Wednesday, October 17, 2012

TLC = The Loser Channel

"Take me to Amy Winter!"

Regards, Reality T.V. Reformers!

A large contingent of people on this planet are convinced that life on Earth will end as we know it on December 21'st, 2012.  Some believe that our world will be devastated in some manner, either by a black hole, a chain reaction of natural disasters, a solar flare or a collision with an Armageddon-sized asteroid.  Others believe that this sea change will take the form of a global revolution whereby the masses finally rise up, throw off the shackles of their oppressors and demand a paradigm shift.

Then there's another interesting theory which assumes that our planet was actually seeded with human life millions of years ago by a higher power.  As such, we've unwittingly spent the past two-hundred thousand years moving towards this date; our progress keenly monitored by invisible overlords.  Its believed that these entities adhere to a strict laissez-faire / "Prime Directive" sort of arrangement which prevents them from Etch-A-Sketching us into oblivion unless we completely bottom out as a race of sentient beings.

And let me tell ya, folks, given all of our miss-steps over the years we've come pretty damned close to bottoming out on several occasions.  There was that whole "Dark Ages"/Spanish Inquisition thang.  We've indulged in more wars then you can shake a skud missile at.  We continue to deny basic civil rights to people just because of their skin color, gender, age or sexual orientation.  A clinically diagnosed moron was in charge of the most powerful nation on the planet for no less then eight friggin' years.

Contrary to all of these setbacks, I still held out hope that we were all moving in the right general direction and making those hypothetical parent entities reasonably proud of us.  Sure, every once and awhile our inter-dimensional supervisors probably looked down on us and thought: "Okay, granted they're a little f#@%ed up sometimes but, hey, they've still got their hearts in the right place!"

But recently I've seen something that's seriously compromised my faith, to the point in which I'm now totally convinced that we've hit the utter nadir of human behavior.  As a result, I know that it's only a matter of time before our celestial taskmasters return to earth and reboot all of us with a song in their hearts (presumably this one, BTW).       

And what morale-shredding spectacle did I witness recently that could so completely and utterly shatter my faith in humanity?  Look, then, upon the face of madness and despair...

Before I proceed with the autopsy, let me just give you some context by telling you a little bit about the ethically bankrupt network that currently disseminates this televised abortion.

The Learning Channel was established in a joint effort by N.A.S.A. (!) and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (!!!) in 1972.  Its noble goal: to provide education though the widespread and all-pervasive medium of television.  Despite being privatized in 1980, the station continued to feature practical programming on such diverse topics as medicine, science, nature, home improvement, history, technology, cooking and current events.

When The Learning Channel's sister station FNN (the Financial News Network) fell upon hard times in the early Nineties, it was sold off to The Discovery Channel.  The new owners continued to foster educational content for quite some time but as their ratings began to dip a conscious shift was made towards the growing phenomenon of "info-tainment".

*HUUURRRKKK!!!*  Sorry, but that term always makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.   

The network's block of educational children's programming was the first to go.  I remember the network starting to piss me off in the late 90's when they began to feature what I could only describe as a series of "cradle to grave" reality shows.  Between A Wedding Story (1996-present) and A Baby Story (1998-present), the network began an extensive and rather insidious campaign to re-assure women that if they weren't married and/or pregnant (or preferably both) by the time they were thirty then they were pretty much failures at life.

Little surprise then that the network began to refer to itself as TLC versus The Learning ChannelHmmmmm, quick show of hands, how many people out there think that TLC stands for Tender Loving Care?

The network continued to excise educational content in lieu of sensationalistic crap featuring high-speed car chases, emergency ward trauma, killer tornadoes, and medical oddities.  When they weren't titillating audiences with exploitational garbage they were teaching them to be vapid, materialistic, superficial douchebags with a series of shows about such hot-button topics as home decor (like Trading Spaces from 2001 to 2008) and dating (the wittily titled A Dating Story from 2000-2002).    

