Kevin Somers has a television addiction he'd like to tell you about.
By Kevin Somers
Published May 17, 2011
Flick. I'm born. Flick. TV's on. Flick. Change channels. Flick.
Television is fascinating. What's on, who's on, and who's watching what make TV as intriguing as the technology that miraculously, instantly beams sounds and images from every corner of earth to my ever-flickering screen. Flick.
Lucrative and globally omniscient, the airwaves are saturated with signals and a remote control allows me to sift through dozens of channels with numbing, hypnotic rapidity. Most TV isn't worthy of the technology and that's fascinating, too. Flick, flick, flick.
Television has made a small world more intimate, but just as detached. Not long ago, I might not have known about an earthquake in Japan. Now, I can watch the bad situation unfold live and feel their pain. Or, I can turn to a bad situation comedy and feel less of my own. Flick.
A oft-repeated clip on TV recently was the tsunami crashing into a nuclear plant in Japan. Every time it played, I wondered why they'd build such a facility on a vulnerable beach. It occurred to me; TV is also a compelling, perplexing combination of brilliance and stupidity that has far-reaching implications we're not prepared for. Sigh, flick.
I've had a relationship with TV my whole life. For years, I loved watching Bugs Bunny on Sunday evening, but the show's end meant the end of the weekend, too. I remember being altered by sadness when the closing credits started. Overrated Pavlov didn't need dogs, Dr. Ballard's, bells, and whistles to see conditioning; just children and TV. Flick.
Every school day, my brother, sister, and me would come home at lunch and watch The Flintstones, while we ate. Flickers hadn't yet been invented.
Lots of people like TV. Our great little neighbour, George, hurt himself recently and, looking for comfort, cried, "I want to watch my favourite show." I met a guy who quit his job to "stay home and watch TV" after 9/11 - I thought I was bad. Flick.
The first woman I ever noticed was Tina Louise, who played Ginger on Gilligan's Island. I wrote a poem about it. I've used it before, but TV repeats tiresome schlock tirelessly and I love TV.
From Gilligan's Island came my first love
Beamed to me from Heaven above
Ginger and I, a perfect blend
But she broke my heart every season's end
The Brady Bunch, of course, had three
The oldest was the one for me
Marcia drove me to the bend
But never replied to the letters I penned
I couldn't wait for Happy Days
I'd sit and watch with my eyes glazed
Joanie, so lovely, I'd often pretend
The spunky brunette was more than a friend
The Dukes of Hazard had a girl
Who took me right around the world
Daisy, my love, I can't comprehend
Why you never said 'thanks' for the things that I'd send
I almost fell for The Simpson's mother
Her beauty unlike any other
Marge, alas, I know now what I didn't then
This isn't real love; it's simply a trend
There is an entire series devoted to wallowing through homes unimaginably packed with garbage and filth. It's called "Hoarders" and it's repulsive. Flick.
Day after day, week after week, year after year, Maury Povich has performed DNA & paternity tests to determine who's fathered the children of his female guests. Flick.
Celebrity anything. Flick. NASCAR. Flick. Reality TV. Flick. Award shows. Flick. Wedding shows. Flick. Donald Trump. Flick. Mike Harris. Flick. Tim Hudak. Flick. Sarah Palin. Flick. Tea Partiers. Flick. David Sweet. Flick.
The recent federal election could not have had more discouraging TV campaigning. Soon, American commentators will be referring to "Canadian-style attack ads." They're effective, evidently. Sigh, flick.
I read that Baywatch is the most popular TV show, ever. Baywatch. Sigh, flick.
The Bachelor is as disconcerting as it is popular. Flick. There is a sensational show about a teenage mother, who shouldn't be left alone with a goldfish. Sigh. Flick.
The Sultan of TV Sleaze, Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Springer was once the mayor of Cleveland. Prior to being mayor, Springer was a city councillor until he was busted for using the services of a questionable "massage parlour." He resigned, admitted his mistake, won back his seat, and then, as we know, Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! conquered the world. How great is that, Jack? Flick.
Shamelessly willing to exploit anyone or anything, TV is a terrific vehicle to sell stuff: cars, drugs, soap, political parties, toilet paper, television, televisions are all advertised mercilessly. It is, I suppose, the point of it all. Flick.
There are endless shopping channels and infomercials supplementing all the ads on regular TV. Everything is delivered, so you no longer have to turn off the TV and leave home to get stuff. It's perfect for a society moribund from inactive-consumption. Flick.
It's playoffs, so there's a good hockey game on almost every night, which is nice. During hockey games, there is an endless parade of commercials for Viagra, Cialas, and big, manly, compensatory trucks. Snicker, flick.
Commercials are a curse, so I start flicking the moment there's a break. Unless, of course, the remote isn't handy or there's someone (like my wife, for example) who's complained repeatedly, vociferously about flicking and is threatening violence if it doesn't stop.
The new Toronto Sun News station ("Fox News North") is on channel 16. TSN is 15, so during hockey games, I've been flicking up to the conservative "news" station quite a bit; it's hilarious. Ezra Levant is particularly funny, especially when he's serious.
Ezra is my new favourite guy on TV. For moments at a time, it's been Bugs Bunny, Barney Rubble, Gilligan, Get Smart, me, Homer Simpson, Krusty the Clown, Peter Griffin, Stewart Gilligan Griffin, Borat, Hal Johnson, Russell Oliver, and the bearded guy from Canadian Tire commercials, but now it's Ezra. His Elmer Fudd shirt is off the charts.
