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Mar 16 2006

Twisty In TV Land, Chapter Two

Bert enjoying some forensic ungulathology
Bert performs forensic tests on an O. virginianus skull

Just as I once was amazed to discover that knitters make up half the audience of I Blame The Patriarchy, so was I recently shocked by the revelation that none of you readers owns a television, or that you do own a television but you never turn it on, or that you do turn it on but only to watch DVDs twice a year, or that you never turn it on because you store your copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves in it.

Who are you people, and how did you get the government implants out of your brain stems?

I’m sayin’, TV is the dominant culture’s self-image, instruction manual, and church all rolled into one. I must monitor their transmissions! If I don’t, a curious sensation of peace and contentment washes over me, and I start blaming the wrong things, like the weather, or my mother.

I have also found, in these weeks of chemically-induced insomnia, that TV makes a dandy soporific.

Over the past few days, while drifting in and out of naps, I have flipped through many a TV program, and I’m here to tell you, things aren’t looking good. Below find some of my patriarchy-blaming highlights.

38 seconds of an unidentified movie on Lifetime
. Melissa Gilbert, or her clone, has an eating disorder, or postpartum depression, or a miscarriage—it doesn’t matter which, since a made-for-TV-actress’s demeanor is identical in all chick-issue situations. Whatever she’s got, it has spun out of control, but she’s in denial. She’s become hostile and snaps at her husband “I just need some space, that’s all!” And the husband, a nice guy who is only trying to help, says, “Don’t shut me out!” And Melissa Gilbert bursts into tears. And the husband says, “Honey, maybe you should see a therapist.” And Melissa Gilbert retorts, “I’m not crazy, dammit!” and flounces off. And the husband cries out after her, “Can’t you see this is tearing us apart?”

Sex In The City
, the show about four hot women with shoe fetishes whose single purpose in life is to complete themselves with men. In this episode Charlotte actually sells herself in a pre-nup to her future husband, uttering the startling phrase, “I’m worth one million.”

An ancient Saturday Night Live
from the Phil Hartman/Mike Myers/ Chris Farley/David Spade/Chris Rock era. I’ve never seen an episode with this lineup, and am not surprised to note that it is sublime only in its lameness. I also note that, while nearly all the aforementioned male cast members have since gone on to some further success (even fat old dead Farley caused something of a stir with his gruesome post-mortem photos splashed all over the internet), I have never heard of any of the women players. Not a single one. Melanie Hutsell? Who the hell is that? Also, the musical guest is that boring little overrated wanker Springsteen, who, let’s face it, has written only one song in 30 years. My jaw drops to what’s left of my chest when he begins lurching around the stage jerking off the axe he pivots arrhythmically from his groin. The whole band, in fact, mimic this painfully spasmodic phallic stroking. They look like escapees from Bellevue. I mean, I’ve seen some lame guitar wanking rock legends in my day, but Springsteen’s song (“My Angst-Ridden Penis”) is so dull and his moves are so retarded I actually throw an object (Bert’s stuffed duck) at the TV.

A minute or two of some godbag propaganda channel
where women with bad perms and big glasses are saying things like, “Planned Parenthood is only out for your money! They’re trained to sucker in innocent young girls! They are not your friend! They’re responsible for all the murderous evil in the world!”

A show called “Bones” which, encouragingly, has a female lead who a) isn’t costumed in a cat suit and b) is supposedly some genius forensic anthropologist. But uh-oh, she is relentlessly patronized by Buffy’s former vampire boyfriend, who has morphed into a studly overprotective cop for this series. “I’m not letting you out of my sight until we determine the identity of the killer!” he declares. “I can take care of myself!” the genius forensic anthropologist protests angrily. I see where this is going, and nod off. When I come to, sure enough, there is the genius forensic anthropologist, on her knees in an abandoned warehouse, bound, gagged, whimpering, bleeding sweetly from her forehead, fetchingly chained spread-eagle at the wrists. She is being menaced by a psychopath who is of course about to cut her up alive and feed her to hungry dogs. Buffy’s vampire boyfriend saves her just in the nick of time. No matter how much booksmarts a chick has, she’s never gonna escape the chained-on-her-knees-in-the-abandoned-warehouse scene.

I try to imagine Buffy’s stud boyfriend chained on his knees in an abandoned warehouse, getting saved by the genius forensic anthropologist, and laugh myself back to sleep.

92 comments

2 pings

  1. Ms Kate

    Also, the musical guest is that boring little overrated wanker Springsteen, who, let’s face it, has written only one song in 30 years. My jaw drops to what’s left of my chest when he begins lurching around the stage jerking off the axe he pivots arrhythmically from his groin. The whole band, in fact, mimic this painfully spasmodic phallic stroking. They look like escapees from Bellevue. I mean, I’ve seen some lame guitar wanking rock legends in my day, but Springsteen’s song (”My Angst-Ridden Penis”) is so dull and his moves are so retarded I actually throw an object (Bert’s stuffed duck) at the TV.

    yes yeS yES YES YES!

    I am NOT alone! I am NOT alone!

  2. Kaka Mak

    LOVED this!

  3. Tam

    Hey, I remember an entire series of Buffy in which the Angel guy was chained up in a warehouse, or some sort of big empty building. For some reason, she had to chain him up without his shirt on, so he spent a lot of time writhing and gleaming while wearing only a pair of tightly-fitting black leather trousers…

    Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes, Angel getting chained up and menaced. Happened a lot in Buffy.

  4. Twisty

    Yeah, I’m not talking about “Buffy,” though. American cop shows never have scenes where American cops are femipornulated. And although I do not recall the Buffy episode to which you allude, I’m betting that Angel was never portrayed in a submissive BDSM pose.

  5. Pony

    TV alternative: Radio link
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/

    Bruce alternative:
    http://www.brucecockburn.com/home.html
    The new cd Speechless is amazing

    Who’s Buffy?

    10 years TV free, and six years prior to that no cable. Recently I found out I could watch DVDs on my computer and began with Michael Moore’s work, The Corporation (see website), The WalMart Movie, Super Size Me and all the foreign language subtitled films I can borrow from the library. Presently have Jared Diamond’s Guns Germs and Steel and Downfall, the German language film on the last days of the Third Reich.

