Again: WHO's in Control?


Control Your Television!

The television set now consumes the entire saving in working hours by the western democracies since 1900.

- Andrew Oswald

I believe television is going to be the test of the modern world,
and that in this opportunity to see beyond the range of our vision,
we shall discover a new and unbearable disturbance of the general peace or a saving radiance in the sky.
We shall stand or fall by television - of that I am quite certain.

- E B White 1938

by William Steven Humphrey

Okay, first of all, stop writing and saying the WB's Jack & Jill is a horrible show, and that Antiques Roadshow (PBS) is perfect in every way.  I'm sorry, but I hate the fawking Antiques Roadshow!  And the reason why I hate the fawking Antiques Roadshow is because nothing ever happens!  It's just a bunch of fat old people walking around an airplane hangar asking so-called "experts" to appraise their 17-year-old packs of hot dogs.  Then they're all like, "Oh, my 17-year-old pack of hot dogs is only worth 23 cents?  Boo-hoo-hoo!  My granny gave me those hot dogs!!"  And the "experts" are all, "Well of course, you fat old idiot, what would you expect a 17-year-old pack of hot dogs to be worth?  Now, if you had an 18-year-old pack of hot dogs then we could talk!"

On the other hand, the WB's Jack & Jill (Sundays, 9:00 pm) is now a great fawking show, and I say "now" because while it still has the worst actors and scripts, it has become great - because of what I bring to it.  You see, friends, I have discovered a way to markedly improve even the worst tv shows - and I do it with the power of my mind.

Let's take Jack & Jill, for instance.  Now here is a show that, even though I've watched practically every episode, gives me little to no idea who these people are, or what they do.  What I've gathered so far is thus: the main characters are (natch) Jack and Jill, but see, it's the guy whose name is "Jill" (short for David Jillo-something-or-other), and it's the gal whose name is Jack (short for - I'm sure I don't know).  Anyway, they're apparently hot for each other, but he can't seem to figure out how to dip his chocolate into her peanut butter.

There are other people in the show, too: there's Simon Rex (yes, the old MTV VJ), and this other guy who looks just like Simon Rex (I don't know his name), and there's one blonde girl who I think used to be the guy Jill's ex-girlfriend, and another blonde girl who I think is the girl Jack's roommate, and she's supposedly a dancer who kind of looks like Madonna after three facelifts.  Okay.  So I think Simon Rex likes the guy Jill's ex-girlfriend (the first blonde girl), and the second Simon Rex likes the second blonde girl (the stretchy-faced Madonna).  Meanwhile, the first blonde is torn between the guy Jill and Rex (the VJ), while the second blonde (the girl Jack's roommate) is torn between Rex (the second one) and (because she's very vain) herself (also the second one).

As you can probably see, this show is so goddam confusing I've been forced to take matters into my own hands.  So in my mind I've given all these people new characters.  For example: The second blonde girl (stretchy Madonna) is actually a robot (which would explain her acting style) - but see, here's the thing... Nobody else knows!  And the two Simon Rexes?  They are actually the same person - with schizophrenia!  The first blonde girl is the product of a biotech firm that successfully spliced her genes with a frog, and as for Jack and Jill?  Well, Jack actually IS a guy, and Jill actually IS a girl!

Do You See???  Finally???  I've taken what was once a horrible show, and I've turned it into a brilliant show!  HAAA!  HAAA!  HAAA!  I have mastered the airwaves!  I control television!  I am the Lizard King!  I can do anything!!  (But don't ask me to do Antiques Roadshow, okay?  It's hopeless.)

Source: someplace on the Web

Humphrey thinks Antiques Roadshow is hopeless?  I'd like to add: so is tv and the people who think drivel is important enough to write about!  (This goes triple for any so-called "reality" show.)  However - finding out that someone bought a stale piece of toast on eBay for thousands of dollars recently DOES help to put things in better perspective.  You can have your brain vacuumed by most any medium.

Things We Can Learn From TV

bulletDuring all police investigations, it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.
bulletAll telephone numbers in America begin with the digits 555.
bulletBeds have special L-shaped cover sheets which reach up to the armpit level on a woman; but only to waist level on the man lying beside her.
bulletThe ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place.  No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building you want without difficulty.
bulletShould you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language.  A German accent will do.
bulletA man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating, but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.
bulletKitchens don't have light switches.  When entering a kitchen at night, you should open the fridge door and use that light instead.
bulletIf staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear.
bulletCars that crash will invariably burst into flames.
bulletStripping to the waist can make a man invulnerable to bullets.
bulletIf you find yourself caught up in a misunderstanding that could be cleared up quickly with a simple explanation, for goodness sake, keep your mouth shut.
bulletAny person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.
bulletA cough is usually the sign of a terminal illness.
bulletAll bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts, so you know exactly when they're going to go off.
bulletWhen in love, it is customary to burst into song.
bulletWhen confronted by an evil international terrorist, sarcasm and wisecracks are your best weapons.
bulletOne man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them than 20 men firing at 1 man.
bulletIf being fired at by Germans, hide in a river - or even a bath. German bullets are unable to penetrate water.
bulletLaptop computers are powerful enough to override the communication systems of an invading alien civilisation.
bulletMost people keep a scrapbook of newspaper clippings - especially if any of their family or friends have died in a strange boating accident.
bulletAll computer disks will work in all computers, regardless of software.
bulletPolice Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are assigned a partner who is their total opposite.
bulletWhen they are alone, foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.
bulletIf you are a hero, you never face charges for manslaughter or criminal damage despite laying entire cities to waste by your actions.
bulletYou can always find a chainsaw when you need one.
bulletAny lock can be picked by a credit card or a paper clip in seconds - unless it's the door to a burning building with a child trapped inside.
bulletYou can tell if somebody is British because he will be wearing a bow tie.
bulletWhen driving a car, it is normal to look not at the road but rather at the person sitting beside you or in the back seat for the entire journey.
bulletTaxi drivers don't require exact or even approximate payment - the first bill you pull from your pocket is always correct.
bulletHaving a job of any kind will make a father forget his son's eighth birthday.
bulletHonest and hard working policemen are traditionally gunned down three days before retirement.
bulletThe more a man and a woman hate each other, the more likely they will fall in love.

