Now I'm not saying its bad to watch them, I'm hooked on Lost and Celebrity Apprentice (don't ask me why), but could these shows be any bigger wastes of time? Yet we always watch them.
We're addicted. We're hooked. We can't turn away.
Sure J.J. Abrams! I don't mind getting strung along for 6 seasons, being promised answers, only to be left with MORE QUESTIONS!!! If you want to tell me there is a deep meaning behind a giant turtle wearing a striped cardigan eating clouds, I'm sure I'll watch it for at least 3 seasons. But, I digress....
So, I'm at home Sunday night watching TV with my wife and we get sucked into the new show "Minute to Win It". I won't lie, I was intrigued by this show before it came out. If you don't know, the show features a contestant who has to play a variety of screwy games apparently made up by a 5th grader on speed. They have 1 minute to complete each task, working their way up the chain of money trying to win $1 million. They play games like pulling all the tissues out of a box one by one, bouncing ping pong balls off plates into a fish bowl, dropping quarters into shot glasses at the bottom of fishbowls, stacking cups rapidly, etc.
Its asinine. And I watched it for two straight hours.
The first contestant, a large, jovial black man called "Big Steve", was playing his way through the games trying to win money to take his family back to Texas so his boys could grow up on a ranch enjoying life like he did as a child. A touching story, and we were rooting for him all the way. At one point, Steve was throwing bean bags at push lights in an attempt to turn them all on so he could win the challenge and $10,000. He has a good strategy, start at the bottom, work your way up. One at a time. Focus. Remember, he has 60 seconds to complete the challenge. As the clock winds down and Steve has 1 light left, the top light on the pyramid, the tension becomes palpable. Can he do it? 10 seconds left...too high...9 seconds...to far left...8 seconds...too short...7 seconds....My wife throws her arms in the air and screams, "YES!!!!!!" He's done it.
I look over at her. We take a second. We quickly realizes how foolish we are. We've just spent over half an hour watching Steve pull tissues, bobble his head, and bounce ping-pong balls into a fish bowl. And here we are screaming in exclamation that Steve was able to turn on the final push light (a product nobody uses) with a bean bag (a toy nobody uses). I fear we may have lost our minds. Just to make sure, we watch the rest of the episode...and the one that follows. Notion confirmed.
Then why is mindless television so popular? So addictive? Do I judge you for watching Survivor Season God Knows What? or Celebrity Apprentice: Are Any of Us Actually Celebrities? or Jersey Shore: Rise of Little Orange Smurf People? No! Well, yes for Jersey Shore. But not the other ones!
We were rooting for Big Steve because we wanted him to take his family back to the country. We root for contestants on American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance because we grow attached to them. We live vicariously through game show contestants and laugh at the embarrassment that is MTV programming.
Our worlds are fast paced. We're pushed to be connected to everyone at all times. No matter where you are in life you are juggling multiple responsibilities and maintaining multiple relationships. Point being, you won't find a bigger fan of turning your brain off at the end of a long week than me.
So here's to mindless television! I'm sure you'll be the downfall of our society, but at least I won't be mentally aware enough to notice.