  6. Kelda

    Well, some of us are watching UK Patriarchy. Actually, since we already have ‘UKTV Gold’ and ‘UKTV History’ ‘UKTV Patriarchy’ would fit right in there. ‘The Best of UK TV Patriarchy on one channel; no need to change over, it’s all here.’

  7. caroline

    um. twisty, do you recall that old seventies thing, the Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society who helped promulgate the tshirt with the phrase: A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. ? If we’re here reading you, you’ve gotta know we knit like they sewwed. heh. blame on, chica.

  8. Kat

    I second Kaka Mak – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

    All the “women in jeopardy, man to save the day” crap is just one of the many reasons I got rid of the t.v.. Intelligent women are always portrayed as extra-vulnerable because they think they’re smart. The dumb girl knows that she has to cower behind the guy and the smart girl learns it.

    It’s not like getting rid of the t.v. keeps the patriarchal propaganda down from a dull roar though. All I need do is turn on my radio, or step outside and see advertising. Hell, all I have to do is interact and there it is.

  9. Hattie

    Twisty: you have learned how to watch TV & get some entertainment value out of it. I’m going to be on Public Access TV soon in connection with a political forum I hosted. Too bad you won’t be able to view my media moment.
    I mentioned a few threads back that we have Netflix, a home movie screen, and an In Focus Projector, & that’s our media fix. What’s nice is if you order something execrable by mistake, you can just send it back & get something else. I found myself watching that Wallace and Grommit thing & could stop after only 1/2 hour of punishment. I much preferred the gross-out backup flick that we had on hand, “Shenanigans.” I admired the nihilism of it. If young people are put into crappy situations, why shouldn’t they behave badly?
    I confess to having eccentric tastes in movies. I cherish a few of the really good ones, hate the middlebrow ones, and prefer out and out bad taste to any kind of redeeming value. I’m old, and I loathe movies about cute old people. I like films about working class people in New England or Montana trying to live good lives ‘n stuff, even if they’re being excessively manly about it.
    And so on.

  10. wolfa

    As much as I am irritated by Bones fairly regularly (why, you might ask, do I watch it regularly? I do not know! I cannot stand the books, because the author cannot write), the female lead is usually the one who is instrumental in getting everything done, not Angel-as-someone-else. This one — I could see it coming, too — was out of character for the show, which I think has dismal ratings. These two facts are not unrelated.

  11. teffie-phd

    I’m one of those knitters, and I watch LOTs of TV. It’s what I do while knitting.

    I didn’t have cable for years because I would watch tv instead of writing my dissertation.

    Sure, most TV sucks, but I still watch it anyway.

  12. ryan

    antiques roadshow is beyond reproach.

  13. magikmama

    I do, in fact, watch television.

    Unfortunately, due to the insanity that is my local cable operator, I am cable-free, because I refuse to pick between packages wherein I can only receive 2 of the 4 channels I actually want.

    Thus, most of the shows you discuss I either never see or see them eventually when the DVD version hits my library.

    Yeah, Bones pisses me off.

    Oh – and clearly you have not watched enough Buffy. I can think of at least 4 episodes in which Angel was being held captive in a submissive BDSM pose. The best one being where evil Willow burns him with matches.

    I do believe this is the most I have ever posted on your blog. Odd.

  14. Pony

    teffie-phd do you know this site?

    http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter05/PATTpomatomus.html

  15. Twisty

    I believe I can reproach Antiques Roadshow.

  16. schatze

    Well damn! I was hoping it was an advert for the new Bert:SVU TV show. Kinda gives new meaning to The Golden Age of Television.
    Meanwhile, my Golden puppy grows, alarmingly big and fast.

  17. Burrow Klown

    Hmmm…that sounds so odd (haven’t seen that episode of Bones). The one thing I like about Bones is that she can and will totally kick someone’s ass. However why she never kicks Angel’s ass is lost on me (he so deserves it).

  18. lavalamp

    I own and watch a television.

    YOu left out the Dog Whisperer, wherein the little snappy dude has to coach excruciatingly stupid and self-involved humans to correct problem behavior exhibited by confused dogs these people don’t deserve to care for, and which, in most cases, has been caused by the aforementioned stupidity and self-involvement.

  19. redneckmother

    I haven’t watched television with any regularity in more than seven years. My last binge was during the “way nauseated” six weeks of my first pregancy, when I was on phenergan and emetrol. I would beach myself on the couch, nibble canned spinach, watch “True Stories of the Highway Patrol,” and weep at the dog.

    Now that I think about it, it’s odd that the experience cured me of television watching rather than reproducing.

  20. schatze

    Pony#14, did you see under the featured article “I wish someone had told me” on the knitting site http://knitty.com/ISSUEwinter05/FEATtoldme.html ? It offers this warning:

    “Watch out for skinny chicks modeling sweaters in strange, twisty poses.”

  21. ryan

    “I believe I can reproach Antiques Roadshow.”

    ?! Beyond boring, nerdy and, boring?

  22. Pony

    Good one.

  23. Lavoris

    Amen on the Springsteen! Along with Bob Dylan, one of music’s great patriarchal icons. Those exceedingly long, self-indulgent performances, which earn him the title “Boss” by his slavish male fans in the top posts of music-rag criticism, make him the Fidel Castro of rock.

  24. Jodie

    I have a TV and I have cable. Mostly because the 17 year old likes to watch the History Channel (this is the kid who reads Eldridge Cleaver and Karl Marx for fun), Animal Planet, Futurama, and The Simpsons.

    I have been known to watch The Simpsons reruns. So far, though, the TV hasn’t been turned on once in the last two weeks except to watch a couple of rental movies, “Memento” and “The Blues Brothers”.

    My parents had the TV on 24/7 when I lived at home, as did my exhusband when we were married. I find my now-quiet house to be blissfully peaceful. I suppose, though, if we have a tornado, I’ll have it on for the weather report except that I am always afraid the weatherguy will become so excited he will wet his pants.

    Once this kid moves out, cable will be gone. TV rots your brain.

  25. Ms Kate

    I have this strange karma where I end up on TV every now and then, and not for my usual shit stirring activities. A couple of weeks ago this happened, and, while I ended up with a kickass news contact who owes me one now, I had to actually turn my TV set on now and again.

