19 June, 2007

Something else I don't understand

While at the hotel for the AP reading, I was treated during the evenings to cable TV. I didn't watch very much of it, and what little I caught was... well, disturbing. It certainly gladdens me that I don't subscribe to cable TV at home, even if that means I only have reception for four channels:

  • NBC's affiliate,
  • CBS' affiliate,
  • a station with religious programming (usually featuring nutca—uhm, "financially successful preachers"),
  • MPB, the local affiliate of BBC Wes—uhm, "the Public Broadcasting Corporation".*
Usually that means nothing interests me on television. Naturally, we don't get ABC or Sci-Fi, which means I can't watch Lost or Battlestar Galactica until they come out on DVD. It's just as well; I have work to do, and a family to care for when I'm not working.

Anyway, my roommate was interested in a show that I won't name. The main protagonists are trying to break into a highly profitable distribution business that just happens to be illegal. Last night's show began with the female protagonist in passionate throes with a man who is not her husband.** Her youngest child wakes during the night and, hearing something, goes to look into her room. What he sees apparently spooked him more than the monster under the bed, since he ran back to his room.

His mother, who in the meantime has concerns that her boys have a good father figure, discovers that her amour owns a gun, which he keeps in a drawer next to his bed. (Or something like that.) Questioning him, she learns that he is a member of a government organization whose duty is exterminating the very business she's trying to break into. This, of all things, she considers grounds for breaking off the relationship.

Around this point, I remarked to my roommate that,
I can't understand the mentality where you sleep with someone without knowing that much about them.
I didn't think this would be a terribly controversial observation, but my roommate was none too impressed with it. Unfortunately, I don't recall his reply, so I can't present it here fairly.

Despite his objections, I reiterate my incomprehension of that mentality. This is different from saying that I don't understand the allure of someone you don't know, let alone the likelihood of falling into bed with someone you don't know on occasion. I can understand that; we humans are given to irrational behaviors, and frequently don't realize just how weak and stupid we really are.

But to embrace a reasoned mentality where this is considered an acceptable way of life? Especially after the last twenty-plus years of AIDS, or the last ten-plus years of drug-resistant gonorrhea? Sorry, but embracing such a mentality baffles me.

Yet the television is filled with it. My roommate also watched a cartoon about a duck, of all creatures, with, uhm, curious predilections for, uhm, an alligator, among many, many other curious predilections. He also passed through a film about restaurant employees, two of whom snapped a photo of a middle-aged chef unromantically involved with an underaged waitress or hostess or something, who incidentally made some half-hearted protests about the conclusion of this unromantic involvement, and quarter-hearted protests of the photo. That alone would have made me sick to my stomach, but that the filmmakers added to my repugnance by portraying the situation as something funny. I read some online reviews of the film, and many people said it represented employment in the food-service industry perfectly. I actually worked in food-service for some years, and I never heard of people who regularly committed statutory rapes in the toilet stalls. But, I was young and naïve, and even now I lack a reputation for knowing what's going on.

Anyway, if you're into that sort of thing, then cable television is just the thing for you.

Admittedly, network television is not much better. Seinfeld was often hilarious, but the characters on that show indulged in habits of intimacy that baffle me even more, and often turned me away from the show. This was more than ten years ago. At least Seinfeld portrayed its characters as weirdos—or so I thought. (Still pretty young & naïve then, although no longer in the food-service industry.)

Today, by contrast, people with such habits are portrayed as normal and admirable. People who exercise self-control, or try to take responsibility and clean up after their own failures, or those of others... well, they exist only to be caricatured and mocked.

Maybe I was just unlucky enough to catch the wrong shows. As you can tell from my last post, I haven't been in the most pleasant of moods lately.

*PBS: Supported by viewers like you, me (sometimes), and Toyota, Archer Daniels Midland, and more giant corporations than you can shake a stick at.

**Curiously, the intimacy with one's spouse that is open to giving life to children is probably the only sort of intercourse that is not depicted on television or in film. Admittedly, my sample size has been far too small to draw any accurate conclusions.

No comments: