I’ve created a sort of a litmus test for myself to determine if I’m about to do something stupid, and I fully understand the ridiculousness of that statement. Your thought is likely, “If you’re about to do something stupid, you should realize that,” but the reality is that most people do stupid things without ever realizing it, and being cognizant of this fact is the first step. It’s for this reason that, whenever I come up with an idea that I want to do, I use this test to determine if it’s stupid: I say the idea out loud.
I’m not sure what it is, but there’s just something about saying an idea out loud that, if it is, indeed, idiotic, you realize it almost immediately.
“I’m going to try to vacuum cookie crumbs off of our bed sheets.”
An obviously impractical idea that I once nearly attempted, had I not said the idea out loud, I’d likely still be pulling pieces of our high thread count sheets out of my vacuum, cursing my stupidity in the process. It was the simple act of saying this thought out loud that made me react with the same reaction as if I had heard somebody else say it…thinking “Wow, that is a completely stupid idea that’s going to turn out horribly.”
Since this practice is so completely applicable in my everyday life, I’d encourage others to give it a try…namely those in charge of deciding which television shows go on the air.
“I’m going to create a television show about moving stuff. You know, moving large stuff with trucks.”
Anyone that’s ever watched a moving company empty out a house and then empty back in another house knows this isn’t a process that’s completely enjoyable. I don’t care if that metaphor isn’t entirely accurate…it’s close enough to make my point. Watching people move shit around isn’t television…it’s something you do while you’re waiting for the bus and notice a tow truck is loading a vehicle on a flat bed. The only difference is, when the bus comes, like a commercial coming on, you don’t say to yourself, “Dammit, I really wanted to see how that was going to end.” I hate spoiling the show, but they ended up moving that vehicle.
I’ve seen “American Movers,” and I don’t care how much you defend the show, it’s boring. For those of you that disagree, I want you to say it out loud: “I enjoy watching a show where they move stuff.” How ridiculous do you feel right now?
“I think we should create another show about hog hunting.”
There are currently several…more than two…shows on television about hunting hogs. I don’t what is more discouraging – the fact that there was enough of an unrealized demand for a show about hunting hogs, or the fact that the market is currently big enough to support multiple shows about hog hunting. It’s entirely possible to DVR several days worth of hog hunting in just a couple of weeks now.
“What if we put mentally ill people or people struggling with addiction on television and sold advertising around it?”
I feel absolutely awful when I watch “Hoarders” or “Animal Hoarders” or “Intervention” or any of the other shows where, quite obviously, the show is based on somebody who is mentally unstable. It absolutely blows my mind that society is completely cool with a television network making money selling advertising for a show in which we watch somebody with a mental illness try to quit doing drugs or clean up their living room. It’s not a “documentary,” because those filming also hire somebody to offer assistance to the person having problems, but they also don’t continue to offer the assistance…if they are turned down, or if it doesn’t take, the issue is dropped, sad music is played while captions on a black screen explain what happened to the person, and the episode ends just in time for an advertiser to try and sell us something. It’s for this reason that these shows aren’t so much “documentaries” or “reality television,” but sort of a “Game show of sadness.” Sort of like “Wheel of Fortune,” where the “bankruptcy” tile is replaced with “live in a house full of cat shit.” And what advertiser wouldn’t want to aim at the demographic that is obsessed with watching people grapple with mental illness? (Take note of these…it’s kind of funny in a sick sort of way)
“We should make a show about a pawn shop that buys stuff from people.”
If this statement is followed by anything other than a look that says, “Did you stare at the microwave a lot as a kid?” then you’re not doing your part to quash stupidity. Why they haven’t made a television show about the shady shit that happens in pawn shops is beyond me…I would watch that. What I won’t watch is a variation of “Antique Roadshow” in which the proper British guy is replaced by some moron in a pawn shop that knows barely enough to dress himself in the morning, but can make a phone call to somebody who knows enough about something the person brought in to come into the shop and estimate a value on theeeeeeeeeeee…sorry, I dozed off while typing. I’d rather hang out in an actual pawn shop.
“We should make a show about people that renovate their house.”
Dammit…no. Nobody wants to watch people do that.
“We should make a show about people shopping for wedding dresses.”
Come on now…how many people are dying for jobs at wedding dress shops because it’s so unbelievably interesting? They’re all making hourly wage and wanting to get the hell out of there so they can go home and watch shows about people that use coupons.
“We should make a show about people looking for an apartment.”
I quit…I’m done.
I’m not one of those cynics that says that television programming is a direct representation of our society…it’s not, entirely. To a certain extent, a show is only viable to a network as long as they can find advertisers that are willing to spend money advertising on that network. People will watch some horrible stuff on television, but that program won’t stay on unless there are businesses willing to spend money with the hopes of reaching these people. Unfortunately, the more people that watch, the more enticing it is for advertisers. This begs the question, though, that most people should ask: if this program is so ridiculous that nearly everyone that watches it is, quite possibly, of lower intelligence, what companies are advertising with the obvious mission of attracting stupid people?
Much like the people that put these shows on the air should do, and much like I do when I’m considering pouring hot water on my windshield to get the ice off of it, everyone who sits down and looks at their TV menu for something to watch should first say what they plan to do out loud. If it’s stupid, avoid it and move on.
“I’m going to watch a reality show where they walk around the woods and try to find Big Foot.”
Really? Whatever…I’ve got some snow to mow anyways. That should work, right?