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Tune it Out, Turn it Off, Dropkick the TV
by Mad Dog


For some reason no one likes to admit that they watch a lot of TV. Itís like having the phone ring when youíre asleep ó you can be so groggy you donít know what planet youíre on but youíll still deny to the death that you were woken up. 
Itís National TV Turn-Off Week (April 19 Ė 25) and I bet you didnít even know it. Donít worry, youíre not the only one, most of us are still getting over Easter and so focused on May being National Masturbation Month that we canít be bothered with any observances in between.

   I donít know how many people will actually turn their TVs off this week other than when they wake up on the sofa at 3:00 am to find it blaring an infomercial for lo-carb laundry detergent, but I suspect it wonít be many. Last year 7 million people participated, which sounds good until you realize thatís only 2.4% of the people in the U.S. That means 283 million of us were convinced we couldnít live without television, the very thought of spending an evening without it sending screaming hot Buffy withdrawal flashes through our La-Z-boy draped bodies.

   For some reason no one likes to admit that they watch a lot of TV. Itís like having the phone ring when youíre asleep ó you can be so groggy you donít know what planet youíre on but youíll still deny to the death that you were woken up. Donít feel bad, like drinking orange juice straight from the container when no oneís watching, itís something we all do. Yet even while none of us will admit to watching much TV, somehow we can all magically repeat what Simon Cowell said last week verbatim. Isnít osmosis a wonderful thing?


If we were honest weíd admit that the last documentary we watched was The Search For Pamela Anderson Leeís Implants and The Daily Show is our idea of news.
When people do admit to watching television they swear itís for all the right reasons ó documentaries, news, educational shows, and to see if theyíre the last living person who doesnít love Raymond. But if we were honest weíd admit that the last documentary we watched was The Search For Pamela Anderson Leeís Implants, The Daily Show is our idea of news, we firmly believe Wheel of Fortune is educational because it turns out you canít buy an ďNĒ no matter how much you insist itís a vowel in West Virginia, and we skipped all 17 CSI shows this week because the Home Shopping Network had a special on those cute ceramic ďIíd Rather Be Collecting SpoonsĒ thimbles weíve been looking for and, well, some things are just too good to pass up.

   Turning the TV off really isnít that difficult. A couple of years ago I spent eight months in Bali and I did it without a television. This isnít the sacrifice I like to think it was since even if Iíd had one I wouldnít have been able to understand anything they aired. There was a recurring rumor that an English language newscast existed but everyone who mentioned it said it was on a different channel at a different time, and the few chances I had to watch a TV during those times it was nowhere to be found. What I would come across were Indonesian soap operas and Chinese fantasy shows dubbed into Indonesian, neither of which were any more comprehensible than the guests on The Jerry Springer Show.


It let me catch up on a number of books Iíd been meaning to get to for a long time and, since there arenít any commercials in books, I didnít get up every few minutes to head into the kitchen for a snack so I lost weight.
   Going without a television did cause me to do something I used to do a lot of ó rearrange the furniture. Just kidding. Actually the only time I rearrange furniture is when I bump into it in the middle of the night trying to find the bathroom. The truth is that not having a TV did cause me to read, something I hadnít done that much of in years, mostly because I donít have much time, but also because Classics Illustrated hasnít released a new version of a Danielle Steele novel in years. But reading turned out to be good for me. It let me catch up on a number of books Iíd been meaning to get to for a long time and, since there arenít any commercials in books, I didnít get up every few minutes to head into the kitchen for a snack so I lost weight.

   If you still think being without TV is torture, be glad you donít live in Bhutan, a small country in Asia nestled between Tibet and India which no oneís heard of unless they watch the Travel Channel, and judging by its ratings that would put you in an elite group of six. They got their first TV station four years ago in the capital city of Thimbu, where all of the 40,000 people finally got the chance to watch repeats of Seinfeld four times a day just like the rest of us. By now theyíre probably watching an average of 15 minutes and 44 seconds of advertising each prime time hour just like we do. And their children will see between 30,000 and 40,000 commercials a year just like ours. Who says weíre not a great role model for the world?

   The next thing you know Bhutan will have a National TV Turn-Off Week, but that wonít affect me. Not because I wonít be in Bhutan ó though stranger things have happened in this world, even if I am hard pressed to think of one at the moment ó but rather because even if I am there I wonít care. See, Iím hooked on reading now, so Iím sure Iíll be too busy reading the Classics Illustrated version of Lady Chatterleyís Lover in preparation for National Masturbation Month to even notice.

©2004 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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