Thursday, February 13, 2014

TV. THIS is Entertainment These Days? You Have GOT to be Joking.

Apparently one of the best thing on TV, these days...
Last weekend was our anniversary, and since we are fortunate enough to live near a 5-star resort, we got a room, spent way too much on a lovely dinner (another story), and generally just relaxed and enjoyed a 24-hour vacation.  The resort itself was perfect.  I don't really feel comfortable with absolute luxury...I never feel like I fit in that environment, but I love a great hotel, and this one is just right.  Somehow everything is just perfectly done, at all times, but without being lavish.  So that part was awesome.  The king-sized bed was a bit weird, because we sleep on a double, so it was odd to feel a whole bed's worth of space between us.  ("How you doing over there?")

I wonder what they'd charge if I took home the pillows?
What got me thinking, though, was the hour and a half we spent lying in our perfectly comfortable bed with four awesomely real feather pillows, flipping through station after station after station on TV, hoping desperately for something, anything, even remotely worth watching.  What ended up happening was us...staring...with our mouths sort of hanging open, at what is actually ON TV--every channel.  And this wasn't even cable.  This is what's on regular TV, all the time?
This face, pretty much the whole time...

For those who don't know me (which is most of you--hi), I have lived most of my life without TV. I've had it in segments throughout my life, but never for more than about 3 years at a stretch. Quickly calculating...(*stares into space, counting on fingers*) here's what I remember.

We had TV until I was about 4 years old, so I remember Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers and The Electric Company.

We moved to Idaho from California when I was 7, built a house, and had no running water until I was about 9.  We also had no electricity until that house burned down and we moved back to civilization when I was almost 17 (also another story).  I had friends who I got off the bus with from age 7-9, while my mom worked at a restaurant they owned, so I remember after-school TV in the 70s...Flintstones, Little House, Gilligan's Island, Star Trek, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, and Grizzly Adams, (who was always remarkably clean for living in the woods with a bear).  If she worked longer, I remember the occasional Mutual of Omaha or Disney Sunday night movie, and *M*A*S*H.  Oh, and Dukes of Hazzard, and Loony Toons on Saturday mornings.

After we moved back to a house where the light switches caused light to happen (without lighting a match), and you didn't have to turn the shower on to get wet and then turn it back off while you soaped up, (to conserve water so my dad could take his 30-minute shower), we had TV for another year or so.  I mostly just remember Tom and Jerry before school, watching football with my dad and my boyfriend (Go Steelers), Full House, Perfect Strangers, and Family Matters.  "Did I do that?" is still a legit excuse in our house.

No TV again until after Shane and I got married when I was almost 21, when we had it for one year, then no TV or radio for 4-1/2 years while we lived in NE Washington.  While we lived there, our main form of entertainment was to lie on the floor and watch the 5-10 raccoons that would come every night to fight over the dog food we put out for them, right outside our sliding glass door.   Then we moved to southern Oregon, where we had cable TV for 3-4 years (my longest stretch), but I mostly just remember A&E and the History Channel and Barney for the kids.

Over the last 14 years back in Idaho, we tried cable for about a year, twice, but we haven't had it for years now.

MY POINT IS this.  Guys.  WHAT THE HECK?????

I always expect to be shocked and disgusted by what's on TV these days, but this was just beyond...   I'm (almost) speechless.  Here's a quick channel surf of what we saw:

*click*  Two guys staring at each other.  Suddenly one lunges for the other's neck.  With his teeth.  Ugh...vampires.  Really?

*click*  Extreme bloody closeup of a young man being beaten up or assaulted or something, complete with horrific sounds.

*click*  Cop show...

*click*  TLC.  "This giant gaping wound in your groin is going to need stitches" (zoom in on wound).  Ugh. Really?

*click*  What looks like 3 guys in drag, doing a talk show.  Wait.  WHAT?  Those were GUYS???

*click*  Forensics show about a man, his wife, and his two little girls who were murdered and left in their burned house...

*click*  Lawyer drama..."We have to back him up on this, or we'll all go down.  Right or wrong, we have to cover for him."

*click*  "Have you ever killed a man, Joey?"

*click*  A man opening a suitcase on his lap, which holds a gun, a silencer, etc.  He puts on black gloves...

*click*  Cop show...

