Growing up in a culturally-isolated, but television-informed hometown, TV was our lone lifeline to the “real world of Manhattan Shopping and gritty police procedure,” so like all of my peers, I was a passive, slack-jawed viewer. At University I spent less time watching TV so when I returned home I approached it with a new ironic appreciation. I might have overdone it with this irony though, and after a couple of years had more or less burned out on television.
I’ll never become one of those “I don’t own a TV” people. I always wonder: don’t they watch sports, the news, Charlie Rose? TV isn’t all bad if consumed sparingly.
But over this Christmas break I’ve had more free-time than usual so I’ve watched more programming outside these usual staples of my television diet. Here are a few notes:
I’ve always hated Proactiv commercials. As a teen with acne it was torture to watch them. There’d be some jerk saying, “Now that my acne is gone I can go outside again.” In recent years I’ve been surprised to see them netting a higher quality of celeb endorsement. First it was Jessica Simpson during the height of her short-lived tenure on the A-list. Now it is the grand poohbah of celebrity frivolity himself, the great Justin Bieber. This is upsetting because he will have that much greater of an effect on teen psyches and soon Proactiv will become so profitable they will have Barack Obama himself endorsing their foul-smelling snake-oils (and snake lotions, and snake refining masks).
I’m amused by the catchphrase “It’s not delivery, it’s Delissio.” I made a Delissio pizza the other night, and I recited this phrase not as an affirmation of Delissio-quality, but as an indictment. It works either way. I would like to see a series of ads where the Delissio recipients/victims express this statement with grave disappointment. If I attended a pizza party, wherein pizza was promised, and someone tried to stick me with this cheap garbage (it’s actually prohibitively expensive, so by cheap I mean in terms of quality), I’d shout out, “This is not delivery, this is Delissio, shame, shame, SHAME!”
Reality television is quickly becoming darker. And I’m not just talking about the ugly misanthropy of Bridalplasty. The History Channel has moved beyond their endless Hitler content and are now focusing exclusively on our impending doom. An estimated 90% of their programming is apocalyptic in nature. There are dozens of one-offs like 7 Signs of the Apocalypse–if it’s not The Nostradamus Prophecies, it’s the frightening Aftermath in which scenarios as sunny as: “World runs out of water/oil; Sun burns us all; Earth stops spinning” are dramatized with great gloom.
By the same token jail-based reality programming has become increasingly popular on The National Geographic Channel. I’ve always been interested in jail culture and wanted to get a taste of it without actually going to jail. Now I can get all the sexual assault paranoia, homemade knifings, and dismal guard behaviour I can handle by proxy. It’s a golden age we’re living in.