We’re in the middle of TV-Turnoff Week 2002 (April 22-28) and most of you don’t even know it. Don’t you care about The Children? Whenever any group of concerned (read: meddling) citizens who know far better how to run your lives than you do gets together, it’s invariably for the good of The Children … little bastards.
“By breaking free of TV, we can help our children to lead healthier and richer lives,” says TV-Turnoff executive director Frank Vespe. “That’s what TV-Turnoff Week is all about, and it’s why more than 15,000 people are working with us to make TV-Turnoff Week 2002 the best one yet.” All of this genius’ pearls of wisdom read exactly like that one, with a few “turn off TV, turn on life” nuggets sprinkled here and there for variety. Bottom line: He’s better than you, his posse is better than you, and every time you turn on the tube, a child is doomed to grow up to become a crack whore, game-show host or (worst of all) TV writer.
Could the evil influence of television explain the gaggle of bimbos who’ve lined up for a shot at The Bachelor (ABC; finale Thursday, April 25), a smug 31-year-old dickhead who describes himself as “charming, hilarious and intelligent,” though all five episodes aired thus far point to the contrary? Bachelor Alex Michael has wormed his way through an original cattle call of 25 inexplicably swooning bridal candidates down to the finale’s pair of bachelorettes in the course of five weeks. Smirk away—how many women have you dated in the last five weeks? He even nailed a couple in the “intimate overnight date” episode. Who could possibly turn off the TV with such quality programming on, Frank?
A better question would be, how did this slice of reality-dating crap become the closest thing to a hit that ABC (which these days stands for the Artistically Bankrupt Company) has had all season? You wouldn’t be surprised to see The Bachelor at midnight in syndication alongside entertaining-after-a-sixpack-and-a-Gordita dreck like Blind Date, Shipmates, ElimiDate or You Is My Ho, A-ight?, but in prime time on a so-called major network? How did this happen?
Easy: The Bachelor appeals to both women and men, but in very different ways. Women, of course, tune in to watch this parade of desperate skanks and rip them apart as they make doting idiots of themselves trying to make the cut at the next “rose ceremony,” wherein Alex dispenses long-stems to the “lucky” ladies who will be staying on the show for another week of hot ‘n’ stupid competition. As much as women like to decry the degradation and debasement of other women, they like talking girl-smack about oh-so-willing participants in degradation and debasement much, much more. (In Thursday’s The Bachelor: The Women Tell All, the 23 castoffs will reunite to dish about what a degrading debaser Alex is, so the female viewership will actually get to have it both ways—perfect!)
Men, naturally, love the idea of a bevy of hot babes who will do pretty much anything (on camera, even) to win the favor of a man who can turn around and discard them anytime he wants—face it, The Bachelor is porn for guys who can’t afford Cinemax. In their depraved minds, the big choose-a-bride finale is going to come down to Alex being unable to pick just one, as he bats his dreamy brown eyes and asks his two hyperventilating finalists, “So, have you girls ever seen the movie Wild Things?”
Is TV-Turnoff actually right in implying that we’ve been dumbed-down to frightening lows by this kind of toxic tube titillation? Do we really need to protect The Children from Alex and his love-seeking marital missile? Just try and switch it off … that’s right, you can’t.