We recently got cable after having just Internet for a couple of years, and I’m slowly easing back into it. Maybe I’d enjoy it faster if I didn’t spend weeknights cooking and getting stuff done; as it stands, I have either very little time to sit down and watch TV or very little ability to enjoy sitting down and watching TV because I’m too busy thinking of something else I’m supposed to prep, clean, or do.
But when I can watch TV – and it’s never the Netflix-type of TV that I consume voraciously, such as Doctor Who, Peep Show, Luther, jesus christ everything I like is British for some reason – I treat it as a time when I’m allowed to get a little bit braindead and I try not to care about it so much.
This is very helpful when it comes to advertising. You really don’t realize how much advertising there is until you stop paying attention to it for a few years. I remember having a conversation with Thomas once about how advertising definitely sucks, but at least it’s easy to ignore. Don’t like it? Don’t care about it. And I still think this is correct, mostly. I mean, I understand when I’m being advertised to during commercials. I understand when I’m being advertised to in magazines. I understand about product placement and point of sale and all of that other shit that makes advertising so insidious and seemingly sinister in its ability to make money. I understand these things because a) I’m not an idiot and b) I used to write quite a lot of advertising as a means of paying my rent. While I don’t think advertising is inherently evil – it can even be useful for some people, some of the time – I certainly think it’s excessive, and I’m more than a little disturbed by the rabid attention some people pay to commercials, such as those in the Super Bowl (on one hand you’ve got actual creative people making money by flexing their brains to produce these ads, on the other you’ve got a weird consumer juggernaut that pays grown men to develop brain damage).
But when you turn the TV back on after a few years, you realize “holy shit, everything is a commercial.” And then you realize “holy shit, companies think people are assholes.” And then you realize “well, they are pretty much assholes, but who would ever need this much stuff?” This is where it helps to be a little bit braindead. I can keep the bad stuff from really sinking in and eventually might not get too riled up about how many companies are trying to tell me I’m failing without their product.
Another great thing about going braindead in front of the TV is that I get to get drunk and yell at the Food Network again! And House Hunters! The latter being the best one to yell at because Graham can handle about 20 minutes of it before he gets pissed off and goes “I hate this show!” and proceeds to yell at the people with me.
I was recently surprised about this professed ability to go braindead, though, when a viewing of Role Models (a completely underrated movie in my opinion) turned into Billy Madison. And, um, has anyone else re-watched Billy Madison as an adult and been kind of…disturbed by it? And not by the obvious, either, like how Middle School You could have been so entertained by something so stupid (and sorry, early Sandler apologists, but it was very stupid, and aside from the Farley and Buscemi scenes, not even in an amusing way). I mean by Billy himself. Maybe I’m taking it too seriously, but as I watched Billy Madison, I was distracted by how Billy is obviously mentally ill and everyone seems to ignore it, and also at how Eric probably was the best choice to run Madison Hotels if all of the company’s 61,000 employees wanted to keep their jobs.
I mean, it’s not like I was expecting brilliance, nor did I expect some frat ass humor to hold up after this many years (Tommy Boy, on the other hand, completely holds up). But I eventually turned it off because it bothered me so much, because between that and the advertising, it seemed like the whole world had gone braindead, too, and not just temporarily so.