    Worse yet, now I can’t get my teeth cleaned without a buzz forming. I can’t ride the bus without being stared at. The night they started overdriving the promos in the lead up to the story,(which they did throughout the oscar broadcast, or so I heard) I was in a bar with something like 20 wide screen televisions. 20 wide screen televisions with my ugly mug and nasal voice and a full pub full of folk realizing that THAT face was attached to a woman sitting at the bar. Malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich.

  26. ryan

    “?! Beyond boring, nerdy and, boring?’

    But are there any patriarchy problems? I love the show for it’s safe, calm tone. Like so much public TV, it soothes.

  27. danthelawyer

    Spouse and I have a TV, and actually signed up for the $12.50/month basic cable package to watch the winter olympics, which spouse loves. But there is such unbelievable crap on — as exemplified by the repeated ads for “Las Vegas” that bombarded us during the ‘lympics — that I’m pretty sure we’re going to cancel real soon. The TV will revert to its former state as a Netflix monitor.

    I find, oddly, that I don’t have the attention span for TV. I’d rather read. (!)

    And yes, I am a straight, married, white, male lawyer with two kids and a mortgage. But I really dig this site.

  28. Sylvanite

    The Buffy ep. magikmama is referring to is “The Wish” from season 2. Yes, I watch way too much Buffy. The Angel-chained-to-the-wall episodes were from season 3, and the shirtlessness was entirely gratuitous.

    Amusingly enough, I watched Bones for the first time ever last night (I was too tired to read the book I’m reading). I also found Angel’s patronizing overprotectiveness irritating. At least they blowed him up real good.

  29. CarolS

    How about the so-called History Channel? I just saw the breathlessly titled “Banned from the Bible!!” which discussed, of course in a sensationalistic way, the religious texts that were omitted from the standard form of the bible, mainly because they did outrageous things like stick up for Mary Magdalen’s status as a real apostle or show Jesus as a child working bratty miracles (“laugh at my father, will you? I’ll strike you blind!”). Great for a chuckle.

  30. wolfa

    I remain convinced that the reason they are turning Angel into a huge kjerk — all sorts of annoying stuff about him being a knight in shining FBI armor — is because no one watched the show when it was about Bones doing stuff and Angel tagging along, annoyed. (This could be because the show isn’t, in fact, very good.)

    ‘The Wish’ was a great ep, though it was in season 3, not 2, and to a large part it depended on knowing the characters already. (Which makes it no less a great episode, just less amenable to watching solo.)

  31. TP

    Dan, there are a couple of straight white males with kids here. It’s nice to see anyone who enjoys every benefit of male privilege reading this blog.

    I’ve had my eyes opened slowly and surely over the years, and find it very inspiring to think that I can free myself from some of the more obvious restrictions imposed on me by patriarchal order.

    Just try to say one little thing in defense of male privilege and you will get gleefully called out on it. It’s a humbling experience, and each time I shed a little more assumption and gain a little more insight.

    Having a daughter has given me a certain amount of investment in raising her as a person, not a girly-girl. My hope is that she will be at least as oblivious to the patriarchal urge to please men as her mother, if not more free.

    I’m not sure it’s my place to post a comment like this, but hopefully I’ve done no harm.

  32. whyme63

    Yeah, I know it’s a hackneyed line…”I don’t watch TV”. And it isn’t like I never have it on. But danthelawyer mentioned a problem I share–no attention span for TV.

    I will admit to a certain fascination with true-crime, forensics oriented shows, but even then, I can’t just sit and stare. I have to be pursuing some kind of handiwork, or I tend to get up and wander off, forgetting to return. And when it comes to the broadcast channels, I don’t think I’ve tuned in for anything but local news for at least 3 years–probably longer. Unless I’m sick, I’d rather play Cubis on my computer than sit with empty hands and an empty brain.

    PS– I only watched “Big Love” because you assigned it.

  33. Sophie

    I’ve never officially lived in a house with a TV. My encounters with the mesmerizing stupid box only happened when i went for extended stays at my grandparents. And I *was* mesmerized.

    I also happen to have been car-free for a few years now, which certainly makes me more alien, isn’t it ?

    I must confess I’ve knitted quite a lot a long time ago, but I’ve quit.

  34. Red

    Wolfa, I think the poor ratings are due to the show being really, really terrible. The lead actress looks hungry and is a TERRIBLE actress, she and Angel have no chemistry, and the supporting “character” actors are generic.

    I mean, yes, you’re probably right that there’s a corrolation between having a female lead who’s a smarty and poor ratings, but I tried to give “Bones” a fair shake and just couldn’t continue watching it. If I’m gonna watch a crime show, I’d much rather watch Kyra Sedgwick on The Closer. That lady has some talent.

  35. Red

    In fact, let me add that The Closer, with Kyra Sedgwick as lead, has been very successful – so successful that TNT has been showing the first season again while they film the second. Kyra Sedgwick’s character is smart as a whip, regularly shows up the men she’s working with, and part of the show is about her struggles with the patriarchy.

  36. Rene

    My parents were hippies who believed that TV rotted the brain, and my brother and I used to watch a lot of TV at our friends’ houses, where we would gorge on forbidden Wonder bread and Gilligan’s Island. We could pick out a few programs to watch at home, but we couldn’t watch it nonstop, as all our friends did.

    I got addicted to TV in grad school and never looked back. Now I watch a shocking amount of TV, from Jim Lehrer to the OC, and I blame post-structuralism and marijuana. Unfortunately, we don’t have cable. If we did, I’d probably forget to eat.

    We did go over to my mom’s house (she abandoned her dippy proscriptions a long time ago) to watch the season premiere of the Sopranos (loved the William S. Burroughs introduction) and I was kind of hoping that we’d watch Big Love, too, so that I could weigh in, but no: My mom, it seems, is addicted to the L Word. I watched a few minutes of it, but it seemed kind of dumb, like Sex and the City for the lesbian set.

    Rene

  37. Hattie

    “I believe I can reproach Antiques Roadshow.”
    I watch it at my sister’s place. It’s campy as hell.

  38. AntipodeanKate

    Sadly I too am an unreformed TV watcher. Mainly I watch current affairs, documentaries and some very silly locally grown TV shows.

