Saturday, April 4, 2009
After reading Flinthart's post tonight about warning labels I felt compelled to post this old rant of mine...About six months ago I imposed a ban on commercial television in our house because I’d had enough of the sub-standard programming, the inane and patronising advertising and the dire state of news reporting. It was desperate attempt to restore some peace to the household. I know I joke a lot about being the number one candidate for the funny farm, but this was serious. I realized that I’d developed this maddening co-dependent relationship with the largest inanimate object in the house; to a point where I had to keep a spray bottle of window cleaner and the paper towels by the screen. This habit of verbally abusing the television had not only become invisible to me but was starting to scare the family. Even the TV thought I was a jerk. It all started when programmers decided that cautionary tales and other vague predictions of doom and gloom should be considered the highest form of entertainment. Let’s have a look at a typical week of news and current affairs. On Monday we have dire warnings of obesity underscoring random shots of headless fat people minding their own business in the Queen Street Mall. Tuesday it’s prostates and breasts being squeezed into imaging machines. Wednesday is ode to skin cancer day. Thursday it’s more useless analysis of the road toll followed by the dangers of compulsive gambling and passive smoking; and you can bet your bottom dollar Friday will be a party-themed discussion about binge drinking and driving under the influence. I really don’t know how we managed to survive before all this. At least back then the news had some bloody news in it. If there is one thing of which I am certain; this culture of dispensing advice and rampant fear mongering is turning the nation into candidates for the mental hospital. How on earth did we manage to survive before TV? Who was there to tell us to exercise more, to swim between the flags and to avoid walking into oncoming traffic? You had your Mum for that and rightly so. It’s hard to imagine how the Australian Army managed to recruit enough troops for Iraq considering all of the reports about the inherent dangers of war: things like 'shell-induced deafness' and 'grenade-throwing repetitive strain injuries'...“Yes the situation is looking terribly grim. I’m dug in on the north face with a chain-smoker, an obsessive-compulsive with ADD and Smith has been laid out with a bloody awful case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. We’re also down to our last tube of sun-factor 15. I really don’t know how much longer we can hold out.” Don’t you reckon it’s time for TV to get real? Just for once I’d like to hear some straight talking the next time the news decides to dedicate half an hour to the dangers of crossing train tracks. I want to hear the spokesman from Queensland Rail say, “Yep those kids are farking A-grade jerk-offs. Even my five year old has enough brains not to do that” I happy to report, that thanks to Foxtel, the TV and I are almost back on civilised speaking terms. Fewer commercials, a decent slice of Australian programming and re-runs of your favourite show from the 70s. This new and improved relationship with media got me thinking. George Orwell really was onto something when he wrote 1984 but little did he realize that whilst some people would tune into Big Brother, the rest of us would be watching re-runs of the Goodies…and loving every minute of it.