), you’d sit home and watch the tube. Now, so many years later, where so little has changed, how are they gonna burn 3D onto your retinas? How are they gonna directly inject YouTube into your cerebral cortex?
Sadly, what has stayed with me from so long ago, is the fact that I squandered so much time not reading when I was ten. In fact, you’d have to double that to come to the time where I finally started thinking about reading. Seriously. Sad, eh? Now, if you were to ask me in haste what I would recommend for young people as a replacement for the device that is their mind, I’d say/yell Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. Ok. Maybe that’s not a good idear. Here. Here’s a better suggestion. George Orwell. Indeed, isn’t such a piece of work ultimately an easy read that can potentially hone ones reading skills? That is, get the mind used to reading as a form of escape – instead of challenging the mind to death like most parochial education does – and then leading young people to seek the easy refuge of mindless television? Wouldn’t George Orwell be good for that?
Perhaps there lies the essence of how I think children should be taught today. And please put some effort into understanding my cynicism here. If kids are not given Orwell (or Proust) to read then something, either paper or digital, that can open the mind and not close it, is what education should be about. Heck. If what we’re dealing here with fidgety kids who play too many computer games, which ultimately no different than television of yesteryear, then get them into sports or recess or cleaning highways and after their bodies are tired and relaxed, you could even go as far as to read to them. That would be an incredibly useful thing for a teacher to do. No matter what age or grade.
Oh, how I remember Mrs. McDonald in eighth grade and how she read “The N-word of the Narcissus” by John Conrad to us. It’s beside the point that Mrs. McDonald got fired after that. Remember. I went to Jack Shit Middle School. Mrs. McDonald didn’t use “n-word” while reading us this story. She used the real word. Nuff said there, eh. But that’s not what I wanted to say about Mrs. McDonald. Because even though only a few heard anything she read – even the unspeakable n-word – I absorbed what is ultimately a beautiful story about camaraderie and humanism in the face of prejudice and greed. And beyond that I could clearly see Mrs. McDonald’s run, ripped, torn, revealing panty-hose and the grime spots left on her underpants by womanhood as she walked over me (I was on the floor) while she read to me as no one had ever done before. To this day John Conrad’s preface to Narcissus is something I regularly refer to. On the other hand, anything is better than the freak-show authoritarian indoctrination learning that is dished out to kids today. But I digress.
So. Television = bad. Is that clear? So. Deal with the fact that if you have to watch television make sure everyone yells at you to turn off the news. It’s the least you can do. Reason? Things have changed. Hard to believe, eh. After the seventies came the eighties. Talk about emptiness – and change. Do you know what emptiness does? That’s right. It creates a vacuum. Do you know what comes out of a vacuum? That’s right. The nineties! (Should I have used the word Hoover instead?) If you don’t believe me, get this. (Did you fill the barf bag from before?) THEY have found something new to coincide with the convenience of television consumption above and beyond consuming trinkets of hardware and turning the world’s youth into the pre-zombies of the near future.
Enter the ultimate generational and demographic time-frame known as the nineties. This period is not just the ending of a century. It is instead a gateway into a new millennium where dystopia reigns supreme. There was one thing that I got out of the eighties. It’s this: Get the fuck out of Dodge. That’s a saying in American’t that means something like, the fucking ship is sinking and if you want to somehow survive, you better not even get aboard. Or something like that. As the eighties came to an end I knew that things were only gonna get worse. It was time to get away from the bigotry, hypocrisy and malcontent of American’t and its cultural, generational failure to cope with its own success. I saw green grass beyond, baby. A shinny city on a hill. A rainbow. I saw… bullshit. I just wanted out of Dodge.
So what happened? I expatriated to a place that is the absolute same-difference as American’t. It’s called Eurowasteland. So much for shinny things or green grass that can be blinding. Obviously it’s an extreme exaggeration but let me tell you, the differences across the Atlantic are only in the mass quantity of little things. All the big stuff is the same. Eurowasteland has nothing but cars and television. My tough luck, eh. The only solace I have is that, unlike other immigrants in this world, I’m pretty lucky. I don’t have people gnawing at the back of my neck to return to where I came from. And I don’t have to illegally pick tomatoes in order to get pennies to send back home. Without turning this into a polemic political hashing of stuff that I probably know more about then is good for me, let me get back to my rant on the ills of too much television.
From the vacuum of the eighties, and the years of mindless American’ts inability to adapt and perhaps avoid the perils of perpetual economic down turns, we are given a decade of emptiness the likes of which will hopefully never be seen again. Obviously I have to give the nineties credit for one thing. It did give us the tech boom, also known as the DotCom boom. But because the DotComs were as full of bullshit as all of the college degreed idiots that happened to get employment in it, well, look what happened there. And so. Enter the century of dystopia. What do we have – on both sides of the Atlantic – that is new and innovative and different than the past while the year 2000 moves onward? Nothing. We have cars and we have television. I guess in all that it’s time for Eurowastelanders to finally step and give the world something worthwhile. No? Not anything new in car technology? Nothing new in the area of manufacturing? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Except. Here it comes. There is something new in television. Eurowasteland, the place I ran to get out of Dodge because of how fucked up it is from so much television, has given the world Big Brother. Should we all stand up now and praise the gods and say thanks? Yeah, sure, why not, baby.
The saddest thing about our third century a.d. is that generations-anew are not going to be able to quit this stuff anymore. The human brain just can’t take it – it’s been empty for too long. The mass communication phenomenon has come full circle with the popularization and commercialization of reality – pumped to you on screens. Those who envisioned it, probably not too far from other authoritarian or totalitarian emissaries of the oppressors, really did their homework with this new turn of drilling directly into the brain. And here’s the thing. The ruling idiocrats will grow up ignorant to what the term”big brother”really is about – thanks to television. Potentially – and in the syndicated future – millions of humans will associate two important words with some dip-shit television show instead of one of the most significant literary achievements of the 2oth century. Wow. All I had to worry about when I started hating television was whether or not I Dream of Jennie was gonna stop being syndicated which meant there was nothing more to jack-off to.
Obviously I am on a lost crusade bringing this to light. But then again, I experience joyous Schadenfreude knowing that so many fellow humans watch so much krapp on the television these new days. This type of Schadenfreude isn’t the same Schadenfreude one gets while watching television, though. You know that spiteful, jealous and mind-boggling hateful mindset that makes up most of the western world. No. It’s a good thing that my Schadenfreude is 180 degrees different than yours. Seriously. To me, Schadenfreude does one thing and one thing only: it enhances the intellectual eliteness upon which I walk and elevates me and my user-friendly ego to heights humans of yesteryear couldn’t even imagine. What a sad state of existence, you say! I say get through it (this life) as fast as possible and with as little boredom as possible. Fuck television. This is the end.
Wow. Where’s Jerry Springer when you need him? For now we have gone from main topic “television” to Schadenfreude. But I assure you. All will be well, the pretzel trying to be a circle will close.
- Jerry Springer: The Opera – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Schadenfreude – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia