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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Television and the dumbing-down of David

Do you remember the scene from Poltergeist (and the half-hearted reprise of the concept in Pleasantville) where the kid gets sucked into the TV? I know for a fact, without checking the credits, that the writer who came up with that concept was a man! I know because it happens to me a few times a week.

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My wife can attest to the fact that if I am in the same room with a working television I am powerless to resist its gravitational pull. It doesn’t even have to be tuned to anything particularly compelling…a blue screen, a test pattern…sometimes even snow, will do.

There are only a couple of programs that I follow with anything approximating loyalty; West Wing being the hands-down winner, and Law & Order coming in a close second (yes…we have all that here!).

So with only two out of a potential 168 viewing hours in the week accounted for, why the hell does my wife have to physically drag my drooling, zombie-like carcass away from the warm glow of the television after midnight every night? Funny, huh? Not so much for the lady doing the dragging, I’m sure.

It’s especially distressing when I find myself personally invested (translation: transfixed like a deer in the headlights) in shows that should only be of interest to my wife. A perfect example is the now defunct series, Sex in the City.

I hate this show.

Even before I even knew what it was truly about I hated this show. The idea of a bunch of self-destructive, perennially whiny man-eaters partying their way through their ever-shrinking-marital-window-of-opportunity is the kind of thing that should send someone with a 'Y' chromosome screaming from the room. Yet, one day a few months back, while my wife was watching S.I.T.C., I happened to pass through the living room on my way to who-knows-where…and, BANG! Like a trout with a hand-tied damsel fly lodged in the corner of its mouth, I was hooked.

Much as a want to continue bashing it, there seem to be a few redeeming qualities to S.I.T.C. Besides de-mystifying some of the more arcane female rites (like eye contact, conversation, and other discourse with total strangers in public bathrooms [shudder]), the show provided a recent flash of clarity for me.

When Carrie Bradshaw decided to live out what I like to call the ‘Disney Fantasy’ (you know, that irresponsible daydream-come-true of allowing Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet and take her to live in Paris), she suddenly encountered an issue to which I can definitely relate: Her character is used to always being able to effortlessly provide a witty turn-of-phrase, or a naughty double entendre. In Paris she is handcuffed into dumb silence by her lack of facility with French. Lucky for her there was yet another Prince Charming waiting in the wings to sweep her back to New York.

While I love my new life here in Israel, I often catch myself feeling somewhat blocked by the language. Don’t get me wrong…I can communicate pretty effectively in Hebrew, and can even manage a passable joke once-in-a-while. But I don’t feel ‘smart’ in the same way that I did in my previous English-speaking existence. It’s a little thing, this language gap…but more than a little humbling. However, unlike Carrie...I have no thoughts of returning to the states (and my Princess Charming is right here, thank you very much!).

A grudging thank you to Sex in the City for jarring that revelation loose.

I am so grateful that our kids will have a much easier time with this whole language thing. In the 8 months since we moved here they have become truly bilingual - slipping unconsciously from English to Hebrew and back depending on which friends are over to play.

So, even though this was a rambling entry today…there were a few notable points. Let’s review, shall we?

1) I, like most men, am helpless before the power of the all-mighty television.

2) Programs that should hold about as much enjoyment for a man as shopping in the ‘feminine products’ aisle can occasionally strike a resonant chord.

3) If you ladies out there are fed up with your hubby doing his ‘Rain Man’ impression every time the blue light hits his face, take it from me…he can sometimes absorb valuable information, despite his seemingly vegetative state.

Posted by David Bogner on March 30, 2004 | Permalink

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"someone with two 'Y' chromosomes"

You mean someone with one Y chromosome. Women have two Xs. Men have one of each.

Someone with two Ys has some kind of defect.

Otherwise, very nice post.

Posted by: fact-checking police | Mar 30, 2004 12:37:06 AM

Ah yes...Where would I be without the fact checking police? In all seriousness...thanks for catching that blunder. I wouldn't want my readership to think I am some kind of a mutant! :-)

I think somwhere in the fog of high school biology I may have been exposed to the correct information, but the plot lines and theme songs from two decades (60's & '70's) of television seem to have used up all my long term memory slots.

Think I'm joking? Try this:

Sing the theme songs to Gilligan's Island, Green Acres and Mr. Ed (extra credit for the closing themes). Good, now (without looking it up) tell me the periodic table symbols for Sodium, Potassium and Silver.

Not feeling so smug right now, are you?

Posted by: David | Mar 30, 2004 9:38:22 AM

it's sex and the city not sex in the city. Fact.

Posted by: lolly | Nov 29, 2005 8:03:20 PM

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