Recently my dad’s been obsessed with watching Perry Mason. I’m not talking about some hip new reboot/prequel on the CW network starring Ben McKenzie as a young P-Mas in which the character is “updated” from the square jawed All-American defender of innocence to a tortured little whiny, millennial Emo Kylo Ren version of himself. Nope- I’m talking about the original show from the 1950’s- black and white film, black and white values and all white cast.
I mean- how ridiculous is it that with all the hundreds of content streams to choose from, he’s watching a show that’s 60 years old? My wife and I laugh about it all the time while we’re watching Card Sharks in the morning on Game Show Network. Of course, we stop once $25,000 Pyramid comes on- cause that shit takes FOCUS. Trust me- you do not want to screw up- especially when you’re playing for the big money- because, if you do, once time expires, Dick Clark will come down from his mighty podium like a vengeful yet strangely avuncular God and force you to keep guessing meaninglessly until you figure out the category you missed just to rub in your face what a moron you are. It’s like- if you were a little smarter or a little quicker you could have guessed that when the gay neighbor from Webster was saying “an old photo, a shot in a movie, your chances of winning” the category was “things that fade” not “things that look good” – but you botched it and so instead of winning $25,000 you’re walking away with a measly $750 which in 1986 was just barely enough money to buy a medium sized house- and Clark’s gonna make sure you feel as lousy as possible about it. Gives new meaning to “Dick move”.
Look, I’m not naive enough to think the past was perfect. The 50’s was a great time, if you were a white guy (but has there ever been a bad time?) The 70’s had Cher, wide lapels and disco- and that was the good stuff! It was also a decade full of disturbing and unsettling developments- Watergate, the Iran hostage crisis, Jack Klugman being considered a sex symbol. And the 80’s? Hell, we didn’t think we would get out of the 80’s alive. We were positive that if it wasn’t crack or AIDS or Reaganomics then surely it would be the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb that would kill us.
But, of course, it didn’t. Turns out the Russians loved their children too (Putin doesn’t) and we managed to make it through the 80’s alive. And while this was a bit of a rude awakening for those of us who spent the decade not doing our homework and sneering at guidance counselors cause “what does it matter man?? We’re all gonna die!!!” it was probably all for the best.
And maybe that’s why we’re so drawn to TV from past decades. Because we know how the story ends. Look, we’re here! We made it! We can look back with a smile at those things that once terrified us and talk about them with bemused detachment like we’re telling the story of a turbulent flight at a warm dinner party with friends.
Or maybe it’s cause everything about 2015 was scary and horrible and the only way to maintain our sanity in the face of almost certain cultural and global collapse is to bury our heads in old game shows and black and white courtroom dramas. Yeah- it’s probably that.
Anyhow- 2015 has ended, and I have, despite my best intentions paid a little bit of attention- so here were the the four best reasons to avoid reality in last year.
Reason #1- The Dumb Shit that College Students Believe These Days Which is Even Dumber than the Dumb Shit I Believed When I Was a Dumb Shit College Student
When I was at SUNY Albany back in the early 1930’s, our school was voted as having the worst food in the country. We were also voted #1 party school- which gave rise to the popular joke “the food’s not nice but you taste it twice!” (NOTE: this joke was never popular). Anyhow, things got particularly dire towards the end of the semester when they were running short on cash- having blown their budget on sumptuous feasts like hot open faced Oscar Mayer turkey sandwiches with beige mucus gravy and toxic cranberry goo, and they began to get creative… or rather, more creative. And one of the byproducts of their creativity was the “taco nugget”….which is…exactly as terrible as you think it is. Now, at the time, we were not as enlightened as college students today, so we simply thought of these taco nuggets as “gross” or “grody” or ” nastachious to the extreme” but now, looking back on it from a more fully aware view point I recognize that what was truly nastachious about taco nuggets was not the flavor, but the implicit racism.