In the mid-2000's the TLC powers-that-be started seem to have second thoughts about the direction of the network.  They briefly adopted the catch phrase "Live And Learn" and for one last glorious shining moment they began referring to themselves as The Learning Channel again.  But since responsible programming doesn't always translate into ratings, the network was soon completely awash with brain- dead reality shows and completely useless decorating programs.

The station really began its concentrated power dive into the dumper back in 2008 when it kicked off its "Life Surprises" schedule of programming.  Pretty soon every show seemed to fall into one of the following categories:
  1. Midgets on Vacation  Little People, Big World.  Little Chocolatiers.  The Little Couple.  Hey, look, small folks do the same things that average-sized people do, just with more steps and ladders.  What a f#@king revelation!  
  2. She's More Uterus Then Woman!  Hey, gals!  You too can be on television if you're willing to  turn yer vag into an echo chamber.  No show brainwashed more girls into going "Octomom" then Kids By The Dozen and John & Kate + Eight.  That is until Kids and Counting came along.  This last reprehensible piece of dreck came complete with a heaping side-order of Jesus Camp-style propaganda!  Hey, Jim Bob and can only keep your kids in an ignorance bubble for so long!  As soon as they catch so much as a sidelong glance at the internet they're gonna go completely Mickey and Mallory on you.    
  3. Can I Have Another Piece Of Chocolate Cake?  DC Cupcakes.  Fabulous Cakes.  Ultimate Cake Off.  Seriously, I like Cake Boss as much as the next guy, but TLC needs to be cited for single-handedly contributing to the North American obesity epidemic.  Fondant isn't a food group, people!  
Although you'd be hard-pressed to learn anything from the gems listed above, the next wave of TLC shows made 19 Kids and Counting look like Bill Nye The Science Guy.  Any pretensions to respectability were flushed right down the loo with the following electronic freak shows:
  1. Addicted A.K.A. "Sure I like to do whippets on the weekend by at least I'm not whacked out on crystal meth!"  
  2. My Strange Addiction A.K.A. "Sure I'm addicted to crystal meth but at least I don't drink my own urine!"  
  3. One Big Happy Family / My 600 Pound Life A.K.A. "Sure I'm big-boned but at least they won't need to cut a hole in my bedroom wall to crane-lift my beluga-sized corpse out when I die of heart failure at age forty!"
  4. Hoarding: Buried Alive  A.K.A "Sure I've got some clutter in my apartment but at least I don't have dead cats stacked up like cordwood the corner of my bathroom!"
  5. Abby & Brittany  AK.A. "Sure my life sucks but at least I'm not congenitally joined to my own sister!"  
Honestly, the last thing these people need is a dead-eyed camera lens stuck in their face, drawing knee-jerk "holier then thou" scorn from a nation of slack-jawed yokels.

Which invariably bring me to my final category:
  1. Toddlers & Tiaras A.K.A. Bitter Harpies Living Vicariously Through Their Creepily Pan-Sexualized Afterthought Daughters.
  2. Sister Wives A.K.A. I Got 99 Problems And My Four Wives Contribute Exponentially To This.
  3. Outrageous Kid Parties  "Now, we know how hard it is for some people to pay their cable bills in this tough economy but we're just gonna add insult to injury by showing you how little of a f#@k rich assholes care about that."  
  4. My Big Fat (Fill In The Blank) Wedding  Condoning racism and feelings of superiority in the viewer by emphasizing the worst aspects of a barely-understood culture since 2010!  
  5. The aforementioned Here Comes Honey Boo Boo A.K.A. TLC Tricks Oblivious Uber- Rednecks Into Providing Weekly Visual Evidence Of Chronic And Ritualized Child Abuse.    
The worst thing about Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is that our bar of self-respect has slipped so low that we're actually willing to legitimize their behavior.  For the first time ever, people are proudly "coming out" as rednecks.  This is even happening here in Canada, which is hilarious since our brief summers barely give our necks a chance to get singed.