*click*  Reality show (what ARE these??) where a group of people are screaming the F word at each other so often that we can't tell what's going on, other than it's OK to scream the F word at people..."F--- off.  Don't effing tell me you're my friend.  Shut the F--- UP!!"   Oww.  My ears...Way to stay classy, people.  No WONDER everyone thinks it's fine to scream obscenities and be rude to anyone who upsets you.  Apparently this is how we deal with other humans now, right?

*click*  Reality show where a male nurse is trying to deal with a man who speaks no English, who has wandered into the ER naked, except for a camp stove somehow stuck on--(not his finger).  No one can help him; the doctors are stumped, the nurses are hysterically laughing, the patient doesn't know what's going on, and the fireman they call to come try and help, is such a wuss that he has to sit down with a trash can between his knees and an ice pack on his head.  They may need to admit him now.  He might actually pass out...

*click*  Another reality show about a barefoot, bearded mountain man who lives in the woods and avoids people and civilization and only goes to town for candles and lamp oil once a year. Somehow, though, there is a camera following him around, so he can't be TOO shy, right?  We watched this one the longest (maybe because I related to him the best?), but it got boring watching him keep diving off the paved road (barefoot) to hide inside a stump when some "city folk" hikers tromped through his woods...or a car went past.  If it were a *real* show about a mountain man, it'd just be a blank forest.  Because *real* mountain men would never let a camera follow them around.  I know.  I grew up with one...Maybe that's where my dad's black helicopter phobia came from:  Maybe they were just trying to get real mountain men on camera.  We could've been RICH...but I digress.

You get the jist, though...

And between EVERY *click* is a commercial.  What we find stunning is that every commercial, no matter what it's for (and sometimes, it's actually hard to tell what they're selling), has the basic undercurrent of nonstop sexual innuendo.  Every.  One.

Shampoo commercial:  The girl appears to be naked in a field, but her hair is great.  Also, they actually have the hashtag on the screen that says # getnaked.   Huh?

Beer commercials:  Well, duh.  You've probably seen enough bar scenes and wet T-shirt contests.

Various Valentine's Day commercials:  Naked girls in high heels, holding giant strawberry signs in front of them, advertising...I don't remember.  Fruit baskets? Chocolate dipped strawberries for $40/dozen?

An actual ad for an adult-products store.  On TV.  Before midnight.  I'm not prude enough to have never been inside one, but to have a commercial for it?  We were like..."Is this cable?  No. OMG.  Our kids are in the next room, with this same TV on."  *gagging noise*

Not to mention all the "stay tuned for" sneak peeks for shows that would be on next week.  I don't even...Just--wow.  Craziness.

They even managed to make fast food commercials into something sexy.  Which is...not...what I think of, when I think of what's in fast food, or who's eating it.

I could go on.  We flipped and flipped and flipped, and didn't end up watching more than glimpses of any one channel, hoping in vain for anything worth taking in.

We found not one thing.  Not. One.  Oh, wait.  Nick at Nite had reruns of "Friends" on.  Which I guess is what passes for kids' entertainment these days?  Okaaaaayyy.  *dubious frown*  Also, I think Gilligan's Island was actually on, the next morning, as we were checking out...

What I'm trying to say is this.  Of course, I understand there are (I hope) probably still things to watch on TV that are worth taking in, in terms of entertainment, that encompass humor, love, enrichment, history, the arts, science, cooking, Martha Stewart's way to do everything, etc.  What I do NOT understand is how THIS steady flow of just absolute trashy garbage is OK.  Is this what's streaming on everyone's screens, for how many hours a day, average?  And we wonder why our kids are turning out the way they are??

It's like the boiling the frog analogy we've all heard.  If you put a frog in a pot and turn up the heat, it will boil to death and not jump out, because it's a gradual heating up, but if you throw him in the boiling water, he'll bail...yada yada.  

Having never sat through the gradual escalation to nonstop trash and violence, you can't believe how shocking it is to see what passes for television programming now.  What's next? Real gladiators again?  Actual murders? (or, do we already do that? I'm pretty out of touch.)

I don't even know how to end this post.  With a plea for everyone to please, please, stop?  Ask yourself, what are you (and your kids) watching?  Ask yourself if you'd feel comfortable watching it with your mom?  Your grandma?  Your pastor?  Look around.  Get off the couch and do something with your kids.  Read a book.  Learn about history.  Go for a walk.  Ask you spouse how their day was, and actually TALK about that.  Remember talking?

