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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Life without television

I don't own a tv.

I'm not trying to sound pretentious or anything, because I love watching tv. I'll watch just about anything. I'll even watch German television (where the best shows are either 1.) almost any show that wasn't actually created by Germans 2.) Dittsche...and 3.) Das perfekte Dinner. Real talk.)

I just don't physically own a tv. However, I find that I don't miss it. Granted, I mostly don't miss it, because I can pretty much watch just about any show I want to online. So, I guess you can say that I don't miss commercials. And that's the 100% truth, I really don't.

For me, television isn't just about mindless entertainment. *Serious face*. It's also about mindless learning. As much as I love to read about...stuff, I also like to have stuff read to me accompanied by moving pictures with maybe some cheesy re-enactments. One could even say that it inspires me to read even more. That's why I am a fan of the 40-42 minute tv "documentary" (60 minutes sans advertisements). They're bite-sized enough to hold my attention, but lacking in enough detail to send me on a quest for more information.

As such, I end up watching a lot of junk from the History Channel. The HC has declined in the past few years, which is a strange thing to say about a channel that has basically built its reputation being the "American Civil War/WWI/WWII and some crap about Middle Ages and a Dinosaur or two"-Channel.

It seems like they've been attempting to attract the Jesus/Armaggedon/Conspiracy Theory/Random Catastrophic Event-Crowd (there's surprisingly a LOT of maybe not so surprising) as of late. Maybe they've been trying to do this for a lot longer and I missed the transition between the time that I had access to a tv and the whole streaming tv thing.

Anyway, I only watch two History Channel shows now: Gangland -- I've been collecting screenshots from this show for over a year and I need to do something with them -- and a little show called Life after People.

Life after People is a bit easier to condense. I don't need any screenshots. Summed up, the premise is that all human life is gone from the Earth and all the pretty shit we built crumbles apart bit by bit without regular maintenance by humans. In fact, the show should just be called Here's How All The Pretty Shit We Built Disintegrates After All The People Are Gone...Ooooooh, CGI.

From a structural engineering point of view, it could be fascinating. I'm not a structural engineer, so I really have no idea what I'm talking about. Although humanity has made huge technological/scientific advancements, the overwhelming majority of this stuff requires people to be around to make sure it's in proper functioning order. I mean, there's that whole artificial intelligence stuff, but the show revolves around what we have right now.

After you watch a few episodes, a pattern emerges. Anything that doesn't run on solar, wind or hydro power shuts off in the first few days. Alternative power sources can last a few decades longer, but not forever. Animals start moving into the places that people once occupied. Buildings start to crumble, things explode and -- to reference classic Seinfeld -- yadda, yadda, 100,000 years barely a trace of human civilization is left. Though, jars of honey have a good chance for survival.

I don't know if the producers are going for a kind of shock factor, it's possible. It's hard to conjure up sympathy when, from the very start, you posit that all human life has been extinguished from the face of the Earth. And it's not like they show all sorts of dead bodies in the streets. They don't get into the hows and whys of human extinction. Everybody is just gone. Mass alien abduction, whatever. No explanation. There are subtle (?) implications of a biblical "rapture"-type event. But as they say in the intro, the population is zero.

The writers tend to ham it up a little bit more when they get into religious symbolism. An ominious voiceover asking if St. Peter's Basilica would stand the test of time, before showing a visualization of the structure tumbling to the ground. Or expounding on the religious significance of the Shroud of Turin and following it up with the artifact being devoured by mold and bacteria.

So, if ALL of humanity is gone, then why should I care what happens to our cities? Our "priceless" works of art? Our____? It's the ultimate moot point. I think I just watch it to see CGI replications of famous monuments fall to pieces. It's like a disaster movie, except you don't even have to worry about people getting hurt...because there are no people in this context.

Yeah, it's sort of like watching 10.5 or its sequel 10.5 Apocalypse or maybe even 2012, except I have zero motivation to give a fuck (and no dreamy John Cusack?)

No matter, I gotta watch something...

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