I rarely watch commercial television anymore, so if you want the inside scoop on entertainment-celebrity gossip and popular prime-time programming, look to some of my fellow bloggers on lohud.com.
I’m really out of it when it comes to this stuff.
But every now and then I dip my toe into the cultural cesspool of TV Land just to test the level of noxious decadence. It’s like taking a reading, a stool sample if you will, on the decline of the American Empire. We’re sinking fast, friends.
Why do I say this? Well, last night I decided to tune into “American Idol.” But only for about 20 minutes. That’s all the time I needed to become thorougly convinced that prolonged exposure to this utterly cruel and creepy show will lead to brain cancer in laboratory rats– and perhaps humans, too.
“Idol” is not about finding the next great singing star, not really. What it plays to is the worst impulses of human nature — a sick desire to see a parade of wretched souls who are visually unappealing as well as mentally deficient, humilate themselves before a national audience. It’s pure sadism.
And the contestants who can’t sing are either masochists who enjoy being ridiculed or they are delusional. Yet another possibility is that some of them are faking it, merely pretending to be talentless morons while the cynical “Idol” producers are in on the hoax. That wouldn’t surprise me in the least. And it would be fitting because then the utlimate dupes would be the millions of viewers who are gleefully driving the show’s ratings into the ionosphere.
But here’s another troubling thought that came to me as I was watching last night’s show. Some of these “Idol” performers could actually be mildly retarded, which makes them nothing less than exploited victims.
To be specific, there was a scrawny, bug-eyed kid, who tried to sing like Justin Timberlake and his weak voice and awkward moves made me cringe in embarassment for him. Somewhere out there in the great muddle of thwarted dreams this poor fellow has a mother who must have cried as Simon, the resident Brit and lead humiliator on the three-member panel of phony judges, laughed and sneered at him.
The hapless contestant, he said, reminded him of an animal in the jungle but he couldn’t quite come up with the species. Later, the kid thought he called him a monkey, but that wasn’t what old Simon was reaching for.
Lemur, I thought. Nick looked like a lemur. You wouldn’t treat a dog like this.
They laughed the kid out the door, and then for full comic effect the camera showed him walking into the sunset with another reject, a tubby naif with a falsetto who resembled Martin Short’s Jiminy Glick character and who was so obviously innocent to the scumbag ways of the world, that even the “Idol” sadists were compelled to go easy on him.
To watch this crap is to weep for mankind.
But here’s what really burned me. This morning, I tuned into the Fox News channel and the “beautiful” hosts, a narcissistic collection of two women and two men, recounted the great humiliation moments of the previous night’s freak show. Superior and smug, these empty suited men and coat hanger women. were. So perfect.
And how great it was for them and for the rest of us as well, not to be one of those poor dumb bastards who allow themselves to be “product,” packaged and psychologically castrated for the bored populace.
Ah, see, that’s what it is. An electronic carnival with freaks. Caligula, where are you?