    I would like to watch some drama and so forth, but since all they show on Oz TV is repeats of Law and Order and CSI, I can’t. Oh and Lost and Desperate Houswives, which are also appalling.

    Also, cable (we call it Pay TV) here sucks ass. It is horrible. It’s expensive and there’s nothing on except ‘Pimp my ride’ and home-renovation shows from around the globe.

    I do wonder why there are so many feminist knitters myself. I really liked the quote in Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘n’ Bitch about knitting being a way of rejecting the “the mass-produced and the male” and that seems to me to be the best explanation.

  39. wolfa

    Since when has good acting been important on TV (I mean, Angel can’t act at all, but his show was on for *years* — neither could Buffy, really)? And what lead actresses are not starving? I find that Bones and Angel have a reasonable chemistry, all things considered. It’s not the epitome of brilliant tv, but I don’t think it’s any worse than the average, either in acting or writing.

    It recently got much better ratings — #1 in the time slot — so it’s likely to be renewed.

    Sadly, the forum people at Television Without Pity lovedlovedloved that episode. I knew there was a reason I didn’t read most of the forums.

  40. Violet Socks

    Not watching TV definitely puts one out of the loop culturally. A few years ago I met a guy who mentioned “watching Buffy.” I had no clue what he was talking about, and felt a little alarmed. Actually I didn’t figure it out for another year, probably.

    I’ve never seen Buffy. I’ve never seen Friends, and wasn’t even sure what it was until last year with all the talk about Jennifer Anniston. I’ve never seen Sex in the City or the Sopranos or Survivor, though I’ve heard and read enough that I know what they’re about. I didn’t even know that cable news now comes with drum track until I was visiting my parents a couple of years ago…

  41. jami

    i tried to watch sex in the city once, and one of the shopping-fixated ladies was going to let a perverted shoe salesman have access to her feet in order to get free shoes.

    yet until today, i thought there was something wrong with me as a feminist lady for disliking the show.

    thanks, twisty faster.

  42. Jezebella

    I would never have passed my PhD comps without endless reruns of the Rosanne show as accompaniment to my “studying.”

    Here in Hee-Haw Town, if you don’t have cable, you have one, fuzzy channel. And it is NOT the channel that shows my New Orleans Saints getting their asses kicked every fall. Hence: twelve channels for six bucks a month, plus netflix, keeps me up-to-date on pop culture but does not provide enough distraction to watch for hours on end, flipping, flipping, and flipping some more. I’m convinced my attention span has been seriously compromised by all the drugs I did in college, so it’s really best to have a limited range of channels. Right now, my only TV addiction is Alias, which will end this season, and the recent production of Bleak House on Masterpiece Theater.

    Academics of the old school like to brag about their disconnect from pop culture, but anyone trained in post-modern, post-structural, post-post-neo whatever knows that popular culture is an important part of the culture we study.

    Oh, and the whole point of beginning this post in the first place: Antiques Roadshow, while addictive, is a thorn in my side. I work at a museum, and about once a week, somebody calls or comes by with some Objet they acquired bog-knows-where, and want me to identify it, appraise it, and give them a thorough history of it, a la Roadshow. What they don’t realize is that the Roadshow travels with a truck full of reference books and has a room full of internet-connected laptops that the experts use before filming their segments. My front-line staff is armed with a list of appraisers and a letter explaining that WE DO NOT DO THAT, and know that they should not call me to “just look at” whatever piece of roadside litter has been hauled in the front door this time.

    Hence, The Roadshow is reproachable.

  43. Pony

    Very nice to hear intelligent, thoughtful male voices. I say welcome. ‘Course, I don’t handle the null & void button here.

  44. kathy a

    darn, i was hoping for a bert post, but this one gave me that good laugh i needed!

    like redneck mother, i spent a lot of time with cable TV during my first pregnancy. we moved, never signed up for cable after the kids [fearing brain rot], and now i’m culturally inept. oh, well. between reading the news and teens in residence, sometimes i get lots more cultural information than i need.

  45. Kate

    I have had a set sitting in the living room vapid and quiet for a few years now, save for an occasional spin of a DVD rental.

    I grew up without television, then later in my teen years, my father got addicted to it and since the television was on the wall opposite my bedroom, I had to go to sleep hearing Ted Koppel droning on and on about some damn thing going on somewhere that had no relation to my life or my need for sleep.

    I hate tv noise to this day. My kids insisted we get cable when they were in their pre-teen years and I relented, but had to control it vigorously as we lived in a small apartment and the grating noise could not be escaped. I unplugged from the cablocracy once the kids got older and less interested. They didn’t care and I needed to get the peace back into my space. Television really is a violation; a bombardment of all senses and even one’s sense of reality.

    Yes, Twisty, I agree it is a microcosm in some sense of our culture, but it also is a propaganda machine which preaches to its faithfull followers a script to follow for every last detail of their lives, sucking out the ideal of creativity and uniqueness.

    Your criticisms are much like what my experiences in front of the tube were like; one minute of the this -switch- 30 seconds of that – switch – and on and on. I was a restless watcher, ever disappointed with what I saw. Every now and then i go over to a friend’s house on saturday nights and watch the cop shows and comedy shows, reveling in the bad guys being caught and hoping just once, that hte comedy shows might come out with something intelligent. The latter goal has yet to be satisfied.

    Antiques Road Show makes me cringe. I used to deal in antiques and I know full well that there aren’t that many people with 15,000 paintings hanging around.

    As for needing a dose of patriarchal upbraiding, I have my own construction company and believe you me, as a woman in a man’s business, I do my fighting everyday. I don’t need to be reminded of it at night. I need peace, quiet, warmth and a good book to regenerate for the next day of bullshit. And this blog of course.

  46. Violet Socks

    Academics of the old school like to brag about their disconnect from pop culture, but anyone trained in post-modern, post-structural, post-post-neo whatever knows that popular culture is an important part of the culture we study.

    I hope that wasn’t aimed at me, but for the record: I wasn’t bragging. It is a disadvantage to be out of touch with popular culture. Unfortunately, I just dislike TV too much to watch it.

  47. Kate

    Excuse me, that’s “that there aren’t that many people with $15,00 paintings hanging around.”

    Even Antiques Road Show hasn’t succumbed to parading 15,000 paintings out of someone’s house. That would be a special edition, “Road Show Hell Week” or “Road Show at Auntie Edith’s House — a Marathon”. If advertisers would buy space on it and people would watch it, they’d put it on.

    Oh and Jim Lehrer, especially when Robin McNeil was with him, was good for a refreshing snooze after a hard day’s work.

  48. bitchphd

    Actually Angel did get tied up in submissive postures on more than one occasion. Those shows were written by Marti Noxon, who fans either adored or hated b/c she was “ruining” the show.

    I never got as into the Angel/sub scenes as some, b/c I honestly don’t think the actor is all that attractive.

    But anyway, yeah, Buffy was a really good show.

  49. zuzu

    I spent a few periods of my life with no TV, or with TV but no cable, but I reverted.

    The first period of no TV at all was in law school, simply because I couldn’t be arsed to drag my set out to Michigan (but my brother decided to swipe it and drag it to Arizona, then deliver it to Michigan). I got tired of two channels coming in, one of them HSN, so I decided to get cable — and the day before it got hooked up, my TV broke. I did get another, since I was already paying for the cable and all.

    Then when I moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan, I didn’t plug in my TV for the sole reason that by the time my furniture was moved into my tiny living room, I couldn’t find the outlets, so I couldn’t plug it in or figure out where the cable came from.

    Friends of mine have a TV but no cable because their kids are highly distractible and they want them to study. They happily come over and watch my TV when I’m away.

  50. Frumious B

    When I do watch TV, I watch trash.

    http://www.tv.com/cleopatra-2525/show/1588/summary.html

    I’m dying for V.I.P. to come out on DVD

    http://www.tv.com/v.i.p./show/259/summary.html

  51. Hattie

    Why this urinal dates back the Civil War. It’s worth $10,000! I had no idea.

  52. shannon w.

    I don’t watch much TV because I suck so badly that I can’t remember when more than a few shows come on and who writes down the TV schedule? Also, TV isn’t interactive. And I like DVDs better. I’d watch more tv if I had a tivo.

  53. Mandos

    Chalk me up as one of those who is TVless and carfree, at least for the past couple years, almost. I don’t feel much more out of popular culture since most of those shows I wouldn’t have watched anyway.

  54. Ms Kate

    I guess I’m TV Lite and Car Lite then.

    I only seem to watch TV during the Olympics, then I’m glued. Bad, really bad. Like many here I was a) raised in a house where ther goddamn shitbox was never turned off and b) have absolutely no attention span for it.

    I know it is pop culture, but even water cooler convo prep only takes a couple minutes because the whole plot can usually be extrapolated from sparse data.

  55. Mandos

    I have one TV weakness: Battlestar Galactica. That I get from “friends”. I’d pay to subscribe to it if they offered it over the internet officially.

    The one thing I miss about not seeing the Olympics are the opening and closing ceremonies. I have a weakness for things ceremonial of all kinds: ceremonial musics, ceremonial performance, etc, etc.

  56. wolfa

    Must stop myself from a huge thread drift onto Buffy. But no one really disliked Marti Noxon’s episodes in the first three or four seasons — Suprise, The Wish, Consequences, New Moon Rising. (Ok, some people disliked the last one, but that was for the loss of Oz.) They disliked her when she started producing entire seasons.

  57. alphabitch

    Like Rene, I was raised by hippies and we rarely had a TV when I was growing up. Or any kind of commercially produced white bread products. My friends wouldn’t come over because there was nothing to do and nothing they would eat. I’ve never quite gotten the hang of watching TV, though I do enjoy it when I have an opportunity. This week for example I’ve been dog-sitting and teenager-herding out in FancyLand in an enormous McMansion with TVs in most rooms and have been gorging myself on Futurama, X-Files, the Daily Show, and the bizarrely compelling HGTV network. And Cocoa Puffs. Last time I stayed out here they had Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which I also found highly excellent. Oh, and as I’m also carless nowadays (and of course there is no bus service to FancyLand), my friends let me drive their new Infiniti, which terrifies me, as it has a screen on the dashboard that switches to a camera pointed out the back of the car when you back up. If there’s a TV screen in my field of vision, I find it impossible not to watch, so this feature makes me even more of a roadway menace than usual. Plus it has subtitles (e.g., “TURN AND LOOK BEFORE BACKING UP”). I’ll be very glad when my friends get back and I can return to my cozy little 900 square feet of urban untidiness and take the bus to work. I like to knit while I’m on the bus.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I appear to be a fairly typical member of this audience. I don’t usually fit in quite so well as this.

  58. Adrienne

    I only ever watch the Sci-Fi Channel or BBC America. Oh, and I caught Bleak House on PBS recently-very addicting. Other than that, I can’t be bothered with TV. I’m either on the computer (both working and/or playing) or reading a book.

    I must admit to being a faithful Buffy watcher when it was on. I loved that show. I couldn’t really get into Angel though. I think I watched maybe the first 2 season before simply drifting away from it. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I found Firefly boring beyond belief. I tried, oh how I tried. Even saw Serenity but I found it very disappointing.

    Also watched Big Love per the Twisty assignment and found it boring and predictable. I’m sorry Twisty, but one episode is all you will get out of me!

  59. Burrow Klown

    I got addicted to Buffy by way of DVD. (I was TV less for the Buffy years)

    My friends always try to get me to watch Bones with them b/c they think it’s funny that we both are always “I don’t get it” about cultural references. They find this hilarious (b/c they find it slightly annoying that I have no idea what they’re tlaking about most the time) Obviously I’m somewhat caught up, but not really.

  60. ozma

    Why can’t everyone be like you?

    The only reason I can’t have a TV is that if I have a TV, then I cannot turn it off and leave the house. Or sleep. Or shower. I would watch the whole Melissa Gilbert movie. And whatever horrible thing came on after that. Ad infinitum. Yes, you get all kindsa cultural insights of the terrifying kind and yes, if you don’t watch it you become slightly more oblivious to the insanity that surrounds you. Like, when Reagan died I did not know for days.