Clearly the white supremacists who ran the SUNY Albany cafeteria appropriated the authentic food of the Mexican people, colonized it into a nugget and served it up to us with a micro-aggression baked right inside (the micro-aggression is what gives the nugget it’s zip. Who knew that racism could be as tasty as MSG- and as toxic!!) If only we had been as culturally aware as the students of Oberlin College in 2015, who raised their Tweets in protest when their university served culturally inauthentic Asian cuisine- including Banh Mi sandwiches on CIABATTA BREAD (SHOCKING!), sushi with UNDERCOOKED rice (OH, THE HUMANITY!) and, most disturbing of all, General Tso’s chicken with….STEAMED CHICKEN instead of fried. Can you imagine??? They might as well just serve a burning cross on a plate (with undercooked rice). How dare the fascist oppressors running Oberlin’s food service COLONIZE this proud, traditional, authentic Chinese dish which dates all the way back to the Old Country (New York’s Chinatown) in the 1960’s. Don’t they realize what a threat this type of blatant cultural appropriation poses to the safe space which today’s sensitive college students so desperately need for their intellectual development so that they can do bong hits, puke blood and fuck each other raw in an accepting and culturally sensitive environment (dorm shower)? What’s next? Orange Drink chicken? Egg Beaters Drop Soup? Chicken McNugget Chow Mein? Will the rape of cultures never cease???? (SPOILER ALERT: No. Also- Chicken McNugget Chow Mein sounds kind of amazing. Does that make me a racist, too???? (SPOILER ALERT: Kinda))
Look, I think it’s great that you college kids want to get involved in politics and I seriously mean that in the least patronizing way possible. Hell. I was sort of an activist in college myself and I firmly believe that none of the social change we’ve witnessed in the last century would have transpired had young people not raised their voices in protest. But you’ve gotta be smart about it. When you raise your voice in protest, you don’t want to sound like an idiot, cause nobody wants to listen to a loud idiot who isn’t running for president. So- focus on the issues that matter- climate change, economic inequality, the relentless attacks on Planned Parenthood, police brutality- you know the MACRO-aggressions. Because when you raise your voice in protest over being served a sub-par banh mi at the prestigious private liberal arts college which your mommy and daddy are paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for you to have the privilege to attend and you claim that you’re being oppressed by food service workers who make less in a year than you spend on weed…well, you sound like an idiot. A big, dumb idiot. Just like when you shut down a yoga class for disabled students because of “cultural genocide” or you insist that your professor provide a trigger warning when teaching The Great Gatsby because it portrays misogyny (both true stories). You’re a tortured little whiny, millennial Emo Kylo Ren version of an activist and nobody takes you seriously. Which is a shame- cause you’ve probably got a lot of stuff to say about the world that we really do need to hear. But we won’t. Go drown your sorrows in cafeteria sushi.
Look, it’s very simple. When deciding whether to raise your voice in protest just follow this rule- black lives matter – General Tso’s chicken doesn’t. Seriously, not even General Tso would think that was worth fighting over (especially because he would have had no fucking clue what General Tso’s chicken was). Just stick to this little guideline, kiddies and you’ll be just fine- and I seriously mean that in the most non-patronizing way possible.
But even the dumb shittiest of all dumb shit college students can never hope to compete with:
Reason #2- The Big Dumb Shit
Here’s the problem with talking about Donald Trump. Whether you’re praising, criticizing, lampooning, lambasting, lauding, dismissing, condemning, wringing your hands over, skywriting about, pontificating about the significance of or shaking your head in disbelief at the unabashed loathsomeness of Donald Trump- you are still TALKING ABOUT Donald Trump- and talking about Donald Trump is the worst possible thing you can do. Because Donald Trump is like a bloated, fascist Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon and words are the helium that makes him rise up in the polls. And so the best thing we can possibly do, as Americans is STOP TALKING ABOUT DONALD TRUMP.
And I know that those of you in the mainstream media are gonna say that’s impossible- and I know where you’re coming from. Look, I don’t hate you media types- I know that you’re just people trying to do a good job, same as me. And I totally understand that because you’re a bunch of lazy, superficial, star fucking, fame whore click bait junkies (and I seriously mean that in the most empathetic way possible) you feel compelled to talk about a noxious celebrity billionaire Mussolini knock-off with a mouth like toxic waste dump (and I don’t actually mean that empathetically at all cause fuck that guy) So I have a tip for you- whenever you feel compelled to talk about Donald Trump- just talk about Bernie Sanders instead. It’s the perfect solution! Just think of Sanders as the Methadone for your Trump addiction.
And I know you’re gonna say that you have to talk about Trump because you’ve got some sacred duty to report the news- but that’s just one more reason why you should be talking about Sanders. Because Bernie Sanders- not Donald Trump- is the real story of the 2016 election and if you ever bothered to pull your well coiffed heads out of Trump’s pompadoured asshole, you would know that. Because- yes- a lot of us in America are angry, we do feel like we’ve been getting a raw deal and we are fed up. And yeah- a lot of us do feel sick at heart when we look at what’s become of our once great nation- and we want to make America better than it’s ever been- AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHY WE’RE VOTING FOR SANDERS. That’s why Bernie raised $33 million from over 2.5 million individual donors in the fourth quarter of 2015, that’s why he crushed Donald Trump in an online poll conducted by FOX NEWS, and that’s why he has come from total obscurity to force the whole conversation in the Democratic party to the left and has forced Hilary Republican Clinton to pay lip service to progressive issues- AND ALL OF THIS WITHOUT ONE WORD FROM YOU FUCKERS. You’re so busy falling over yourselves to breathlessly cover Trump’s latest burst of racist flatulence that you don’t see the revolution taking place right under your wet, brown noses.
But, of course, that’s exactly the way the DNC likes it. If the GOP was really serious about getting rid of Trump, they would fire Reince Priebus and hire Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Hell, if she were running things over there, Trump would be as talked about as Martin O’ Malley and JEB! would have a double digit lead.
