Once upon a time, in the land of television, there was good programming. I remember once there was a special on George Washington, a multi-part series at that, and I learned a lot about how a man that hadn’t been a very good officer at all for England faced down that nation and began a new one. I learned a lot from nature specials that featured Great White Sharks and how they dive down so deep they could not possible be true cold blooded creatures.
Then came Honey Boo Boo.
Right begin her was one show after another that highlighted half literate folk making a living by killing things. This was History. This was Discovery. This was reality television. And it sold very well indeed.
What people didn’t know or refused to acknowledge was none of this was really real. Each scene where you had some gap toothed ain’t got no nothin’ hillbilly in a jam there was at least three or four cameras on him, or her, and there were sound men, production people, and a few million bucks worth of equipment out there with them.
Ever notice that there is always some sort of clock ticking on every episode? Something has to happen right now. For a bunch of people who make a living on their own time they sure are in an awful hurry once a camera starts rolling, aren’t they? The clock is ticking on production of the shows. The people there, straw hats and slang slingers, have got all day long to do what they are doing. They’ve been doing it for years.
Now educational television all looks the same. Hard working semi-literate bumpkins embarrass the hell out of themselves in front of viewers who just cannot seem to get enough of hick chic. Why let’s just roll one of those black and white plastic cows over by the pink flamingos we have stuck up by the mailbox and throw down a hoe down ya’ll.
For every long bearded millionaire with a coon dog sleeping on a waterbed on a yacht there are another five million hicks who look just like him, and are wearing shirts with his photo, or his dog’s photo on it, and living in a pieced together single wide on their in-laws back yard over by the pig pen. You’ll find them glued to their wide screen televisions and hoping one day they too can make a living by killing things and speaking a dialect only found in people who graduated in the top 100% of their eight grade class.
This dream is their backup plan just in case they don’t win the lottery.
Of course, television has never been very much more than a vast cultural wasteland and it isn’t likely to change. The few bright spots are candles lit in the darkness of inner space, where thoughts are chased away like mosquitoes that bother us as we try to rest in the evening. The relaxation found in watching ignorant people making a living doing ignorant things cannot be overestimated.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.