  61. darkymac

    I grew up without television, then later in my teen years, my father got addicted to it and since the television was on the wall opposite my bedroom, I had to go to sleep hearing Ted Koppel droning on and on about some damn thing going on somewhere that had no relation to my life or my need for sleep.

    I hate tv noise to this day

    What Kate said applies here, but it also took all of my siblings away; the daily dinner table gathering vanished overnight and all my family were isolated in front of the glass tit as they shovelled Ma’s beautiful cooking down without care for taste or quantity.
    Ma and I held out in the kitchen for a year or so. Then she quietly moved to the lounge chair with a balanced plate and I returned to my books.
    The feeling of life getting frozen out of my home has never left me.

    Overnight, my music practise went from a thing that all in the house could either hang around and listen to or go down the street to someone else’s place to get away from, to a “noise” that had to be toned down so the idiot box could prevail. And then I couldn’t go down the street to get away from tv in return because it was everywhere down the street.

    Programming has always struck me as stilted, unreal and innane – no matter where it comes from.

    The Patriarchy has done a fantastic job of getting tv to isolate everyone to the point where a talking head is considered worth sitting still for.

    Of course it makes sense that Twisty, on whose opbstreporal lobe the most potent poisons have no effect, uses the rattle and hum of the glass tit to render that lobe insensible pro tem.
    It is a powerful adversary for sense and sensibility; Buffy be buggered.

  62. darkymac

    So pleased that I followed my sticky beak to find out what the O in O. virginianus stands for.

    Now I have the little pearl
    iron gates crusted in upper to share around.

    Good one Twisty.

  63. mrs_enid

    One of the things that I loved about the X-Files is that Mulder was always playing the “damsel in distress” role and Scully was always busting up some weird scene to save his ass. He was always getting kidnapped or incapacitated and she always had to swoop in, wearing her Superman cape, and save the day. She was always also the logical and practical one, while he was always the flighty, superstitious one who needed to be bailed out and rescued.

  64. hedonistic

    I can’t believe I’m paying for 100 channels just to watch The Daily Show reruns.

  65. kactus

    My tv broke in November, which I found wildly exciting because I’d been threatening to throw it out the window for years anyway. I was cruising along contentedly in my tv-free ways, watching Netflix on my computer, when lo and behold my big brother decided that of all the things I needed /wanted for my birthday (money, new brakes, money, etc) he was going to buy me a television. Never mind my protestations that I was happy without it. I now have a silver stereo television, which is simply the most modern and high-tech thing in my house, next to the cell phone.

    Still barely watch it, though. And that cable thing? I had to choose between internet and cable, and internet it was.

  66. Sylvanite

    Wolfa is correct, of course. “The Wish” was season 2.

    I currently watch “Veronica Mars” and tons of the Discovery Science Channel. My favorite thing I saw recently was a computer simulation of a truly monstrous asteroid hitting the Earth. It was a half hour of the Earth getting sterilized by an all-consuming cloud of molten rock. Oceans boiled away. It hit in the Pacific, and Japan was obliterated by the crustal waves. It was awesome.

    I don’t know how I lived before I got the Discovery Science Channel.

  67. Sylvanite

    Season 3, dammit! Buffy season 3! What is wrong with me? Gah!

  68. Mandos

    The only problem with the X-files is that Mulder was usually right about the big picture and Scully wrong, at least until David Duchovny got bored of it. It’s true that Mulder always had to be rescued, though. Also they ruined Scully’s character in that disappointing series ending and never resolved the conspiracy or told us how it made sense.

  69. Amber

    Gotta disagree with you about Sex & the City. Charlotte’s first marraige (the million dollar one) bombed, and was a prime example of why NOT to do things by traditional patriarchal standards. Miranda’s motherhood (no husband in sight) wasn’t softpedaled at all, I loved how they handled that and didn’t try to glamorize having a baby. Samantha took on breast cancer head-on with no bullshit, and successfully ran her own PR firm. Carrie could get annoying at times, but had her moments as well.

    The women were feminists; yes bad feminists most of the time, but so are a lot of us (speaking for myself especially). They were human. That’s why I liked the show.

  70. hedonistic

    I plan to rent the Sex and the City DVDs (I missed the whole thing) because the show contributed so much new language to our culture (“Toxic Bachelor,” etc.) that I feel as though I missed out on something. Sex and the City is on my “must watch” list as is Casablanca, Last Tango in Paris, the Godfather (still on my yet-to-watch list), and that movie where some guy said “You had me at hello” (never saw that one either).

    Someone – I think it was Amanda at Pandagon – asserts that, although the characters were imperfect feminists supposedly trying to find “Mr. Right” in lock-step with the cultural script, the bottom line is that most (all?) of them preferred lives of autonomy and freedom, and their most important life choices reflected this.

  71. Amber

    “most (all?) of them preferred lives of autonomy and freedom, and their most important life choices reflected this.”

    Yep. I also missed the whole thing, and rented all the DVDs through Netflix. It’s good TV to watch while knitting (yep, I’m another one). Season 6 is the best, but you may just wanna start from the beginning to get all the backstory.

  72. Jezebella

    Violet Socks –

    I was not aiming my comment about old school academics at you or anyone in particular. No offense meant, okay?

    If you’re in the humanities you’ve no doubt witnessed the animosity between the old school, ivory-tower, silver-spoon academics who Watch No TV, and the post-neo-ism pop-culture crowd. I’m no theory wonk, but I’m not a silver-spoon art historian either. I’m somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.

    I loved, loved, loved the X-Files. I loved Mulder’s constantly hollering: “scull-eeeeeee!” He was always in need of rescue, and he knew who to turn to. The last season was muddy and Scully spent her every appearance looking ready to burst into tears, which irritated me. Gillian Anderson is subtle & outstandin as Lady Deadlock in what I’ve seen of Bleak House so far. She does need to eat a sandwich, however, as she’s gotten rather pointy.

  73. lavalamp

    I’m a more or less 3/4 recovered Buffy addict. Not the extent I can’t not mention it in this thread but not to the extent that I have to expand on it….

    And echoing Red’s rec for The Closer. I resisted it for a while despite several other people pushing it on me but have finally succumbed, though in all honestly it’s feminist Lite. But that’s still a lot for mainstream television, and the writing, with some jarring exceptions, is much better than average- it leaves a lot unsaid, doesn’t feel the need to tie up every little thing in tidy neat packages. But the main thing is, Sedgwick is very good.

