04. April 2005 · Comments Off on Memo: TV Lives, Real Life · Categories: European Disunion, General, Media Matters Not

To: The International Set
From: Sgt Mom
Re: Just Because You Watch American TV Programs…

1. Please stop assuming therefore that you just KNOW all about how Americans really live, think, and conduct themselves. A bare handful of television programs currently gracing international airways may, on occasion, reflect the realities of the lives of all those people who live outside the 90210 area code. Most of them do not. Let me break it to you gently, sweet-cakes… it is all made-up. Fiction. Dramatized. Jazzed up, prettied up and sexed up, to attract the eyeballs and the advertising dollar. It is not real, it is faked. It is filmed on a set, for Pete’s sake. And those people are actors.

2. I will allow that international television viewers may glean some kind of superficial knowledge of how Americans talk, and move and dress, of what the scenery looks like, and what the prevailing sense of humor runs toward. But this is a very limited view, and those limits ought to be more acknowledged. Just because I watch “Blackadder” and “Are You Being Served?” does not mean that I know all about English life… or qualify me to pontificate on how those who live there ought to be conducting themselves, politically and socially.

3. Lamentably, this sense of limitations is not reciprocated. I and many of my fellow citizens— especially those of us resident in “Jesus-Land” are fed to the teeth with being portrayed as drooling, gun-toting, uncouth and uncultured racists, addicted to fast food, exhibitionistic religious cults, and violence. Ordinarily, I could not care less what you really think of us, in your heart of hearts, but spreading this kind of manure all over media outlets like this one does a disservice to your own citizens. They are very disappointed when they come around here expecting to see oil-wells, gunfights in the streets, and holy-rolling snake handling at the 10:45 morning communion service at St. Peter the Stodgy Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod). In fact, they are usually rather crushed when they encounter mostly polite and soft-spoken people, libraries and museums stuffed with all that high culture from Europe and elsewhere, and discover that fine food and drink is hugely appreciated, and that there are in fact, two classical music stations in this one city alone.

4. In addition to those generalities, I should like to point out some of the ways in which I vary, rather substantially from the stereotypical American that the European media loves to sneer at. For one thing, I have had a passport, from the age of 16 on (although it has lapsed now). I have never liked coca cola, and I last ate food from McDonalds sometime in 1990. I own my own house, and it is a small one which does not in the least look like Martha Stewarts, even though I have made or refinished much of the interior stuff myself. I do not own a gun, nor do I intend to. Several of my neighbors do, though. I do not have a problem with that. I have also never witnessed, or been the victim of a violent crime. I draw no association between these last two facts, merely point out the coincidence. I have never been to a NASCAR event, or a pro football game, and have no interest in either, but I gracefully accept that there are individuals to whom NASCAR and football are shrines. I think television evangelists are right there with Jerry Springer, and don’t watch any of them (Or much television at all, come to think on it.) True faith gets its butt off the couch and goes to services in a real church. I refuse to be exhibitionist about matters spiritual, sexual, political or financial, on the grounds that all that is my own damn business. My living room is filled with books and Japanese prints, not pictures of Jesus in the Garden or Thomas Kinkade prints of sentimental cottages at twilight. My car is 30 years old, my stereo system is 25, and my television 20; they will be replaced when they break down irreparably, and not a decade before. I have never seen the appeal of Manolo Blahnik shoes, or indeed any shoe with more than 1-inch heels, and have better things to spend my money on; leaving aside the fact that shoes should protect your feet, and you should be able wear them and escape a hungry mountain lion or a collapsing building. I vote for the person, not the party… and I have, in fact, lived and traveled in several foreign countries. I could stand to loose 20 pounds, though.

5. The first person who says , “Oh, but you’re the exception!” — be warned, I will personally hunt you down and slap you silly. We are all exceptions, in one way or the other. To take your cues on this from exported television shows is to do yourselves a disservice.

Sgt. Mom

Comments closed.