Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Real" Life Television

Oh, no, I'm getting a zit!"
"Well, he seems nice, but his nose hair needs to be cut."
"I'm losing my hair."
"She's too tall for me."
"Gosh his breath smells."
"Does this skirt make my butt seem big?"
"Oh man, clean your shoes off, you stepped in dog poop."
"Wait, before we leave I have to go to the bathroom."

These real-life adventures never occur on television. These are things TV characters don't have to worry about. Television is, after all, perfect. People are beautiful on television -- they live amazing lives and look great doing it.

I went over a good friend's house and he was watching "The Drew Carey Show" on CBS. Now this has got to be one of the most moronic shows I have ever seen on television. In one scene, the star, Drew, his two male buddies and one female friend were sitting in the kitchen talking. The girl was wearing a low-cut top that also exposed her stomach and an extremely tight miniskirt. I remarked, "This girl is only on this show for her tits." My friend was insulted, "No she's not, she's one of Drew's friends. You see, those four people are old friends so they just pal around together."

At that moment, what my friend didn't seem to comprehend, was that TV characters are not real. The images on television may look real, and the people look real, but they are just images. TV characters live in one dimension. TV characters are fictional. Television shows are fictional.

Now, this is not an attempt to insult your intelligence. Of course television isn't real. Everyone knows that. But how much does the world of television effect our daily lives? How much does TV influence your opinion of people? How does TV impact fashion, speech, and social interaction? This is what is meant by The Beautiful People Syndrome: that TV influences the way we view others.

The Beautiful People Syndrome is what happens when you watch too much TV. You begin to believe, or expect, regular people to act, behave, and look like television stars. Does TV imitate life, or does life imitate TV, or does both happen? Television images portray people as beautiful, smart, wealthy, quick-witted, creative, instantly compelling, and exciting. Television wouldn't be worth watching, for those who watch, if it wasn't unbelievably interesting.

In the book Amusing Ourselves to Death, New York University Professor Neil Postman explains how television has changed modern imagery: "It is implausible to imagine that anyone like our 27th President, the multi-chinned, three-hundred pound William Howard Taft, could be put forward as a presidential candidate in today's world. The shape of a man's body is largely irrelevant to the shape of his ideas when he is addressing a public in writing or on the radio . . . but it is quite relevant on television. The grossness of a three-hundred-pound image, even a talking one, would easily overwhelm any logical or spiritual subtleties conveyed by speech."

Postman goes on to explain that "on television, discourse is conducted largely through visual imagery, which is to say that television gives us a conversation in images, not words . . . You cannot do political philosophy on television. Its form works against the content."

After watching hours and hours and hours of television imagery, those "Beautiful People" will become burned into your mind. The handsome, pretty, skinny and witty characters on the show "Friends" are more famous than writers, poets, politicians and more important than teachers, policemen, or firemen. The characters on "Friends" or "Ally McBeal" live the lives we all should live -- and they don't even have to work that hard.

The Beautiful People Syndrome is attacking the psyche of television-addicted America. For a man, if you are not 6'1'', handsome and wealthy you are not ideal. Any woman who isn't bone-thin with a large chest certainly is below the standard. Television is warping the American mind. Unfortunately, the Americanization of the rest of the world may contribute to mind-warping worldwide. Everyone wants to be one of the beautiful television people.

What is the result of The Beautiful People Syndrome? A lot of unhappy citizens. Post-traumatic-television depression can set in after you realize that your life isn't as wonderful as it TV says it should be.

The ubiquity of television is transforming our lives. If you are not one of the "Beautiful People," you're an outcast.

"Television has become, so to speak, the background radiation of the social and intellectual universe, the all-but-imperceptible residue of the electronic big bang of a century past, so familiar and so thoroughly integrated with American culture that we no longer hear its faint hissing in the background or see the flickering gray light," contends Postman.

"The world as given to use through television seems natural, not bizarre," he says. "Our culture's adjustment to the epistemology of television is by now all but complete; we have so thoroughly accepted its definitions of truth, knowledge, and reality that irrelevance seems to use to be filled with import, and incoherence seems eminently sane."

I hope you know the truth. The trick is to make the truth your conscious and subconscious reality. The truth about the true nature of people: Beautiful People only exist on TV. Beautiful People only exist on TV. Beautiful People only exist on TV. Beautiful People only exist on TV. Make this your mantra. The reality is not as fun or glamorous as television. Rejecting the influence of TV imagery will set you on the path to enlightenment; and make real life so much more worthwhile.

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