Volume 93, Issue x

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Costner at home on field

Death in Vegas turns up a disappointing success

Miguel innovates classic Meringue

An idiot's guide to the idiot box

John Popper snaps and crackles

An idiot's guide to the idiot box

After a stressful week back at work and school, I stumbled out of bed Saturday afternoon and wandered into the living room with hopes of accomplishing only one thing for the day – watching hours of sweet, sweet television until my vision blurred and my brain numbed.

In general, I don't watch too much television. Even as a kid, I only relied on a few childhood staples every week, like Dukes of Hazzard, Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes. Being relatively unfamiliar with today's programming, except for Party of Five and a few others I'm required to watch due to my estrogen content, I was relying on hearsay to guide my way. Everyone screams about television lineups today being mindless, sensational and violent but, to be frank, that's exactly what I wanted for a lethargic Saturday afternoon. Things should have run smoothly. They didn't.

The first gem I found was a familiar one. A&E Biography was talking about the life and times of Henry Ford. I saw right through A&E's sugary coating to the vegetable of knowledge hidden within their show. I left the channel feeling a little uneasy about how close I came to being sucked into learning under the guise of entertainment.

I was confident that at my next turn I'd find the lurid content which parents and pundits are condemning. Unfortunately, I stumbled across the History Channel. Before the first commercial I had already learned how General Lee led the Confederate forces and how many died at the battle of Antietam. Damn them for not offering me a lesbian love affair or at the very least a "Final Thought."

After a thorough tour around the dial, I eventually came across such beauties as World's Dumbest Criminals and Real TV. The point is, I had to look for them amongst the many other shows which were sophisticated, interesting and even downright informative.

Today's television may have blemishes, but it also has virtues if you're willing to look. Many people vocalize a disgust for the idiot box, but they need to remember who assumes the idiot moniker. FOX has only established its multi-billion dollar media monopoly because there is someone, even millions out there watching.

When it comes right down to it, many people just aren't willing to admit they'd rather watch FOX blow up a jumbo jet to explore airplane crashes, than watch The Learning Channel and look at the migratory patterns of any given bird. Don't be ashamed, embrace it – or change the channel.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999