Not that Dear Leader Debbie would ever actually own up to squelching dissent. Why she would be aghast at the very thought! “How can you say that I’m insulating Hilary by not providing opportunities for opposing candidates to confront her in a debate. I scheduled SIX WHOLE DEBATES! And one of them is on the biggest TV viewing night of the year- the Saturday before Christmas! Surely everyone in America watched that debate. OK, so sure, a FEW people might have been going to holiday parties. And I guess there was just a teensy tiny portion of the population that might have been traveling to see family. Or preparing to travel. Or preparing to receive family traveling from out of town. Or cooking. Or shopping. Or decorating. Or out seeing the Nutcracker. Or Christmas Carol. Or A Christmas Story: The Musical. Or- oh yeah – fucking STAR WARS. But certainly there were still a lot of Americans at home watching TV who could see the debate. You know, unless they were watching Frosty the Snowman. Or college Bowl games. Or, oh yeah- fucking NFL FOOTBALL. But certainly it was the PERFECT debate viewing night for football hating Jews with no friends or family who think Star Wars is dumb- and, hey- those sound like Bernie Sanders’ people to me- so, there- you’re welcome! Of course, Bernie won’t have any way to reach these people when I take away his access to voter data due to some bullshit data breach- but, you know, rules are rules! Can’t be making exceptions- after all- you know how seriously Hilary takes data integrity!”
You really have to admire her style- she’s the Passive Aggressive Commandant of the Clinton Secret Police. Hilary should really keep her around if she comes to power. “Gosh- I’m sorry you’re stuck in Guantanamo Bay with no due process. The good news is that we’re planning to have a trial for you…on the Saturday before Christmas. Assuming of course, we can find a judge who isn’t traveling, or attending a holiday party, or watching football, or….”
But despite Data Breach Debbie’s machinations and Il Duce Trump’s blustering, Bernie continues to gain momentum. And so, if you Mainstream Media Whores are looking for a New Year’s resolution- how about covering the fucking Sanders campaign in 2016 and NOT TALKING ABOUT TRUMP ANYMORE. If you do that, I might just stop watching GSN in the morning and might actually watch the news.
But, of course, as soon as I do- I’ll see something that will scare me right back to Card Sharks like:
Reason #3: Crazy White People with Guns
I’ve covered this one pretty well in my last post– so really, all I want to add is that if 150 armed black people took over a federal building, the media would call them thugs and the cops would shoot them dead, and if 150 armed Muslims did it, the media would call them terrorists and the Army would invade Syria. But 150 armed white dudes storm in and take over a federal building- and the media calls them “protesters” and “patriots” and the government is all “well, let’s wait and see what happens here. I don’t think they pose any real threat- after all, it’s just an armed insurrection against the U.S. Government – it’s not like they attacked a CVS or something.” It’s like no matter how batshit crazy they are, we’re just incapable as a nation of thinking of white people as a threat – we just call them YallQueda and pinch their bearded cheeks and think the whole fucking thing is cute. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if TLC is developing a reality show around these maniacs- they can call it the Bundy Bunch (It’s a story/of a man named Bundy/who would graze his cows on land that’s not his own/and his son thought that the fedr’al gubment/it should be overthrown.) Don’t get me wrong- it’s not like I want this thing to escalate and get violent- I’m glad we’re taking a thoughtful, measured approach. I just look forward to us taking the same measured, thoughtful approach the next time Black Lives Matter organizes a peaceful protest at a shopping mall, or a 12 year old kid is seen holding a toy gun.
Also- I was sorry to see that they were so desperate to get snacks. I guess if they want crackers, they’ll have to resort to cannibalism.
Anyhow, I think you’ll agree that these were three perfectly good reasons to avoid reality in 2015, but by far and away, the best reason of all was:
Reason #4: Fear of Exposure to Star Wars Spoilers
For the love of God- I’m only human!
Actually, I’ve already seen it- so we’re all good with this one. And, I have to say- if you haven’t seen it yet- it’s chock full of surprises! C3PO coming out of the closet, Luke finally gets to Tosche Station to pick up those stupid power converters and, of course a reunion between the two lovers whose fleeting relationship was so touchingly portrayed in the original movies and sadly cut short (Leia and Jabba the Hutt)- and, of course, the cameo by Run DMC in the Cantina (It’s Star Wars time in Tatooine / Han’s shooting Greedo in the Canteen…a)
OK- so now that I’ve seen Star Wars, that’s one less reason to avoid reality- but, no worries- there are still so many more! Climate change, economic inequality, the relentless attacks on Planned Parenthood, police brutality and all the other macro-aggressions. I wish those college activists all the luck in the world taking them on- and I would gladly join in the struggle with them- but, you know $25,000 Pyramid is on- and that shit takes FOCUS.
Happy New Year! I think 1986’s gonna be a great one- that is, of course, assuming WE DON’T ALL DIE. I can only hope the Bundys love their children, too. Now- who wants Taco Nuggets?