Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Interacting with Idiot Box and Its Executives

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Interacting with Idiot Box and Its Executives

Article excerpt

AS A PARENT as well as a human being, I am deeply concerned about all this violence and sex and nudity on television. Especially the nudity. Why can't they put it on earlier? A lot of us parents are asleep by 9:30 p.m. Why can't they show nudity when WE'RE watching? They could feature it in programs that children never watch, such as the network news. ("Good evening, I'm Dan Rather." "And I'm Connie Chung." "And I'm Bambi.")

No, seriously, I am deeply concerned about TV sex and violence, and so is the U.S. Senate (motto: "Working Hard For You To Re-Elect Us"). Leading the way by courageously holding press conferences is Sen. Paul Simon, who has a special stake in this issue because he receives TV signals directly via his ears, which are like satellite dishes, but bigger. (And before I get an angry letter from the Association of People With Unusually Large Body Parts, let me state that I, personally, find this attractive.)

As a result of this concern on the part of Sen. Simon and myself, I decided to attend this year's National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) convention in Miami Beach. This is a major annual gathering of TV executives, who are wooed intensively by people trying to sell TV programs. The convention is held in a huge hall filled with flashy display booths featuring lavish buffets, costumed characters, models wearing outfits that would look skimpy even on much smaller models, and Personal Appearances by famous stars such as - while I was there - Wink Martindale, Ivana Trump, Captain Planet, Burt Reynolds and Mr. Food.

The purpose of the glitz is to lure TV executives into the booths; they are then taken into elaborately furnished back-room deal-making areas, where they talk business while sipping complimentary beverages containing a chemical that temporarily renders them so stupid that they will willingly purchase programs such as "The Best of Love Connection," which consists of reruns of astoundingly shallow people recounting their dates with other astoundingly shallow people.

I'm kidding about the stupidity, of course. The TV programming executives are SMART to purchase this type of show. They are making Dumpsterloads of money, because we watch these shows. WE'RE the idiots. Not that you'll hear THAT from Sen. Simon. He's not about to say: "If you don't like what's on, TURN OFF THE TV, YOU MORONS, and let the Senate deal with REAL issues, such as whether federal health care should cover ear reductions."

No, he's not going to tell us that, and we're not going to stop watching these shows, which is why the TV executives are not going to stop buying them. The NATPE convention was full of purposeful, suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying people, frowning and talking - in hushed, urgent tones suitable for discussing nuclear proliferation - about shows such as "Biker Mice From Mars. …

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