38 Seconds

That’s how long I was able to watch G4/TechTV [warning: link is slow and annoying] tonight before having to turn the channel out of disgust. As a frame of reference and to give an idea how much tolerance I have for bad television, I turned it to VH-1 and “Gameshow Moments Gone Bananas,” hosted by Ben Stein giving a “shout out to his ‘peeps’,” making the quote sign with his fingers around “peeps,” and was able to leave it on that channel for a good 12 minutes. I only had to turn the channel when they put on one of those “Where You At?” ads with the granny talkin’ all hip-hop on a cell phone.

How did we let it get to this? I watched a lot of television in the 70’s and 80’s, and as awful as it got, it was never able to overwhelm me with its sheer crass stupidity and desperation. I’ve lived through “Dynasty,” through Carrot Top commercials, through Pauly Shore’s popularity, through all the “I Love the 80’s” marathons. I used to look forward to watching DIC and Filmation animated series. I’ve even seen “Magic: The Gathering” tournaments televised on ESPN-2. I’m not exactly one of the cultural elite.

But tonight on G4, a loud young woman with bleached hair, a nose ring, and a Jem and the Holograms T-shirt was showing viewers a fan site dedicated to David Hasselhoff, and the whole hip, young, fun, and irreverent cast were pointing at the pictures and tossing paper airplanes about. And for some reason, this made me sadder than the entire Trinity Broadcasting Network ever could. It’s depressing enough that there’s even an entire network devoted to videogames, but when the human beings (presumably) on this network are even more shallow and obnoxious poseurs than videogame characters… it boggles the mind. It was as if the characters of a self-described “cynical” alternative comic had somehow come to life and taken control over a television studio.

I just realized that I would rather watch Country Music Television and UPN than the network that is trying to target me.

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