Friday, April 11, 2003

Written by Tia. I find it interesting that, unbeknowest to either of us, Toya and I posted today on basically the same topic. Makes you kind of wonder who else Fox pissed of last night. Doesn't it?

I blame myself really. I really should have known better. Let me explain.

Last night I was severely pissed off by the Fox Network. And as I’ve already stated, most of the blame lies with me. I’m usually not home on Monday nights. So obviously I don’t get to watch any television. But when I am home I usually plant it on the couch at 7 pm central time to watch Boston Public. And it has NOTHING to do with the fact that Joey McIntyre (formally of the New Kids on the Block for those of you born after 1988) is on the show. There isn’t much quality on television and Boston Public is one of the few shows on Fox that doesn’t make me want to throw things. Anyway, for the full 7 o’clock hour Fox ran teasers for the next episode of Married by America, which came on at 8 pm central time.

Before I go any further I must briefly discuss my disdain for “reality” television shows. In a nutshell, THIS MESS AIN’T REALITY!!!! Don’t get me wrong. I WAS a huge Real World fan. I was an avid watcher. I remember MTV running a marathon of ALL of the seasons the summer of my sophomore year of college. I got NO sleep. Well, I slept when they played the London shows. I love London. I think it’s one of the coolest cities in the world. But that particular cast somehow made the city look like Paducah, Kentucky. SO BORING….Anyway, as I got older I realized that the Real World wasn’t all that REAL. They didn’t work. They could pretty much do whatever they wanted with few to no consequences (Remember Stephen slapping Irene? The slap heard ‘round the world.) And let’s be honest, how real can any of us be with 12 cameras recording our every move? All that to say, these new shows aren’t remotely true to any sort of real life. Joe Millionaire, Man vs Beast, “I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of here!!!” (which by it’s very title negates any sort of realism) all point to one “reality”: Apparently, Hollywood has run out of competent writers, legitimate actors and responsible programmers. How else do you explain the current state of television? Now back to my story.

There is something in me that loves to watch people on television make obviously stupid mistakes and then marvel at their stupidity as they wonder how the situation went so terribly awry. So I guess that’s why I didn’t turn off the television when Boston Public went off. The Married by America clips had trapped me. As I watched the Billie Jeanne cry over her fiancĂ©’s behavior at his bachelor party I couldn’t help but be intrigued. How in the world could she be surprised, shocked, angry…anything? YOU JUST MET HIM 3 WEEKS AGO!!!!! And, you let AMERICA choose him for you. This is the same America that, as my roommate Toya pointed out, made pet rocks popular. These are the same people that made Vanilla Ice a star. For crying out loud, we wore jelly shows, acid wash and feathered our bangs like the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls. And you’re going to trust US to pick your husband?!?!?…I’m digressing again.

I knew that the carnage that would inevitably ensue would be too great to miss so I tuned in. The warning whistles should have gone off when the show started with a disclaimer that the show contained sexual content that may not be suitable for children. I came to realize that that was a gross understatement. The show started off pretty “normal:” Nothing too out of the ordinary. I know at one point we weren’t even watching it b/c we were too busy commentating. But then it happened. As the couples flew off to Sin City for bachelor and bachelorette parties, the bedlam commenced. I won’t go into details but there was stuff on the screen that I didn’t think you could show on non-cable television, especially before 9 p.m. The disclaimer should have gone something like this: “Due to the soft core lesbian porn and gratuitous sexual content of tonight’s show viewer discretion is advised. If fact, turn off the television NOW! If you have any respect for yourself run, run far and fast.” We should have known better. This is the same network that brought us Celebrity Boxing and Temptation Island. I guess we just wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. I just assumed that Fox would be mindful of the fact the children are still awake before 9 p.m. in the central time zone. Everyone does not live on east cost time. But I now know that ratings and sponsors take precedent of responsible media.

Where was that censorship that Eminem is always whining about? The FCC won’t let you be, huh EM? Maybe if you stopped making cds and starting making television shows you could speak more of your mind. B/C apparently, saying T&A is not acceptable but showing it is fine. Singing/rapping about any sort of activities with strippers will get you banned from the Wal-Mart music department, but females licking whip cream off of a naked FEMALE stripper on prime time television is A-OK.

How did we go from Lucy and Ricky sleeping in separate beds to the debauchery on Fox? Who’s responsible for this? Do the current crop of television execs have no morals or no children for that matter? I was horrified by the fact that my friend’s 2-year-old, who doesn’t go to bed until 9, could have seen a stripper wiggling her breasts, with digitally distorted nipples, in a man’s face. But we all know that the worst part about it is that as long as we’re watching, they’ll keep cranking out the current crop of sin and shenanigans.

So we know what the problem is. What’s the solution?
TURN OFF THE TELEVISION!! Shows get cancelled when no one watches them. When we choose to watch programs of substance the networks will be forced to sit up and take notice. When we stop watching the “ratings grabbers” they will eventually stop coming on. I don’t think we realize what kind of influence and power we have. As consumers, we control the fate of advertisers, writers and programmers. If you don’t believe me ask any advertiser why his company paid $1.5 million dollars for a 20-spot to run during Friends. Don’t be fooled by the car-crash syndrome. You don’t have to stop and look. ROLL ON!!! When it comes to the content of most reality shows, ignorance is truly bliss. Trust me on this one.

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