Regular bleaders know I suffer from P.A.N.T.S – see blog 53 - but after this half term I realise I also have TITs - Television Induced Tension Syndrome. It’s no laughing matter – it’s debilitating, scary and left me at one point feeling panic stricken and hopeless.
I often find myself mesmerised by the thing when I am in a house where TV rules, but this half term, at mum’s, I submerged myself in an ocean of TV over a 48 hour period and came up for air feeling vaguely brain damaged.
The root if the syndrome is – my own fault – a decade and a half without TV so that now when I am in the presence of the beast I have no defenses. I have lost my tolerance, my immunity. I have friends who manage to filter out the 89% rubbish and find their way to the rest – but they are skilled beyond my abilities.
And TV has changed radically in the last 15 years. Any chance of regaining resilience is thin. Where the prisoners at Abu Graib were reduced to pitiable, babbling wrecks with water-boarding, sleep deprivation and threats of death – the same results could be achieved with me in a locked room with a large TV showing – for example – only soap operas.
What has happened to soap operas? I recall watching Coronation Street with my folks back in the day – and the most exciting incident would be Ena Sharples changing her hair net. Now they’re packed with implausible, fantastical melodrama, underpinned by mind-numbing tedium and dull stupidity. That’s quite a balancing act.
Films are unwatchable unless you enjoy 3 minute interruptions every 5 minutes to view gormless women smiling at their cleaning products or gasping and groaning about their hair conditioner. Are they experiencing some sort of far-away ecstasy or do they have haemorrhoids?
I watched the iconic Come Dine with Me and thought that, for light entertainment, in the reality genre, I could cope with that. But then you watch two or three or four and the screen begins to swim before your eyes as the same people types in slightly different hair/make-up/clothes – all slightly delusional – slightly socially inadequate are paraded in front of camera to make fools of themselves. Do cameramen have to take special drugs?
Anything on Kid’s TV seems to be psychedelic and hyperactive and with plots that are un-childlike.
I clicked around until I found an infamous piece called Geordie Shore. I viewed 10 minutes of something so gross – so at-the-dog’s-arse-end of what humanity reveals of itself - as to be actually depressing.
And yet – when people find out I don’t have TV and haven’t for around 15 years – (and am not one of those people who substituted watching on-line for watching ‘the box’) they behave like I am the one who has a screw loose.
“What do you do” tends to be the main reaction. Like I must be frantically trying to fill the 16 hours a day that cannot be officially designated to bed-time.
Followed closely by “What do you talk about?”
I realise that in a society where there are magazines dedicated to the ridiculous on-screen lives of the soap-opera characters I may be a wee bit out of step. Every has-been comic now has his own chat show and/or game show slot, every ‘news’ presenter is a personality, the private lives of the cardboard cut-out breakfast show casts have become hot topics, food is entertainment not nourishment and the more ghastly bits of your personal life you expose or the more private the flesh - the more likely you are to be ‘trending’ in any 24 hours of the nation’s attention span.
What do I talk about?
Not bake-offs, not Davina’s waistline, not who is the most debased character in Geordie Shore...
Hmmm – what’s left?
Check out the BGOTR 2-minute Soap Opera
As you can see – I didn’t waste half term!!!!