We laughed about it, there in the hotel, and finally turned the TV off, but really, it's just sad that this is what our country is doing with their spare time.

If you want to change your life--people, turn off your TVs.

wow-- I started out writing this, just wanting to say "wow" about TV these days, and it turned me all emotional...

Miss you, little buddy.


  1. The reality shows bother me the most. I don't watch them, but I've seen enough of them to know they represent the worst of us.

    We have TV, but haven't had cable in years. I will admit to watching violence, but it's mostly over the top supernatural type stuff. I can say that the older I get, the less I can tolerate the gratuitous's upsetting.

    Your story is fascinating. I mean the bits and pieces I know of your childhood. Not to discount the bad..but from what I've read, it's fascinating

  2. It's a long story (HA! Yeah! I'm hilarious!), but it's a really good story. I'm working on it. It will definitely include my dad falling off a roof in a bathrobe, and us moving to Idaho in 1977 in a 1949 panel van with doors that didn't open, with a GOAT IN A PLAYPEN in the back with us kids. Yeah...good times. ;0)

    1. I just remembered that it was a 3-legged goat named Rosemary, no less. She was easy to milk, though.

      Life really is stranger than fiction, isn't it? I better write this stuff down...

  3. I've been without cable more often than I've had it. I use streaming services now. When I was last visiting family, over Thanksgiving and then at Christmas, I'd be sitting in a room with the TV off and reading or listening to music and MORE THAN ONCE my sister would come in and be shocked that I wasn't enjoying the fabulous flat screen TV, and turned it on for me. Like, three times at least! Most people I know have to have it on at all times. Even to sleep. I am much more productive and calm with a reduced TV viewing life. Plus I don't miss paying well over $100 per month for what is mostly a bunch of crap. Sometimes I miss being able to watch certain stuff, like the Olympics in Sochi, but ovrrall, at the end of my life, I'm sure I won't be kicking myself for not having seen this tv show or that. I read more, I do more than I would with tv on all the time.
    My music and my drawing and painting stuff, or an audiobook and yarn and knitting needles or a crochet hook , or a favorite magazine or book are just fine with me.
    Just found your blog today. I'm reading a few blogs on a regular basis, too, instead of TV and I think there's some cool social circles building out in the blogosphere.

    1. Welcome, fellow Steph with a ph...

      I know! I have known people who will come in the room and turn on a TV, like "Oh, you poor thing...sitting here in silence..." Like I don't know how to use the remote?

      As a rule, I never put on a movie, when I'm home alone. I am always busy reading or knitting, or painting, crocheting, etc., but I can't HANDLE the background noise of a TV or a movie. I just prefer no noise, even when I am alone. TV is just jarring, to me.

  4. Another Steph here! We have Netflix and like 5 channels of regular t.v., 3 of which are PBS. Sometimes I listen to the news while I'm cooking dinner, and I am horrified by the crap that is on before 8 pm. Sex, murder, sex, murder, and on regular channels. Not HBO, not skinimax, just NBC or whatever. Not even just the shows, but the ads for the shows, the commercials, everything. I like zombies and vampires, but I don't let my little kids watch that, and I don't want them seeing ads for Mistresses or whatever either!

    1. Hi, another Steph!
      I was just remembering, we DID find PBS in our clicking at the hotel. We were like "Yay! PBS--We're saved!" Then...Wait...It's another COP show, but with British accents. Not even Red Green? Really? *slumps back on pillow*

  5. I grew up in a Pentecostal extraordinarily strictly religous home, no tv, no secular music and barely any modern Christian music. Yes, I read voraciously (I was bored) played outside a lot, and was into arts and crafts. I am now unapologetically ADDICTED to TV. I still read voraciously (your blog, obviously) :) love to bake, do arts and crafts, play piano and sing, do outdoor stuff, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE TV.....I pick and choose what I watch of course and protect my kids from the bad stuff as best I can, but there is so much on my TV, at least what we pay for, that is well worth watching, IMHO. I loved your story about it though! I can imaging what a shock it must have been especially since you don't watch it often, to see what is on some channels! always give me a laugh. Still gonna keep on watching TV though... lol

    1. Too funny. I grew up the same way, with that worldly Huey Lewis and the News tape hidden under my mattress...

      Of course I miss Martha, and Food Network, and the History Channel, and A&E and all that. But ...WOW...what a shock to watch after a long time away. Shock and awe, baby.