9.23.18: a rebel alliance of quality content
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for the world is shallow
and i have scraped the bottom
by robert a. melos

Sometimes the boredom overcomes me. Not so much boredom as a lack of ambition to do anything more than pick up the television remote and start flipping channels in an effort to find something to pass the moments that make up a dull day. I’ve been doing this as far back as I can remember, sometimes just for background noise and sometimes just because it passed the time until I could fall asleep.

I have the cable super package. It goes by different names, the diamond package, the gold package, Super Size Me, but what it comes down to is somewhere in the neighborhood of $110 a month for about 500 channels, most of which are either paid programming, HDTV channels that only work on HDTV televisions, music channels that are actually radio on your television, foreign language channels that are, well, foreign languages that I don’t speak, and a few channels of stuff that is meant to hold my attention longer than the first couple of minutes of a Seinfeld rerun.

Alas, this is not the case. I routinely surf the channels to the point of having worn out several remote controls. I am a world class channel surfer. If channel surfing were a sport I would hold a world title. I’d be featured in my documentary shooting a paid programming curl and reaching a news channel peak. Unfortunately this is not the case. My sport of choice is not of Olympic caliber or even on the level of a video game; although I do run the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Now I’m not alone in my surfing. There are millions of people just like me, wasting the better part of many an evening surfing the tube in search of a diversion that will get us all through the next half hour. I’ve watched hours of soft core “adult entertainment” that is so misleading and boring it would be enough to turn most people celibate. I’ve watched Nova on both the Discovery Channel and on the Science Channel, the same episode repeatedly, discovering Atlantis and ancient volcanoes and life on Mars.

I’ve watched reruns of Rosanne, Drew Carey, Seinfeld, and Dane Cook’s Tourgasm, and I don’t even think he’s funny. I’ve watched CNN rerun the news every 20 minutes until I could repeat it verbatim, and in my surfing I’ve come across some really terrible programming that makes me wonder why television is even still popular?

The ultimate dregs the entertainment industry, aside from the soft core “adult entertainment” with actors who have less talent than that Screech guy from Saved by the Bell, are the reality shows.

Now I’ve avoided the big named ones like American Idol (although I have slowly been sucked into its evil world by accidentally seeing a few episodes while sitting at a local diner where they have several televisions to divert the customer’s attention from the bland food), The Amazing Race, Who Wants To Be The Next Supermodel, and even some of the more off the wall ones like Super Nanny and Wife Swap, but late at night, when nothing else is on, and I’ve surfing near the Oxygen channel (Oh! For people who have climbed to high and can’t think straight anymore), and come across what is possibly only surpassed by reruns of Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica as the worst possible show ever; Tori and Dean: Inn Love.

The Tori in question is Tori Spelling, daughter of the late Aaron Spelling, Hollywood super mogul. The Dean of Tori and Dean is Dean McDermott, Tori’s husband. The concept of the show is that Tori was disinherited from her fathers millions and she is a poor little rich girl who, along with her actor husband, is determined to make it in the real world, like other rich girls Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, by opening her own business. The business she chooses is a bed and breakfast in Temecula, California.

You see, Tori was only sort of disinherited. She did get $800K. Yeah. Tough break.

Why does anyone care? I asked myself this question while I watched a very pregnant Tori and her sort of hunky husband search for the perfect B&B in an effort to get everything done before the baby comes along. So being bored, and not wanting to surf the soft core channels again, I turned to a different kind of surfing. I took to the Net to discover all I could about a couple I knew little about and cared about even less. I was bored.

To my horror it seems the world, or at least a portion of the population, does care about this couple. They have a MySpace page and have “friended” 6,928 people. Don’t even get me started on the waste of time MySpace is. Now maybe 6,928 people isn’t a lot, but there are a lot more out there who probably didn’t make the cut.

What passes for entertainment has changed so much from when I was a bored child channel surfing. Back then there were only 13 channels. Actually only channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 came in on the TV with the “rabbit ears” and I had to get up and walk across the room to turn a knob on the set to channel surf. I remember watching PBS because I didn’t want to stand there changing channels any longer, with shows like “The Six Wives Of Henry The VIII”, which at that age I didn’t understand in the least bit because it was British and confusing. I remember every episode started out the same. I didn’t get it. Now we have cable’s latest version, “The Tudors”. It’s Henry with a lot more sex. British history is a lot more interesting with the sex.

However, it doesn’t hold my interest long enough to keep me from surfing back to the lives of Tori and Dean. I don’t know what it is about this Hollywood couple who are truly helpless in the real world, beyond the fish out of water/train wreck waiting to happen appeal. I can’t resist rooting for them, hoping Tori will learn how to make a grilled cheese sandwich and hoping Dean will learn to do something more than take his wife off to their trailer for sex as a way of distracting himself and her from their life outside of the Hollywood fishbowl.

I know there is more to the world than television and the Internet. It’s just so addictive, like computer gaming. I multi-task. I can surf the web, watch The Erotic Traveler or a rerun of Tori and Dean, and play Civ III all at the same time. I know, deep in my heart, I’m tossing my life away. I could be writing the next great American novel, or discovering a cure for cancer, or something really important, but I’ve been sucked into the distraction of the entertainment pool.

Yeah, the entertainment pool is shallow, and we are scrapping the bottom. It's my guilty pleasure. Maybe The Best Sex Ever is on Cinemax?


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos


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topic: television
published: 8.7.03


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