Quit Watching the Show…me and television

I am not bothered by How I Met Your Mother ended…nor do I really care how any TV show ends. I can say it is about brain rot, I can say it is about my superior intelligence, or my mature tastes in entertainment, but in reality I don’t like TV because it bores me…or it makes me so fucking mad that I spit across the screen while screaming at it. I’m not even talking about political or media -related shit, I’m talking about prime time television and how it drives me absolutely stark raving mad. Really it is about how I don’t have a relationship with my TV thus I get bored or mad out of total disconnect. I am going to blame my dad.

From 1975-1978  and 1981-1983, I lived in Germany as a dependent. “Dependent” is now called “family member”…the US military is trying to sound less depressing or aggressive or dominant. So dependent meant that I was a child of and dependent on my dad. Because my dad was in the Army…we moved to wherever the Army sent us. For six years of my childhood, we lived in Germany. Yes it was cool, yes I have a strange adult addiction to Haribo gummis…yes “gummis” cause that is how it was written and pronounced in German. One couldn’t find Haribo gummis in the US until the late 1990s but I remember being a child in Germany and getting this fantastically delicious nastiness for a treat. Along with European gummi treats, I remember growing up on AFN TV…Armed Forces Network…and AFN was known during the 70s and 80s for being seasons behind on American prime time TV shows and extremely stupid commercials that today are seen as highly entertaining on YouTube. Because AFN was an extension of the US military specifically, and the US federal government generally…AFN wasn’t allowed to run ads by any commercial company…thus growing up for 6 years of my childhood, I never saw an ad for a new toy, a new hamburger1, or a new movie. Instead AFN used old B-grade movie scenes or bad animation to inform to ensure my dad had filled out his forwarding address paperwork before we PCS’d2, or that my mom had a power of attorney while my dad was deployed, or to think OPSEC3 while traveling about Europe…and these were the types of commercials that I saw on Saturday morning while the old, but still great, Warner Bros cartoons ran for 2 hours…Saturday morning cartoons didn’t get more than 2 hours because we only had one channel on our TV and that was AFN…so AFN had to attempt to please everyone…and usually failed to please anyone. So when it comes to TV and my childhood…it was pretty much old re-runs, bad government-made commercials, and odd cult shows that never really caught on here in America like The Prisoner which was this very weird and scary (to me at age 7) British spy show that includes the line “I am not a number, I am a free man” and this odd and horrifying white ball that chased the main character around…I can remember having nightmares about the big white ball…the Rover…as a child.

So yeah, me and TV aren’t exactly best of pals because during my formative years I spent more time outside…eating gummis and avoiding terrorists4 than watching the latest episode of the latest hit on TV. If I was watching TV…it was a season or two behind what was being shown in America and then only of the shows that the US military could afford to buy and show on AFN. Along with weird and outdated shows…there was the lack of choice…basically I assumed everyone as a kid spent time wondering if their dad’s ball cap would signal the Red Brigade to our Americanism while we were getting ice cream on a warm summer afternoon in Bad Nauheim, Germany.

Couple with the fact, that even though MTV and cable TV became fairly common by the mid-1980s, my dad moved us to a farm in Bum Fucking Egypt, Tennessee when I was 13 and my parents didn’t get cable (satellite) until I left for college…basically, I didn’t watch real TV (as we know it today) until I had basic cable in my dorm room in 1988. Follow that up with some time enlisted in the Army and then being stationed in Germany, as an officer, from 1995-1998…I have come to realize that TV…modern, up-t0-date television was not part of my life. Hell, AFN still existed in 1995 and the ability to get SKY satellite (a British satellite service) in your quarters in Germany wasn’t an option until I PCS’d in 1998 to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Don’t get me completely wrong…I have seen The Simpsons…and Dallas…and ER. ER is really the most telling because it started in September 1994 and wasn’t a huge hit until the following year. I had never seen an episode of ER until a friend started getting the VHS tapes of the 2nd season (fall 1995) from a family member while we were stationed in Germany…thus I started watching ER in its second season, and by the time I returned to the states, in 1998, I was two full seasons behind. Obviously, I quit watching ER. This finding out about a TV show, then seeing old episodes and then returning to the states and missing whole seasons to the point of causing you to quit watching the show was very typical in the 80s and 90s. Internet and re-run specific TV channels were yet to be invented…thus if you returned to the states after a few to many years, you had to either go and “rent”…actually go in a store and get a copy on VHS…or hope that a friend or family member recorded all those shows for you while you were gone, or do as I did…and quit watching the show.

