I’m a loser…which means I can watch TV in the daytime. I normally tune in to NHK or AWE, mainly because I dig the ‘real’ escapism vibe of their programming and the fact that during breaks in the shows we get to STAY in their universes. No loud, bombastic, annoying commercials to interrupt the flow. All the advertisements are for their own yet-to-air programs. One day though, for a reason that now escapes me, I decided to do something that I hadn’t done in a while and check out American broadcast TV’s daytime fare which is essentially just a cavalcade of people talking shit about people. Here is the diatribe that resulted from this experience…
You wake up to bright, shiny overly-made-up faces talking shit about celebrities who you wish you looked like, that transitions abruptly to judges talking shit about people who look just like you and your goddamn neighbors, from this you go to your neighbors sitting on a stage—hot, burning lights overhead—and a sea of SEVERAL MORE neighbor-lookalikes talking shit about them. Taking turns mind you?! Lining up?! Eager?! It’s like a roast of people only known for their problems. And once that’s all said-and-done and you think things couldn’t get any more miserable here comes five o’clock and some dreadful shit about what your REAL neighbors are up to.
To elaborate on the judge shows1 a bit…
They are like midday sermons. Their collection plates: the commercials offering their congregants ways to rectify the problems the judge just told them they had, as well as ways to rectify the problems rectifying your problems caused. It’s a veritable bazaar of pity-predators: schools that train you to be wage AND debt slaves, money lenders offering the same service just without the scrubs, then there are the TEAMS of guys out to mine your failing body for gold; with their ominous, portentous-ass music and bountiful library of ‘sad/pained expression’ stock images to really hit you in the man tits you got from taking whatever drug that just a year ago promised you the world.
Truth be told: We’re complicit in this madness…I mean I AM complicit in the madness. I did the debt-school thing…PROUDLY! Used to boast about that shit too… “I’m going to [BLANK] and majoring in [SOME SHIT].” I also pathetically STILL AM the type the sassy (they’re ALWAYS sassy, cartoonishly so) judge was referring to when she said something about not waiting for your ship to come in and making your own way…you do-nothin’ lazy-ass ni— You get the point. I even patronized comparable money lenders. Not the TV call-in ones, but the brick-an’-mortar-used-to-be-a-damn-long-john-silvers ones. Doing dumb shit like paying off cash advances WITH cash advances.
So basically…I’m just lashing out against the machine to create a distance between my bullshit and y’all. Trying to communicate an ‘I’m ABOVE all this shit. I’ve got an angle on things. I got it fig’d out.’ vibe. It’s all bullshit though. But if you like it that’s pretty damn cool.
Oh, and we don’t just blindly buy in to what we see. We’re REALLY not suckas like we want to believe. We see a personal value in what is offered. A narcissistic, I’m-tryna-get-to-JUDGE-status kinda value.
After spending WAY too much time in this world I wanted to run back into the arms of NHK. I wanted it to console me with its shows about cantankerous, but lovable cafeteria matriarchs who have served twenty-seven generations of hard-working young men, still charming as ever; told utilizing Pokemon-esque over-dubbing which gives every show a detached, real-life Studio Ghibli flick vibe. It could be a story about a sad, lonely businessman—real heart-wrenching stuff—but the voice they’ll give dude will sound like a diamond spirit salesman with eighty-nine eyes and tentacles for teeth—and it will skew your whole perception of the story. This, of course, is a big part of NHK’s charm. I also love how on the weekends their news segments last only last mere minutes. That way I get just fleeting glimpses of the “Fuck, how many people died?! Where’d it happen?!” world of constant-blood-and-death, then it’s right back to the biggest, most sparklingly HD-y-ist bowl of noodles you have ever seen.
Oh, and I can’t forget about the passive-aggressive fish-for-compliments that is Cool Japan or the deceptively, but delightfully snarky Lunch ON! Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t send AWE some shouts. What’s up Distant Shores and Christina Cindrich???!!!
1. When watching judge shows tune everything out and just focus on the people sitting in the gallery, it’s fun and relatively guilt-free to do because you KNOW they’re hoping that’s ALL we’re doing; well some of them—the ones with the everything-did look, sitting on purses that they filled the night before with old phone books, necks COMPLETELY stretched out, straining to be seen over the plaintiff’s shoulder.↩