    Best line ever:
    “Oh no, no, no. You don’t need an attorney because if you get an attorney I plan to sit down with your fiancee and have a nice long chat with her about what you’ve been doing with your penis.”

  74. Ms Kate

    Knitting and TV demand the ability to sit down and stay in one place and do one thing. I can’t do that.

    Probably why I never mastered either. Possibly also why my mother sits down and knits while watching TV.

    I can’t even ride a bike trainer while in front of a TV without going stark raving bonkers. I just can’t take that level of sensory deprivation. (maybe if I had a fan and a shower assembly, then I’d be able to do it?)

  75. nerdlet

    The entire 4 minutes of Bones I watched, ever, endeared itself to me. Bones got the evidence that a corrupt guy – politician? – had killed a woman, and went alone to hunt him down. She pointed the gun at him and said she had evidence, he blabbed on and on about how he was going to kill her too because she was stupid and came there alone, and I thought, great, her hands are going to start shaking and he’s going to overpower her even though she’s the one with the gun – but no, she just looked really amused at his threats and shot him in the leg and he collapsed. No big confrontation, just that.

    Oh dear. Now I have to list from memory all the times Angel was chained up in S&M poses:
    Buffy:
    Season 2: “What’s my Line, Part 2.” Kidnapped and chained up (shirtless?) by Drusilla.
    Season 3: 3-4 episodes, Angel drops in naked from a hell dimension and Buffy chains him up (shirtless) because he’s all feral.
    “The Wish:” In an alternate dimension, Angel is chained up shirtless and BDSMVampWillow tortures him in a variety of ways.

    Angel:
    Season 1:
    “In the Dark” – Angel is captured, chained, and tortured by a guy Spike hired.
    “Somnambulist” – Angel is chained up willingly because he’s afraid he’s committing sleepwalk-murders.
    “Eternity” – Angel is chained up to his bed because he almost turned evil again.
    Season 4:
    Angel is locked up in a cage for several episodes – don’t think he was chained, though.

    I’m sure I’m leaving something out!

    Spike also spent a lot of season 7 chained up in Buffy’s basement. Oz gets chained or locked up monthly. Faith is chained up in one Buffy episode, I think, and maybe one on Angel as well.

  76. antelope

    Twisty watched television for our sins!

  77. antelope

    Count me as another one that mostly doesn’t watch, but gets COMPLETELY sucked in when I do.

    I will use Netlix to rent a whole season at a time & watch the entire darned thing over the course of 2 or 3 days. So far I’ve only done it with Six Feet Under (an excellent show & I can’t believe I’m the first to mention it). I think Season One of Buffy is going to be next.

    I can really identify w/ the story Darkymac was telling, except in my case there’s the transition from hippy television-free birth family to a stepfamily that can only be called muggles involved. For the steps, TV watching was supposed to be bonding of some sort & so therefore my rejection of TV was read as also a rejection of them. Partly true, but I don’t see how hassling me about it was supposed to bring anyone closer.

    Actually, there were a few times I considered settling down in the living room to check out such high quality fare as “Cheers” and “Three’s Company”, but I would find that my stepbrother was already there, sacked out on the couch with his hand down his shorts – his sister sitting nearby & either so glazed by television that she didn’t notice or practicing the kind of wilful ignorance that only people who’ve known one another since birth can manage.

    On the one hand I should be grateful to the boy for preventing me from seeing too much of some of the very worst shows ever produced. On the other, it’s going to feel SO good to hit the blame button this time.

  78. Hissy Cat

    I can’t believe I’m paying for 100 channels just to watch The Daily Show reruns.

    The Daily Show is on iTunes now. Just pitch your TV set into the bin.

  79. hedonistic

    Hissy Cat:

    (blank look) What’s an iTune?

    (just kidding, it has something to do with those “pod” things, right?)

  80. mrs_enid

    Veronica Mars is the bomb! I forgot about that one, and I watch it regularly. She’s a great example of a smart, strong and independent female lead on TV.

  81. Tapetum

    Nerdlet, that’s weird, you’ve seen the exact same four minutes of “Bones” that I have. Lowed it, have never seen it since.

    I love CSI, despite patriarchal problems. Whenever one of the CSI’s has to get beaten up, kidnapped, or otherwise victimized, they choose the studly young white dude. It’s lovely.

  82. Christopher

    See, I understand the “TV as bonding” thing because my mom and I have nothing in common. I don’t really see that silently staring at each other for the hour it takes to eat dinner as being particularly better then watching an episode of MST3K together.

    I guess I’m a philistine.

    Me, I watch a lot of TV, but pretty much only cartoons, Law & Order, and pro wrestling. Yeah, I’m a real classy guy.

  83. Sunya Harjis

    Please forgive me my Ten Minute Hate:

    TV is wretched and awful, yes, but nobody makes you watch TV all the time. It’s the fucking radio, which permeates absolutely every locality which is not my own personal home, that has me on the verge of wrist-slitting.

    You vengefully useless commies-lites cannot even begin to protest “I never listen to the radio…” fuck you, yes you do, and your communally godawful taste in music renders every minute of my life less bearable because of it. I have never been so painfully aware of my status as a person of genuinely good taste as I have these past few weeks, being forced for the first time to listen to the radio even while at work, and realizing with shocking and nerve-grating clarity that I live in a nation of IDIOTS. Men and women alike: IDIOTS. TASTELESS. FUCKING. MORONS.

    I’m not one of those stupid people who confuses “interesting” or “novel” for good; neither do I confond “well-trodden”, “familiar”, or “best of its kind” for good. Fucking whine at me once about taste being subjective, I fucking dare you, because I know factually that the shit that gets played on every radio station in the USofA permanently lowers your IQ and makes you more and more susceptible to wussy-pants rhetoric on the moral relativism line. Taste is not subjective. There are cultural phenomena which are obviously and clearly dated, tawdry, useless, and good taste prohibits falling in with such bad aesthetic company as surely as possession of estrogen prohibits one from any executive position that doesn’t involve HR. My point is this: you are stupid enough to think that ANYTHING played on the radio is good ONLY BECAUSE you can only compare it to all the other dross you hear on the radio AND SUBSEQUENTLY, BEING A RADIO LISTENER, YOU ARE STUPID.