Quit watching the show is how I have gone about TV ever since. Not only did I not have a childhood full of McDonald’s commercials…or Big Macs, but I had a childhood that was absent of up-t0-date cartoons, and as an adult, I had a life that was disconnected from the cultural touchstones that were known as Friends and Seinfeld. Neither of these shows only [italics for emphasis only] ran during my military assignment in Germany, but they both seemed to be at their height either right before, during, or right after living in Germany…thus I had no particular interest or knowledge of them when everyone else then (and now) talk about them. I just didn’t watch them…I never really knew what anyone was fucking talking about…I never got the inside jokes. I was either working, working and living outside America, or watching something that seemed a little less needy.

Yes, sitcoms…especially sitcoms targeted at general American audiences seem needy to me. The characters are almost always completely stupid or full of faults that cause you to watch them make one mistake after another…thus the sitcom and the characters need you to watch…I guess to feel better about ourselves or something. I never felt the Simpsons or Family Guy were that needy…yet they are full of stupid characters doing stupid shit…yet because of them being cartoons, they felt almost harmless. I guess you could argue that I have a stunted childhood that lacked an overabundance of cartoons, thus today as an adult I seek solace in them…or I am a typical immature male and would rather spend my time watching somewhat well-written fart jokes instead of watching 20- and 30-somethings endlessly talk about their fake and mistake-prone lives. I didn’t spend my 20s or 30s like those characters…so why should I give a shit about them.

In the end, that is truly one of the reasons I don’t watch much TV and why I don’t watch (or stay loyal to) sitcoms…basically I don’t give a shit about them or their lives. I am not sympathetic to fault ridden characters that never seem to learn from their mistakes. I don’t give a shit about characters that find themselves solving “problems” in 30 minute blocks of time…to make a similar problem the very next episode. After awhile TV shows feel possessive of my time and thoughts. TV shows feel needy for my attention. I don’t like needy…and I don’t like mistake-making, but never learning, characters. Of course I could be doing nothing more than continuing my obstinate refusal to fully participate in American culture since a significant portion of my life was not lived in America…and now, as a point of pride, I refuse to watch this shit.

How I Met Your Mother may be a great show, I have actually laughed during a few episodes I have seen…but in the end I don’t give a shit how it ended nor do I care what will be the next big thing on TV. Oh and you Walking Dead fans…yeah I don’t give a shit about that either…I get the fucking zombie shooting thrill of it…but the fucking human tragedy/drama…almost Shakespearean…thing that all y’all prattle about…seriously, get a life. [<see that is me being obstinate and prideful]

 

1. Don’t even get me started on how strange it was to be back stateside (that is what we called America…stateside) and seeing the overabundance of fast food chains…on military installations the best you got was Burger King because they had a government contract…I still refuse to eat at BK due to the amount of nasty hamburgers I had to eat there as a child in Germany.

2. Permanent Change of Station…or moved because your dad got orders for another military base…hopefully stateside.

3. Operational Security…as in don’t go out acting all American or looking all American and not expect some terrorist or spy to notice you…this was the 1980s so not only was terrorist bombings expected…they were fairly routine. Thanks Red Brigade.

4. Okay, that is an exaggeration…bomb threats were so common that they became part of life…so really I spent most of my time not worrying about things that were common or expected.

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