Recently, one of the big three newscasts reported on the suicide of Russell Armstrong, a “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” husband. At the end of the story the male reporter looked into the camera and clearly placed the blame on the viewing audience that demands reality programming.
I am the original video-baby, raised in the soft light of the television console in the center of the living room. My best friends were Mickey and Minnie and the Captain. Mr. Greenjeans was my first love. I did my homework by the glow of the TV. I am an addict.
But I do not demand reality programming.
My life has been dramatic enough. I do not need the shrieking and arguing of others to fill my home. I quit watching “The Today Show” twenty years ago; hearing Bryant, and then Matt, sternly demand answers during ‘hard hitting’ interviews was curdling the cream in my coffee.
My guilty pleasure is “Billy the Exterminator.” Kill those vermin, Billy, kill, kill! Okay, so he often relocates the beasts, but I do love that he freaks out as much as I do at the sight of a snake.
I do not watch people from Jersey or kids in beauty pageants or the three KKs who are famous for being famous. And I have no interest in wives who have no idea what reality is. And I know a lot of people who are like me.
Most of them do not own television sets, They have given up. There are a hundred channels-- 53 of them are showing ‘reality’ shows; fifteen are selling things; a dozen are showing all day reruns of shows that bored us the first time around; a dozen sports broadcasts, the big three are showing many versions of “CSI” or “Law & Order” shows; two are cooking channels; PBS and one is classic movies. Then there is that last one that always has the ‘no signal’ sign on. I don’t think it really exists.
The only movies the big three channels ever show are “Independence Day” and “Pearl Harbor.” I never want to see another Ben Affleck movie in my life.
I remember when friends and family used to talk about how funny or poignant a show was. Now they say those things about YouTube clips. I know ONE person who watches “Jersey Shore.” (If that’s you, no judgement. After all I do have Billy.)
Television is losing it’s audience. We are tired of “Real Housewives” and the rest of the arguing and screaming. Current programming is not educational, entertaining or even amusing.
And, Mr. Newscaster, I refuse to take responsibility for Russell Armstrong’s choice to end his life. He made that choice.
Suicide is sad. It is a permanent solution to temporary problems. It is a hateful and merciless revenge. In Mr. Armstrong’s case, it may have been the ultimate act of spousal abuse.