Source: 24 January 2004

Bloom Country

by Berke Breathed

Source: possibly The Charlotte Observer 10 - 15 years ago.

The Idiot Box

I wish there was a knob on the tv to turn up the intelligence.
There's a knob called "brightness", but it doesn't seem to work.

- Gallagher

A survey of the programs on tv was recently carried out in preparation for public hearings to be held before the Federal Communications Commission.

Science and informational programmes amounted to about 3% of one week's broadcasts.  But most of the entertainment programmes did not rise above the cut of two-dimensional formula productions.

A depressingly large proportion of the "entertainment" offered on tv was uninspiring, monotonous and ultimately derogatory of human dignity.

Source: Scientific American June 1951

A Country of Telly Lovers

London - British people spend about 15 years of their lives watching television, according to a new study, which says the addiction has affected their social skills.

A survey by the Movement for Christian Democracy says the statistic in Britain - a country renowned for its love of the indoors - was a particularly worrying sign for children.  Tv watching affected their ability to speak, think, sleep, form relationships and develop their own identity, the group said. - AAP

Source: The Dominion Friday 13 August 1999

Rise in Children's Viewing Due to Quality

Parental beliefs that children are watching more and more television are well-grounded, survey figures issued yesterday by the Television Broadcasters Council show.  But according to council executive director Bruce Wallace, a rising trend of watching hours since 1993 is not a matter of concern - it reflects the quality of programming.

The average time spent watching the box last year was two hours 48 minutes, slightly up on 1999.  The figure represents average weekly viewing of 19 hours 36 minutes - compared with the lowest weekly viewing figures during the past decade of 18 hours 33 minutes in 1993.

The only higher viewing hours of the decade were in 1998, when New Zealanders spent an average of two hours 50 minutes each day staring at the screen.  The council's figures show that the main viewing time increases happened among young viewers between the ages of five and 14 years and viewers over 55.  In prime time, between 6pm and 10:30pm, the biggest increase was among 15- to 24-year-olds, and a category of household shoppers with children.

"The increase is small but significant and clearly shows that the television is offering improved programming both in the evening and during the day," Mr Wallace said.  "The reality is we all want our children to lead a balanced life.  Part of that is watching television, leading to reading, new sensations, getting involved in new hobbies.

The figures were based on the PeopleMeter service operated by research firm ACNeilsen.

Source: The Dominion Tuesday 6 March 2001

Perhaps Mr Wallace has watched a little too much tv?

Memo to Parents

In an era when competitiveness is said to have more to do with a nation's educational success than with its natural resources, may we spare a moment's consideration for the best student in what may be the best university in the nation?  The University of California at Berkeley was judged the best university in the nation several years ago after a complex evaluation by the American Council of Learned Societies.  This year Berkeley's best student is Adam Joaquim Leite, who will receive its University Medal on Monday, signaling his position as "the most exceptional senior in a class of 5,550," the university reports.

The secret of his success?

Leite was raised without tv.  His parents, he says, "protected" him from selected parts of US culture until he was old enough to make his own decisions.  He doesn't own a tv now, doesn't plan to buy one.  As a boy and now a 22-year-old man, he has always read for recreation.  The only drawback to his upbringing, he says, is that "sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own culture.  I don't know the songs to Coke commercials or how to act or talk like Bart Simpson."

In the average American home, the television set is turned on more than 7 hours a day.  By the time they leave school, American students have spent more time with the tube than they have with the teacher - with all too predictable results.

Obviously, Adam Joaquim Leite has great talent.  Just as obviously, his parents - who raised him, by the way, not on a desert island but in Walnut Creek, California - knew how to foster it.

Source: Los Angeles Times date unnoted, "Education Watch"

Also see:

bulletYou Can't Get Away from TV - diaries of one family who tries tv for the first time and another family who does without a tv for the first time.  Both returned to their original states at the end of the trial week (of course), but each felt their experience had changed them a little.  (This is the main place this article is referenced.)  There's another cartoon about tv there - why not at least read that?
bulletAn Easy Lesson - more about homeschooling.
bulletTelevision Addiction - Excessive cravings do not necessarily involve physical substances.  Gambling can become compulsive; sex can become obsessive.  One activity, however, stands out for its prominence and ubiquity - the world's most popular leisure pastime, television.  Most people admit to having a love-hate relationship with it.  They complain about the "boob tube" and "couch potatoes," then they settle into their sofas and grab the remote...

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