    Even the transparent greatness of my intellect – Sunya Harjis’ intellect – has suffered bitterly under this daily exposure to what I now know as… what I have at last identified plainly as… the mind of the average American. Look at me, I’m reduced to ellipses. I fucking hate the radio more than I hate the patriarchy. I’m not kidding. I would become a fucking STEPFORD FUCKING WIFE PIMPING SEX SLAVES TO OLIGARCHS IN ALABAMA if by my sacrifice I could destroy network radio forever.

    In my next wrathful installment, I will go into specifics about why, specifically, every specific song on the radio specifically is hateful.

  84. Jezebella

    Sunya, sweetness:

    You need an iPod. You need to keep those buds stuffed in your ears 24/7.

    I ain’t got one, but then, I don’t have to listen to the radio at work. I, too, would be homicidal if forced to listen to commercial radio all day long.

    And, have you BEEN to alabama? You may want to reconsider your sacrifice.

  85. Mandos

    I don’t listen to the radio! And I don’t have TV! And I don’t have a car! I’ve hit the trifecta!

  86. Twisty

    I second this iPod scheme, Sunya. Some would argue that the iPod is a tool of The Man, but I just got a new one on which I can watch Battlestar Gallactica. Before that I could listen to podcasts of radio shows that don’t suck, and, of course, my considerable library of 60′s brazilian pop. It’s a pretty cool thingy.

  87. Sunya Harjis

    BRAZILIAN POP!???!?! OH MY GOD TWISTY CAN WE TALK ABOUT CHICO BUARQUE DE HOLLANDA NOW AND HIS FABULOUS AND WORRYING WORK WITH ENNIO MORRICONE?!?!?? AT LAST, CAN I WAX RHAPSODIC ABOUT OS AFRO SAMBAS DE BADEN E VINCIUS?!?!?!??!?!?!

    So anyway, iPods.

    iPods are for suckers though. I can’t vouch for anything that so stridently pushes any kind of Coolness line, especially with the whole iTunes-invisible-hand-of-the-market-now-OWNS-YOUR-FUCKING-HARD-DRIVE. I have a little Cowan iAudio player, but I can’t listen to it at work. Because I need to be able, the reasoning goes, to hear everyone shouting at me to save the world and fix all their mistakes. I know I know iPods play video but the Cowan player offers: replaceable, readily available battery (45 hours playback on one AA); .ogg support, your open-source mp3 ass-kicker, which used to be the thing which made iRiver cool before it sold out to The Man; drag-and-drop works-with-Windows-AND-LINUX USB drive file structure – no special software, no DRM, no bullshit.

    You exchange video playback for a healthy dose of freedom.

    iTunes is also for suckers for all the same reasons. iTunes is Buying The Line. I can’t comprehend people who actually use iTunes: let me get this straight, you’re going to pay the same amount of money for an album… but you’re not getting the case, liner notes, or CD QUALITY? Not to mention ABSOLUTE CONTROL OVER YOUR SHIT? Sunya throws down with the iTunes of the immoral and merciless: Soulseek.

  88. Chris Clarke

    BRAZILIAN POP!???!?! OH MY GOD TWISTY

    Zé sera, sera.

  89. Jezebella

    Sunya, it is time to stage a revolution in your workplace. If you can’t stuff your ears with better music (via iPod, Cowan, Walkman, or any other device)… then no one should be allowed to force their music into your ears. Seriously, it sounds like your head is going to explode otherwise.

    I turn into fucking autism-girl when horrible noises are all around me. I can’t deal with malls at xmas, walmart, or any other place where a thousand noises cross over and amplify each other; mix in some flourescent lighting and it is my idea of hell. don’t even get me started on children in the workplace….

  90. hedonistic

    http://www.legendsofjazz.net/television/LatinJazz OK, not Brazilian pop, but how about Brazilian jazz? I was wallowing in it last night (Dave Valentin live at a little jazz club in Philly) . . .

  91. TP

    Sunya cracks me up with her over-the-top hyperbole about everything. My sense of humor is a lot like that!

    Somebody must tell dear Mandos he can download his Battlestar Galactica from iTunes for 2 bucks a show. Even if it makes Sunya run screaming from the room in limitless horror!

    You can even subscribe to an entire month of the Daily Show and the even more subversive Colbert Report for $10 a month each. I did it so I wouldn’t have to miss the damn show any more.

    But the music everywhere in the world, constantly, yeah, Sunya, they should all turn that shit off and listen to the air moving, or even better, the birds singing.

  92. sybil

    i was raised on tv. It dominated the home, conversation happened during the commercials, the noise was non-stop (competing with the omnipresent sports on radio). Watched it on and off later. I’m so relieved to have disconnected a few years back. I still know way more than I wish about what’s going on, but minus the in-your-face sound and sight of that particular bastion of patriarchal power. I never did tolerate commercial telly, but the news readers of even npr matter-of-factly delivering the litany of latest outrages is impossible to stomach. I read novels and blogs and listen to public radio. Blogs work for me because there is enough irony, scorn and parody to cushion the blows a bit, to make me feel at least I’m among friends in these dark days.

  1. Twisty does Tee-Vee at The Republic of Dogs

    [...] Thank you and Amen.  If I didn’t watch TV, what would I have to be mad about? Be sure to read the rest, it’s (surprise!) fantastic. [...]

  2. Monitoring the transmissions

    [...] It is for these reasons (and BBC America) that I have decided to get satellite TV and start watching some of the shit that’s out there, so I can ruin your favorite shows for you with authority.  I’m researching options right now, crunching my limited budget, and trying to find a formula that factors the cost of this venture against the likelihood that I’ll have any time to watch stuff at all.  I’m close to making a choice and ordering something. In the meantime, Twisty’s continuing her reviews, and giving a fabulous explanation for why this must be done: I’m sayin’, TV is the dominant culture’s self-image, instruction manual, and church all rolled into one. I must monitor their transmissions! If I don’t, a curious sensation of peace and contentment washes over me, and I start blaming the wrong things, like the weather, or my mother. [...]

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