Ezra reminds me of my worst professor at Clown College. On Earth Day, dancing, prancing Ezra, in his finest Fudd-wear and a hardhat, butchered a beautiful cedar tree with a chainsaw, which he handled like a girly girl, to prove he's a manly man. An awful clown indeed. Cringe, flick.
We endured eight years of Bush and The Harper Government (whose leader's name escapes me) has just won a majority. Yet, neo-cons, amongst the most affluent, pampered, overweight, overindulged, overcompensated demographic in history, screech, squeal, and scream ceaselessly about being victims. Victims of what?
It's like listening Hamilton's stadium debate, over and over. Flick.
Sun TV was particularly entertaining the night they were disseminating and discussing "breaking news" of "Happy Jack" Layton naked and naughty fifteen years ago. Flick.
At the same time, Unhappy Jack was appearing on other channels shuffling, stumbling, mumbling, and muttering, "Smear campaign, smear campaign," while sticking to his story.
If Jack really didn't know the "massage parlour" was a front for something sinister, he's not fit to run a carnival ride, but that doesn't matter, evidently: after the election, Happy Jack was back with a "moral" victory. The scandal is behind him and, without doubt, Jack is looking forward to more TV time. Flick.
This brings to mind former New York Governor, Elliot Spitzer, who railed against the trade, but was busted for using the services of a prostitute. The theme repeats as often Seinfeld. A Host on CNN, Spitzer appears to love himself and the camera in equally large, unhealthy helpings. He's harder to watch than "Hoarders." Flick.
There's a lot of political discussion and there's a lot of politicians on TV. People from TV go into politics and politicians go into TV, a lot, as well. Both fields, I suppose, attract a similar crowd. Flick.
I was on TV. We were recruited out of school. It was fun to do and I met a lot of interesting people, but it wasn't a good experience, overall. I didn't like being recognised in public or approached by strangers. You can't flick them away.
It was fascinating how people reacted to us, however, and provided interesting insights into the human condition. Jealousy and covetousness make many people behave poorly and I've never regained respect or faith in mankind. Flick.
One of the good things to come out of You Can't Do That on Television, however, is friendships made and maintained with Jonathon Gebert and Christine McGlade. Although we went to the same school, we congregated in different congregations, danced in different dens, flew with different flocks, gathered in different gaggles, huddled in different herds, paraded with different packs, partied in different parliaments, moved with different murders, and swam with different schools, so if it hadn't been for TV, they might never have had the pleasure.
Christine lives in Toronto and works for TVO. She was the impetus for this blah, blah, blog. Christine came to town recently for AgendaCamp. I went to the camp, took notes, and met with TVO staff, including Christine and Steve Paikin, with the intention of writing about the experience, but meandered flick, flick, flicking.
Christine hasn't spent much time in the Hammer, so we toured the great city. With my girls along, we drove through the grandest and grittiest sections of town and had dinner at B & T. It was awesome. Flick.
AgendaCamp host Steve Paikin was a whirlwind at the event; reading, typing, and talking. I had a few minutes with him, but during lunch, so I felt a little guilty. Nevertheless, he was accommodating and friendly. As expected, Paikin is as erect, alert, and quick in life as he is on screen.
Always well prepared for interviews, undoubtedly Paikin is a tireless worker. When I asked how he relaxes, he replied, "Work is relaxing. I like to work. I'm from Hamilton. I think it's imbued in people from this city to stay modest and work hard." True dat. Flick.
AgendaCamp hopes to engage more people in the upcoming provincial election. It's a big job and I wish them luck. It would also be nice if we weren't subjected to another barrage of attack ads.
Go, Andrea. Flick.
After considering all the other things I should, could, and would be doing if I weren't watching TV, I got sad and wrote a poem about it.
Life Versus Television
I'd like to make peace with The Middle East
And wherever there's famine, bring them a feast
I've got plants to be watered and palms to be greased
My oldest is sick and the youngest is sad
Dishes are piled and the dog smells real bad
I should make a nice dinner and be a good dad
There are books to be read and poems to write
There are friends I should meet and foes I should smite
There are songs to be sung and wrongs to make right
I should pick up the phone and call my dear mother
Or sit at my desk and email my brother
And remind all of them that we love one another
My teeth need a brush and then a good floss
The roof on the shed has been gathering moss
And it's full of old junk I should probably toss
I'd like to cure man of rapaciousness
And clean up the Gulf's big, oily mess
Then move to a planet where they do not know stress
I'd like to hatch schemes so we can pay less in tax
And reduce wants and needs because we're stretched to the max
But before I can start I've got to face a few facts
I want to think like a Buddhist and live like a monk
But I've got to fill up the tank and empty the trunk
And go out again to buy more precious junk
I've got trees to transplant and there're forests to save
I'd like to climb a big mountain and surf a big wave
I'm all out of Beer and in need of a should shave
I should keep out more cold and seal in more heat
I've got reports to be filed and deadlines to meet
I should reward my great girls with a small, thoughtful treat
I know some straight arrows I'd like to get bent
I should get on my knees and repent and repent
And take back the curses and voodoo I've sent
I should sow, so I might reap
I have promises to make and promises to keep
And kilometres to go before I sleep
And kilometres to go before I sleep
My list is long, dark, and deep
There are countless things I need to get done
Like clean up the yard and go for a run
Most are alright but some jobs ain't fun
I'm not certain what's wrong with me
Something needs work wherever I see
But I stay in my room and stare at TV
I got a cheap treadmill and put it in front of the TV, so now my wasted time is well spent. Flick, step, flick, step, flick, step.
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