or Not TV, What Was the Question?
by Mad Dog
I can flip through
more channels than Michael Jackson has prosthetic nose tips and still
end up watching a rerun of Blind Date Iíve seen four times or
an infomercial for a miracle spray that covers your bald spot.
||The TV networks are firing
up the publicity machine for the fall television season already and,
like department stores which only stock bathing suits in the winter,
heavy coats in the summer, and Ď70s inspired fashions in 2003, they
need to realign their calendars with ours. Otherwise how are we supposed
to remember when itís time to increase our Xanax dosage and stock up
on microwave kettle corn, the Official Food Oxymoron of the Year?
Itís difficult for me to get
excited. Okay, maybe impossibleís a better word. After all, I can flip
through more channels than Michael Jackson has prosthetic nose tips and
still end up watching a rerun of Blind Date Iíve seen four
times or an infomercial for a miracle spray that covers your bald spot.
You know, paint. But Iím in a minority and I not only know it, revel
in it, and proudly let everyone know about it, I figure it also means I
can file a lawsuit against someone somewhere for discrimination of some
sort. After all, what good is it being a minority if you donít get the
opportunity to use our legal system to get rich?
Obviously many people do get excited
about television, aside from the announcers on the promos who tell us
how incredible, funny, groundbreaking, and must-see the upcoming shows
are. How else to explain why newspapers devote whole sections to
television, including printing the daily schedule, listing the
eveningís highlights, and paying TV critics to write articles using
the same language they would were they reviewing stage plays,
literature, and museum openings rather than being punished and forced to
discuss Roseanneís re-adoption of her last name, how this seasonís
eight sitcoms featuring a single father having to raise his children by
himself are different than last seasonís eight, and the launch of the
new CSI Network, which will be showing all CSI shows all the time?
youíre an average American you watch over four hours of TV a day and
will see 2 million commercials by the time youíre 65. This may be a
contributing factor to whether a person winds up with Alzheimerís
Another way to gauge the importance of TV is to realize that
there are 780 television sets per 1,000 people in the United States.
While that seems to be a lot, weíre actually fourth in the world,
trailing such booming countries as Monaco, Bermuda, and the king of TV
sets, Christmas Island. Thatís right, little old Christmas Island
boasts a whopping 1,266 TV sets per 1,000 people. Yes, youíre reading
that rightóthey have more TV sets than people, which really isnít
that difficult since there are only 474 people on the island.
Interestingly, they donít have any TV stations, so they use the rabbit
ear antennas as Christmas trees. And boy do they hate it when people
like me make jokes about the name of their country. Actually, the
Christmas Islanders receive plenty of programming by satellite. And
canít wait for the day the CSI Network launches.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S. we have
1,500 broadcast TV stations to choose from. While this seems like a lot,
it isnít once you convert it to per capita, which is Latin for ďlike
the capital,Ē meaning itís statistical gibberish just like that
which they release daily in our nationís capital. We rank 48th in the
world for per capita broadcast TV stations, with a measly 0.1 stations
per 1,000 people. At the top of the list is Vatican City, which has one broadcast TV station per
1000 people. Of course they only have 900 people living there. It would
be 901, but the Pope never changed his legal residence from Poland, and
why should he considering he doesnít drive a car, vote, or need a
They have no broadcast TV channels in Andorra. They also
have no unemployment or military, and have the highest life expectancy
in the world. Is this a cause, or an effect?
If youíre an average American you watch
over four hours of TV a day and will see 2 million commercials by the
time youíre 65. This may be a contributing factor to whether a person
winds up with Alzheimerís disease but we canít be certain without
extensive research, which would require government grants. And me
finding out where to apply for one. Hey, itís my hypothesis, I should
be able to profit from it. Actually, itís very possible. How else to
explain why 59 percent of us can name The Three Stooges yet only 17
percent can name three of the Supreme Court Justices? Okay, aside from
the fluoride in the drinking water when we grew up.
Thereís a group thatís trying to remedy
this. The TV watching, not the fluoride in the water. Itís the
TV-Turnoff Network, the organization behind TV-Turnoff Week. For
the past nine years theyíve promoted a week in April when youíre
supposed to not watch TV. They say watching TV cuts into family time,
harms children's ability to read and succeed in school, contributes to
unhealthy lifestyles and obesity, and teaches people to think that shows
like 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter are funny.
might have a pointóa lack of TV may be a good thing. Take the case of
Andorra, a small country nestled between France and Spain which no one
except those who have taken a wrong turn on Highway A9 know exists. They
have no broadcast TV channels in Andorra. They also have no unemployment
or military, and have the highest life expectancy in the world. Is this
a cause, or an effect? Itís hard to say without extensive research. Which would
unfortunately cut into my TV watching time. And we canít have that.
Not with the new fall season coming up.
©2003 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them instead of--okay, in addition to--watching TV.