It's like the word "diva", which was once used to describe stuck-up, prima-donna attention whores who were willing to do anything to make themselves look better.  Now it's used to describe a host of female singers like Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez.

Wait, bad example.  Lemme try that again...

Lately the term "redneck" has come to describe lovable shlubs who enjoy life's simple pleasures.  They cling stubbornly to their own myopic opinions, they're completely oblivious to the concept of self-assessment and they're perfectly content to exist in a world that extends no further then the reach of their own bloated appendages.  They like self-assertive music, wildlife-related fashions, non-threatening comedy, water-flavored beer and cars that are so awesome they only need to make left turns.  Sounds pretty straightforward, huh?

Sorry, but calling someone else a "redneck" is just about the worst thing that you can possibly say to another human being.  Especially if you believe, as I do, that the meaning of life is to learn new things, travel to different places, absorb disparate points of view and use these experiences to improve yourself as a human being.  As opposed to wallowing in sloth and ignorance.

Couple this with a strident-yet-mindless misinterpretation of the genuine societal ill of "bullying" and we've got a potential disaster on our hands.  As part of the show's promotional material, TLC routinely releases troll-baiting photos like this:

So, naturally, media outlets like radio stations pick up these photo and then plaster them over their Facebook pages and websites, inviting listeners to comment.  As such, is anyone really surprised when  people start sharpening their knives and throw out painfully accurate appraisals like "Pathetic", "Abusive", "Shameful", "Exploitative", "Sick" and my own personal favorite:


Since the act of posting this photo is akin to throwing an entire flat of Beggin' Strips into a pack of starving labrador retrievers, I really can't blame people for responding with such vitriol.  What I can't fathom is how some morons have come to interpret this as "cyber-bullying".

"Cyber-bullying"?  Seriously!?  The whole point of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is that these slack-jawed troglodytes are willing to globally humiliate themselves at a discount rate.  Frankly I'd be disappointed in my fellow human beings if they didn't call them out.  It's the whole point of the friggin' show, fer Crissakes!  If you're stupid enough to hang out on a street corner holding a 'Kick Me' sign then you shouldn't be surprised when your breath ends up smelling like shoe polish.

In spite of this truism, a deluded posse of young, idealistic, self-righteous parents (who are apparently more naive then their own brainwashed larvae) are shouting charges of cyber-bullying at anyone who dares to accurately refer to June Shannon as "a human thumb".  Really?  Seriously?!?!

Hmmmm, dontcha think that there's a slight difference between these masochistic yahoos and some poor gay kid in Junior High who's had his Twitter account routinely bombed with homophobic epithets?  Jesus, people, stop swilling the Kool-Aid and come back to earth!    

One final thing.  As much as I'd like to blame all of this on the conscienceless, greedy, corporate weasels in charge of TLC's programming, most of the blame should fall squarely upon us, the undiscriminating viewer.  The network pinheads succumbed to weakness and dumbed down its programming mainly because there weren't enough viewers genuinely interested in enriching, intelligent and informative programming.  They started to pander to the lowest common denominator because, ultimately, we vote with our remote controls and currently we're voting more Hee Haw then Reading Rainbow.

Please, I implore you: stop slowing down to gawk at these car crashes.  Don't even watch this shit ironically.

We have to prove that we're better then this.  

The very future of the human race depends upon it.

EPIC ADVICE  ♫♪"Just don't look...just don't look..."♫♪ - just don't look

EPIC SKIT  I used to think this was funny.  Now it's kind of a sad comment on society...

EPIC THEORY  Hey, it's no less ludicrous than TLC's fall lineup...

EPIC MOVIE  David Cronenberg tried to warn us about this thirty years ago.

WE FAIL AS HUMANS  Just check out this undeniable sign of the Apocalypse.

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