Rural America Looks at TV

This article was written by a colleague of mine back in the day when I wrote a weekly column on the wonderfulness of being a city writer leading the country life. Live! From Paradise! was one of the most enjoyable gigs in my writing career, and I was crushed when Gannett Newspapers decided that Live! From Paradise Sound!, which would have been a continuation of the column about life in a small town in the Pacific Northwest didn’t float their boat.

Sonny Garrett, however, remains a highlight of newspaper writing and editing in the South. And even though he canned me, I’m a big fan, especially when he writes something like this, which proves to me with absolute certainty that he’s been reading my mind:

Sonny Garrett’s Odds & Ends: Must-see TV? Not in your wildest imagination

I’ve said it before, and undoubtedly I’ll say it again — I keep turning up the brightness on the TV set, but it doesn’t get any smarter. And from the looks of the programs coming this fall, the future isn’t looking very bright, either.

When some of the best things to watch are “M*A*S*H” reruns on TV Land and “The Golden Girls” reruns on Hallmark Channel, there’s little doubt we’re in Marshall McLuhan’s vast wasteland — all 400-odd channels of it. When an obnoxiously precocious child called Honey Boo Boo is one of the biggest sensations on the tube, we have, indeed, opened another lock on the door of the apocalypse.

Yes, I know I’ve flogged this horse before, but it still isn’t dead. It keeps coming back like “Friends” cast members, who won’t go away no matter how many of their new shows get canceled. For everything that’s interesting that comes on TV, there are a dozen programs and innumerable commercials that shouldn’t.

Does anyone really care about the softness of toilet paper? Or what purple and pink bears use when they don’t do it in the woods? And what’s up now with that “freshy fresh” commercial that goes one step beyond toilet tissue? I have this fear that one day we’ll turn on the TV and there’ll be a toilet paper commercial complete with live demonstration of its use.

And Flo, please, no mo’ Flo. Surely there’s a better way to sell insurance. She’s like a blind date who becomes a stalker, and no matter which channel you go to there she is with that shoe-polish hair and bright red Halloween wax lips smile. It’s time Flo joins the insurance-selling Cro Magnons in commercial extinction.

Again, the Kardashians. They’re still on TV, and not just the shows about them, but everywhere. Hardly a day goes by without this untalented brood of females famous for not obvious reason being on TV, mentioned on TV and wherever you look, or even talked about on radio. A few years ago, I had a subscription to People magazine as a bonus for a book store gift card my Kim gave me. It got to be a challenge to see how many pages I could go into it without seeing a Kardashian reference. I think 40 or 41 pages was the longest, and never was there one without a mention. And they’re still here. Somewhere, someone has been cheated out of their 15 minutes of fame by the Kardashians; a lot of someones, actually.

Read it all

Wait – as long as we’re on the subject, a collection of my pieces from that period of my life is HERE. And you can buy Sonny’s book at Amazon.Com. Now go on, “turn the page.”

EDITED TO ADD: Time to point out a harsh truth about being a writer. As my intro to this post indicates, no matter how successful a writer you become, your work still gets rejected, you still get fired, and – this probably isn’t such a surprise – you still die. I admit, though, that I’m hoping in my case it’ll stick at two out of three, at least for awhile.