I haven't had my own personal access to Television in maybe two decades. I despise TV, and have had nothing but disdain for it since... well I don't know exactly when, but at some point I decided that it was the devil. I'm not against a good show, mind you. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the greatest TV show of all time. Actually, Firefly is quite good too. And Angel. And those are great shows because Joss Whedon created them, who is a genius. So I'm not a total TV snob. I believe that film can be art, even on TV. But art on TV tends to get canceled quickly, unless you're lucky. But my philosophy has been, for the past few years, that anything that is actually good, I'll hear about it and can watch it on DVD someday. That's how I discovered Buffy; I never would have chosen to watch that show, thinking that it sounded like the dumbest idea for a show on Earth. Especially because the movie was so bad. But I knew some people who really liked it, so I borrowed a friend's DVDs and gave it a shot. I was able to watch all 7 seasons of it without a single commercial break... which is the point I've laboriously been coming to.
Commercials are the devil. I hate hate Hate HATE them. In fact, I've been known to scream at them in disgust. I don't feel that TV programming is what is responsible for dumbing down America, although there are certainly plenty of shows out there that I wouldn't wipe my bottom with. Hell, if I was a personal Nurse for a quadriplegic Stalin I wouldn't wipe his bottom with them. Well ok, to be fair, I'd never be a personal Nurse for any quadriplegic, Stalin or otherwise. Gross. I'm just not that selfless a person. But still, you take my meaning. Next to commercials, aimless channel surfing is the next in line for most mind-numbing thing ever. Anyway. I feel that commercials, and most popular TV shows, are a way of making people think that raving lunatic morons are funny, or even normal. Like those Wendy's commercials where the black guy wearing a Wendy's wig is trying to convince people that they have a constitutional right to a better burger. I know, I know, it's supposed to be funny. Ha ha we're just kidding buy our burgers. But something about it makes me want to commit suicide inside.
So having said all of this, I finally caved and got cable. I did this because, earlier this year I was happily enjoying my HDDVD player when BAM! Blu-Ray won the High Definition battle, making my HD collection obsolete. No more new movies in that beautiful, pristine format I had so recently become accustomed to. Believe me, you have not seen Unforgiven, The Shining, or 2001: A Space Odyssey until you've seen them in HD. I could have made the switch to Blu-Ray, except that the cheapest player is still around $400, the discs cost like $30 to $40 a pop, and a few other reasons that you probably don't care about, but I do. HDDVD players were around $200, and the discs were usually around $20. Sigh. But so I got cable, because they offer some channels in HD, and I was really wanting to watch some stuff in HD again.
I haven't had it on much since I got it, since I don't actually spend all that much time watching TV anyway. I tend to watch a movie with dinner, and that's about it. But I've enjoyed a few things... I got to watch The Lost Boys in HD, and the other night I tried out the HD pay-per-view channel and saw The Golden Compass. Very nice! But last night, something happened which made me decide that cable in my house is a short lived phenomenon. Spiderman was on TNT HD, and I was all excited because I'd been curious what that looked like in HD. When TNT plays movies, they have commercial breaks. A commercial for a Stouffer's TV dinner came on. I was already irritated by the spate of obnoxious pandering-to-the-lowest-common-denominator commercials I'd been forced to sit through between segments of Spiderman, and the worst part is that they tend to play the same 10 commercials on every break, just in case you'd forgotten about their stupid product that nobody needs from ten minutes ago. Oh, I also have to say that the worst commercials to sit through (Well, they're all horrible. It's so hard to chose the worst, actually, that anytime I complain about any commercial it's going to be the worst.) are the chain restaurant ones where they show you large pictures of gross greasy things that come in food-like shapes and are supposed to be appetizing, but are in fact unbelievably nauseating, and are the worst reason to have HD channels.
(Keep in mind that these pictures, as disgusting looking as they are, are not even what the food you order will actually look like in reality. The actual food always looks limp in comparison to the ads. Gross and grosser. Blechh.)
So this Stouffer's TV dinner commercial came on. And it combined just about everything I could possibly hate in a commercial. It starts off with a shot inside of a moving car; Mom and Dad are in the front and three noisy brats in the back, eating some sort of take out and all looking generally miserable. Then the voice over comes on and says, "When did this become our idea of a sit-down dinner?" Several big gross photos of greasy Stouffer's TV dinners later, and a satisfied family sitting down at home to eat them, and I was screaming, frothing at the mouth, unleashing a stream of obscenities at the TV as though I had just been told I had to wipe Stalin's immobile ass. I mean, seriously, Stouffer's TV Dinners have the audacity to lament the disappearance of a sit down family dinner, and try to convince you that they offer a product which solves said dilemma!!? This is what is going to end us, I swear. The problem is is that people just pretend like it's no big deal to have to witness such towering banality, that it's just a commercial and of course it's dumb but it doesn't really affect me. But it's not true. People, you have no idea how much it affects you. Seriously, try not watching TV at all for a time; try turning off your cable for say 6 months. Then go back and watch some... you'll be appalled at the drivel you're made to swallow.
You might think that you can control it. You know, flip to another show while commercials are on, or mute it or whatever. But I'm telling you, having cable in the house is no different than keeping heroin in the cabinet for medicinal uses when William Burroughs is your best friend and drops by all the time. I don't have any TV addict friends who drop by to get a TV fix, and TV is an addiction I gave up long enough ago that it tastes like ashes to me now, so I'll keep it around for the moment, until I can find a better HD solution, but please. If you ever realize that I've relapsed into couch potatoism, please come over and punch me in the head really hard. I'm begging you, intervene. I think I'll be fine, you know. I gave up smoking and fast food. I'm sure I can keep away from idly turning on the TV for no good reason. I have plenty of methadone, I mean DVDs to get me through the more difficult moments. I'm just saying, you know, TV commercials are worse for you than smoking, fast food, or heroin, so I'm a little more nervous about it.