I've come to the sad realization that there are no gatekeepers – no arbiters of good taste, and/or good sense. There are no gatekeepers, electronic or otherwise to filter out the spam and the garbage, fraud and the fraudulent. There are no bouncers at the club throwing anybody out anymore. All are welcome. No credentials needed. The degenerate, illiterate, debased, and aberrant get to the front of the line. Am I becoming an elitist? Not by any means. Those that know me would scoff at that notion. I recently had to think long and hard about purchasing season 1 of the old Dukes Of Hazzard tv show. I decided not to revisit my childhood. But something is happening here. The barbarians are not at the gate anymore. They've long since crashed it.
Consider the vast wasteland of television (Dukes Of Hazzard excluded) to illustrate my point. The 1992 Bruce Springsteen song 57 Channels (And Nothin' On) seems so outdated. There are now at least 1,057 channels and nothin' on. Last year when visiting a family friend, I began watching a show on the Animal Planet network (dedicated to animal lovers no doubt). The show revolved around a guy who catches critters with his bare hands. If you've got a skunk, snake, snapping turtle or any other wild varmint causing you trouble in backwoods Kentucky this is your guy. And I must admit, I was riveted to the screen. It seems I couldn't get enough of "Turtleman" who often gets paid in pies, crops or whatever his clients can afford. I think the show reveals a side of America that is still impoverished if nothing else. But by the end of two episodes, I began to wonder if I had wasted an hour of my life. If the gatekeepers at Animal Planet said yes to this show, what did they say no to? There is also a similar show on the History Channel about swamp people who hunt alligators. Not to be out done is A&E's Duck Dynasty featuring a prominent Louisiana family who operate a business dedicated to duck hunters.
If you're not inclined to watch animal based reality shows, then maybe Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is the show for you. Featuring a seven year old beauty pageant contender from McIntyre, Georgia along with her dysfunctional family, the series is a spinoff of another show on TLC called Toddlers & Tiaras. According to TV Guide, "Honey Boo Boo" (Alana Thompson) and her mom June Shannon are "lowering the TV bar to new depths while introducing viewers to the terms 'forklift foot' and 'neck crust'. In a word, ewww". The A.V. club called the show a "horror story posing as a reality television program". And that my friends have been some of the kinder things written about this train wreck of a tv show. Honey Boo Boo is powered by a concoction her mom calls "Go Go juice", containing Red Bull and Mountain Dew. The mom also collects child support checks from each of her four children's fathers. She's a hell of a business woman. The family is reportedly paid about $50,000 per episode which is less than most primetime network drama's wardrobe budgets. No wonder good television comedies and dramas are a thing of the past – "reality" based programs are simply cheaper to produce. But TLC used to stand for The Learning Channel. What are we to learn from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, dysfunction? TLC should now be an acronym for The Looney Channel. If you desire a more upscale version of Honey Boo Boo, than the Kardashians and their many episodic adventures might be up your alley. I had no idea what a Kardashian was until recently. I thought it might be an animal nuisance Turtleman would be involved with.
And just when you think it all went to hell in a hand basket, comes ABC's Splash. It's a show about washed up (literally) celebrities jumping into a pool. Ok, it's a little more complicated than that. They actually have to master difficult dives from "dizzying heights" under the direction of an Olympic diver. That's all fine and good, but do we really want to see the morbidly obese comic Louie Anderson risk becoming a paraplegic or worse with this nonsense? I don't.
And just when I'm about to call it a night, I check my email and discover the spam filters have failed me again. I get the umpteenth message informing me that I'm one lucky son of a bitch. There has been a billionaire investment banker who has died in a tragic plane crash (there are different scenarios of this tragedy), and it has been "mandated" that I receive all of those billions he left behind. Yes, little ol' inconsequential me out of all the people on the planet. Of course I must submit all of my personal info including bank account and other pertinent documents to someone no doubt located in the bowels of some Nigerian boiler room. Well you see where this is heading. There are no gatekeepers.
But if you can't beat 'em, join 'em as Uncle Jed might say. If I ever collect any money from my billionaire benefactor, I have plans to start my own reality series – Celebrity Car Crashes. The way things are going, it's not as far fetched as you think it is. Someone may have already beaten me to the idea. There are no gatekeepers.