In defence of mindless television
It seems the gloves have come off recently, and everybody is climbing on their high horse about the level of stupidity on television.
I’m not sure why there seems to be this sudden upsurge of feeling superior to those who tune in to such things as Jersey Shore—which seems to be a major culprit in the upturn—but it’s reached the point where it requires examination.
As though tuning in to the National Press Club Address somehow makes one less stupid than changing the channel to a ludicrously scripted bit of televised nonsense.
Even before the historic figure of the Court Jester, people have been finding entertainment in the hopelessly stupid for as long as certain members of society have been able to distinguish themselves from the general pool of stupidity around them.
Whether you have watched or are watching Big Brother, The Biggest Loser, The Hills, or just about anything screened by Australian television networks, it isn’t long before you realise that there is little entertainment to be found beyond mocking the stupid. If certain shows, like Jersey Shore, have as their only positive feature the audience’s ability to laugh along with the ‘you’re so stupid that you’ll actually let yourself be on this show’ joke within a joke where’s the harm?
We may have been rid of Sooki, The Situation, and the entire cast of Jersey Shore for that matter had we just left them on the ‘they’ll soon forget to breathe’ road of life. As long as they are more or less out of our way, isn’t that good enough? If the people on such shows somehow manage to remain unaware that they are only watched for comedic value, is that really a problem?
Isn’t it not knowing they’re being ridiculed a big part of the fun? These are the sorts of shows that remind me that I’m not cut out to be a television producer. If you pitched me the idea, it would never have occurred to me that any of these people would agree to be on the show.
You may watch these shows because you have a curious desire to watch things that make your skin crawl. You may even watch because there is a certain fascination. But whatever leads to your decision to watch, it isn’t the idea that here are some perfectly normal people with a bit of a hobby, and let’s see what their lives are like. No, much like the appeal of V8 Supercars—or any sport that involves high speeds—you tune in because you’re hoping that one of these people will explode before your eyes. Sure, it’s unlikely to happen, but on the upside, you wouldn’t feel so bad about cheering if it did.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, ‘Huh. Not the shows I watch’, but you might want to take a hard look at what you watch. Watching stupid people for the sake of watching stupid people is everywhere, and unless you’re exclusively watching scripted shows and the ABC you probably aren’t as safe as you think.
So listen, keep your stupidity snobbery in check from now on, and don’t think your viewing habits are as rooted in intelligence as you may think. Keep in mind that virtually all forms of entertainment in human history got their start with one guy saying to the other, ‘look at these idiots’.
Besides, some of us enjoy watching Jersey Shore.
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