2/2/09

Culture Shocked by TV

I've got some nerve being shocked, and I know that. I just want you to know that I know that before I dive in. There.

I've been without t.v. for the past six months. Sometimes, I just don't have it. I had network t.v. all through my childhood, then I moved into the dorms at college and had free cable, and literally watched more television in year than I ever had in my whole life. I kept it on all night and slept to it. It was kinda pathetic, but what can I say? I was lonely.

Then I moved into my first house with roomates. One day, a tree fell near our house and our cable just went out. Just like that. I remember us all kind of wandering out of our rooms and being like, "What now?" I remember the exact moment, because I was watching, "Housesitter" and sitting on my bed. It was like waking up from the Matrix. From then on out, I didn't have television. We didn't have it in our next house together, I didn't have it when I lived alone, and so on and so forth. Jake and I only got cable when we moved back to Muncie.

Then, this last August, we just felt like we needed a break from it and the bill it brought with it every month. We can get everything we want on the internet, so we just shut the t.v. off. It was a weird adjustment, but then it became quiet bliss. We talked when he got home. We went to bed early instead of staying up to watch Conan or SNL. We cooked meals together and sat at a table while eating instead of sitting on the couch. Honest to goodness, I got fewer headaches. It was amazing.

We changed service providers recently, and they dangled free basic cable in front of us. Well, naturally, we took it. It was purely coinciental that this happened right around the time that LOST, MEDIUM, the Superbowl, and a handful of our other favorite shows and events were returning to television.

Now, I've been culture shocked before. I've been in and out of the t.v. world and I've been in and out of different countries, and believe it or not, the feeling of culture shock is all the same. It's just a lot of anger and annoyance. You know you shouldn't be annoyed, but you just are. This is where I want you to remember that I said at the beginning of this blog that I KNOW I have a lot of nerve saying I'm shocked. We live in the world after all, and nothing is perfect.

But did you know that what's on television is really sexist? Shocking, right? But it is. When we didn't have t.v. we just rented a lot of movies, and one of the last movies we rented was the literally abominable "Surfer, Dude"...which I could spend HOURS talking about since it was so horrible. But since we're on another topic, I'll just say that the movie made me SO angry that I took it out of the DVD player and kicked it across the room. Why? Among other things, it was hideously sexist.

I HATE watching female characters who are obviously written by men. They're either models or hot models or they're stereotypes (the "mean" one, the "sexy" one, etc) or they're dumb as rocks. There are always 50 men to one woman and they women are always about an average of 20 years younger than the men in the movie or television show. Yet they're mysteriously attracted to the lead male character. And they all fight over a man, and they're all vicious backstabbers. It literally makes me sick. It makes me mad enough to kick DVDs. Why do they even bother trying to pretend they're making a movie with a plot? Why not just go work for "Girls Gone Wild"?

Well, television is no better. I'm not saying it should or shouldn't be, I'm just saying, I HATE THAT FACT. Within the first quarter of the game last night, I saw a movie preview with two women dancing for a man while he watched, countless women being dumb and sexy, and all kinds of other RIDICULOUS and completely unrealistic portrayals of women. Usually whenever I talk about this, both men and women roll their eyes at me and tell me to, "lighten up". But it's like I said, I'm not crusading for change...I'm not that stupid. I'm just sick of it all. Sick of seeing it. Sick, sick, sick. So I guess I'll have the t.v. off about as often as I did when we just didn't have it.

In what dream world do these magical "for men only" women-bots live? Why is EVERYTHING on television built to appeal to adolescent males? (Don't answer that, I know it has something to do with money.)

Here's the kicker, I have perspective. Honest, I do. I am NOT against the portrayal of women as sexy. I'm not even anti-nudity. There are countless women whose beauty I can appreciate, even women who are considered way over-the top Hollywood beauties. Salma Hayek and Kate Winslet, Bettie Page, Rita Hayworth and Angelina Jolie, just to name a few.

In a weird way, those are women I feel comfortable knowing that men thought were attractive, because they look like real women. But I hate one-sided portrayals of women. I hate it when they package femininity like it's for a man and slap it onscreen and use it for a means to an end. I hate it even more that so many women buy into this idea and start ACTING like the women they see on t.v. and in movies. One dimensional, aggressive, attention-seeking bobble heads. It's insulting, even though I should "be used to it". I don't like it when they do it to men either. A la the disgusting Axe commercials or the old-timey Diet Coke guy. It's patronizing.

I hate seeing dehumanized people.

I feel like the last person in the world that this bothers. I feel like I'm in grade school all over again and people are like, "What's the big deal? Who cares?" But I can't seem to stop myself from getting emotional about it. I don't know why, I wish there was an off-switch. But it still makes me mad.