I've been sick the past few days. While home sitting around filling my trash can with Kleenex, lounging in the Lay-Z-Boy chair in my 'man cave' where I have a big TV and no cable, I have had the opportunity to watch good old fashioned antenna TV programs. Most of the channels during the workday were running women's talk shows, divorce court for black people, and other crap programming I don't care about. I ended up settling on the MeTV channel.
MeTV runs old TV shows from the '60s and early '70s all day long. Sitting here watching these old shows, the first thing I notice is that the concepts of heroes and villains are dramatically different than the shows we have today. The second thing I noticed is that the commercials are all geared toward very old Baby Boomers who are retired and riding the Medicare train.
Most of the old shows are westerns. Gun Smoke, Bonanza, The Big Valley, The Wild Wild West, The Rifleman - all are running back-to-back. Then they throw in Emergency, an old '70s shows about a pair of paramedics who apparently drive around rescuing goats. At least, that's what they did today. Watching these old shows I have been struck by the fact that the villains, not the heroes, get to do most of the action. It's the villains hitting the heroes over the head, tying them up, torturing them, generally doing evil things to them. In all the modern shows the 'heroes' are cops and they do all of the abusing, torturing, speech-making, etc. The modern shows feature the 'good guys' abusing the law, abusing citizens individual human rights, preaching to them about how they are justified in doing evil because they represent The State and thus have the power to get away with whatever they want to do to a lowly US citizen. The State gives them the power to do whatever they please, whereas the lowly citizen they victimize can't fight against such overwhelming power and thus can't defend themselves, and this alone makes it right for the modern 'heroes' to do as they please. In the old shows, it is the villains who behave this way. The heroes won't stoop to such despicable behavior. That would make them villains, too.
These old story lines, I have to confess, frustrate me. The villains in these shows deserve a serious beating, or even sometimes maybe to be shot and killed. But the heroes always exercise restraint. They're very patient. They try to understand why the villains are so evil. They try to encourage the villains to repent of their sins and change their evil ways. And in most of the shows, at the end the villain does change. If he doesn't, he either ends up dead or going to jail. But not before the hero defeats him in a fist fight, always fighting totally fair and never dirty. The hero doesn't ever do anything dirty or low.
In the modern shows, half the time the guys the main characters, who are supposed to be heroes, are going after aren't really all that bad. Sometimes I don't see anything at all that they've done wrong. But the main characters are cops, they represent the power of the State, and thus they can go after anyone they want for any reason, with or without justification. They can trample on the law. They can trample on their target's rights. They can do literally anything. The story depicts it as being a good thing, a heroic thing. We are expected to side with the State without questioning why it is on a crusade to destroy this person when they have no evidence, no proof, of any wrongdoing. The shows today depict cops abusing citizens in an effort to get the evidence they need to support their crusade against that person. They don't already have evidence or proof, most of the time. So they torture the citizen, or beat him, or blackmail him, in order to get the evidence that justifies their crusade against him. It's all backwards. And we, the audience, are expected to just go along with it and support it.
On the show Emergency, the entire episode I saw was about a baby goat. For some reason they couldn't get this goat to a vet, so they asked the paramedics to take it to a hospital. The hospital told them over and over that it wasn't equipped to deal with a goat and couldn't accept the goat as a patient. But they argued with the hospital anyway. Then they went inside and argued with the head doctor. He told them he had no way of dealing with a goat and could not allow a goat inside the hospital. So the head nurse dragged the goat inside anyway and told him that he had better treat the goat or she was going to. At this point, I was shocked to see a filthy goat inside a hospital filled with human beings who were possibly being exposed to all sorts of infections and bacteria from this goat. But I guess this was back before SARS and MRSA and all of that. The script was weak, but clearly expected the audience to feel so overwhelming compassion for the goat, and have so little knowledge of how dangerous that was for the human patients, that they would side with the people insisting on bringing a goat into a human hospital.
The rest of the show consisted of the head surgeon performing some procedure on the goat while a vet was on the phone telling him what to do. It was supposed to be very tense and exciting. Would the goat survive or would he die? All I was thinking was, if you've got the vet on the phone, why not take the goat to the vet in the first place? It ended with the goat being OK, which was no surprise at all. Basically it was 30 minutes of goat surgery and boredom. It was either the dumbest episode of Emergency they ever filmed or else that show was just stupid.
All the commercials on MeTV seem to be aimed at old Baby Boomers. The commercials give the impression that everyone watching this channel is a total moron as well as a narcissist. Every ad features some old person saying "do you need a Hover Round? Don't you think you deserve to get it for free?" Everything in every ad is like this. "Do you want something? Don't you think it should be given to you for free?" Every single ad. They're all about Medicare or Medicaid and promise that everything you could possibly want is available to you for free thanks to Medicare and Medicaid. Just make a wish, rub the magic lamp, and the Government will pay for it for you! PRESTO!
No wonder they call this channel MeTV.
The commercials never mention the fact that Medicare and Medicaid is broke already. That inconvenient truth is left for the younger generations to deal with.
Anyway, being at home sick and nasty has been no fun. Watching MeTV was no fun either. The shows were interesting mostly only in the way they revealed the dramatic differences in the way the WWII generation who created these old shows thought about law and justice and the way the current Baby Boomer generation, who creates all our current shows, thinks about it. The older generation believed in decency and justice with restraint. The current generation seems to believe in power above all else. If you've got the power, then you can do whatever you please to whomever you please and no one can say you're wrong. If they do, just torture them or throw them in prison on bogus charges or kill them and nothing will happen to you because you are protected by the power of the State, and power is all that matters.
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