The Politics of Television

As I watch their immobilized faces, an acute guilt starts to wash over me. Similar to the moment before death, thousands upon thousands of wasted moments of my life start to flash before me.  Me at twelve on the couch in watching re-runs of Gilligan’s Island, naive to the reality that if the castaways somehow make it off the island, the series will be canceled.  Me at nineteen sitting at my frat house at UT with twelve other guys, staring at a large screen and discussing the faith of various General Hospital characters. Man, I’d do anything to avoid class back then.  Me at 23 trying to learn the chords of a Talking Heads song by using the new single frame advance feature of my DVR.  And here I am, past being a grown man, watching Nick Jr with a six and four year old.  Now I’m depressed. What the hell I’m in doing to them? I might as well put them to work in a sweat shop in Malaysia sewing buttons on Kathy Lee Gifford’s new line of children’s rain jackets with their nimble little fingers.  At least they’d be learning a skill. As it stands now, we’re just developing a strange dialogue around an odd assortment of Fresh Beat Band characters.  Elie asks me if Kiki is married to Twist or Shout?  I tell her neither and that she’s probably a lesbian.  She asks me what a lesbian is and paying homage to some old Richard Pryor routine, I tell her it’s someone who lives in Beirut. I point Beirut out on google earth.  Now I’ve work the Fresh Beat Band into a helpful geography lesson and I feel better.  Then The Wonder Pets comes on.  Very improbable series about a turtle, a duck and a hamster, who have delusions of grander and go around saving other small animals in a boat that flies.  Oh, I forgot to mention, it’s all played out in the form of a greek chorus and the duck has a really bad lisp.  So does the 4 year old.  Is there a connection?  I’m guilty all over again.  Now the girls have stopped blinking.  Should I hold a mirror up to their mouths or enjoy a few more moments of peace? I hope they don’t pee on the eight thousand dollar couch in favor of missing even a brief moment of a baby rhino being rescued from a mud puddle.  I hear the duck say, “this is Sewious” and I couldn’t agree more.  I decide to take control of damn remote.  Mayhem ensues.  The six year old, like a pint-sized MacGyver, figures out how to turn the TV back on w/o the box.  Did she do it with her mind?  No, she grabbed the spare from the office before the show and hid it in her little pink Ugg boot.  She must have anticipated I would insist on analogue play at some point in the day.  Although misguided,  I’m impressed by the planning that went into it.  I grab the spare. She’s quickly turning into the girl from the Exorcist now. My wife calls and asks me how everything is going and inquires about the crying.  She says it sounds like they’re being water boarded but she knows its not bath time. I tell her everything is under control, so she decides to stop and get a “flat white” at the cafe around the corner on the way home. She’s Australian and those people have a different word for everything. This should give me time to restore order.  I start looking for personal items that will inflict a sense of loss. I emerge from their room with a crimson tutu and and an Angry Birds squishy toy.  You’d think I was holding the Pink Panther Diamond and one of their vital organs. They snap into line real fast. I quickly outline princess characters with a crayon on two large sheets of paper and tell them to start coloring.  My wife walks in and asks who spilled water on the couch.

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