November 28, 2010 12:46:00 AM
Last week, a man in Black Earth, Wisconsin, was arrested for shooting his television set. Apparently he was unhappy with the outcome of the latest episode of "Dancing With The Stars." It seems that he had an issue with Bristol Palin''s performance. That moment of "appliance-cide" led to a 14-hour standoff.
Steven Cowan, the shooter, looks like a wild-and-wooly sort of guy. His Wilford Brimley mustache and down-turned mouth give him a cranky appearance. I imagine that most of the populace of a place named Black Earth may be a bit unruly, if not altogether antisocial. It is likely that many of them have an arsenal, as well.
But, let''s face facts, you can''t find fault with his taste. There are so many shows that deserve to be shot. Someone needs to put viewers out of their misery.
Yes, I know we can turn off the "idiot box" once in a while. But, we seldom do. Instead we sit, zombie-like, through hours of mindless drivel.
Television is a drug. It begins as a siren that seduces us with possibilities and tricks. The come-on gets our attention; then, we are sucked into a bottomless, black hole. There is no escape from that sort of hypnotism.
"Dancing with The Stars" is a prime example. The viewer is lured with the promise that they will be "dancing." Well, you may be dancing in your living room, but it is unlikely that you are partnered with a star. And, what about those "stars?" That designation is a bit of a stretch. Most are has-beens, or never-weres, or who-has-ever-even-heard-of-that-one? Hey, TV producers, you guaranteed us stars.
But, by the time we realize it was all a ruse, too late, we are hooked. This goes for so many shows. "Wife Swap?" Not really. "Charm School?" Totally without magic. And, of course, "The Real World," which is about as "real" as World Wrestling Entertainment. (Don''t get me started on that one.)
Isn''t there a law about truth in advertising? Perhaps it doesn''t apply to the cyclops that crushes brain cells. That one-eyed monster may not be the barbiturate, simply the method of delivery. It''s a bit like "guns don''t kill people ... " Well, you know the rest.
I do not intend to demonize everything on television. Indeed, television offers some shows that are truly worth viewing. OK, I can''t think of any right now. I''ll get back to you on that.
Steven Cowan has some sad and serious issues. Certainly he should not be the object of ridicule. But, haven''t we all felt like killing an appliance? From a sock-eating dryer, to a car that only starts at its perfect temperature and temperament, (seemingly) inanimate objects have the power to inspire rage.
Perhaps we are still a bit fearful of the movie-computer, Hal. Or maybe we distrust a mass of wires and anodes that are smarter than we are.
But, that argument does not hold true for the TV set. We know we are smarter. This machine, I suspect, may be trying to dumb us down. Heaven knows, exposure to that beast does nothing to make us smarter.
I willingly admit that I am addicted to stupid shows. I truly enjoy collapsing in my big chair, having waves of gratuitous stupidity wash over me. I don''t think, don''t react, just sit. But, every once in a while I wish I could say, "Hand me the remote ... and a very large gun!"
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. E-mail reaches her at email@example.com.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.
4. A Stone's Throw: Beware COLUMNS