From the Department of Education, which supports the No Child Left Behind Act, we offer a ruling by the anonymous committee given unchecked power to decide such things that some 200 programs are just too strong for the eyes of hearing-impaired viewers.
Effective in October, programs deemed inappropriate by a panel so secret that at least one of its members didn't know he was on it are no longer closed-captioned. Presumably some other members of the five-person committee did know they'd decided that the tender sensibilities of the deaf and hard-of-hearing were being abused by the reckless captioning of such menacing spectacles of vice as, say, "I Dream of Jeannie" and "Emergency Vets," but we'll never find out, as the Department of Ed just ain't telling.
Anyway, while those of us who are not hearing-impaired can apparently catch the crucial nuances of shows about witchcraft (you know, Scooby Doo and Bewitched— the hard-core stuff), independent films, and documentaries on gays in Hollywood, the deaf clearly lack the critical sense to defend themselves from the corrupting forces of the Powerpuff Girls. And while I've been accused of being a conspiracy theorist (chiefly by the vast but mindless right-wing cabal), I propose that the choices made may be based on more than their educational, news, or informational merit.
Consider the following: Nancy Drew, bad; Andy Hardy, good.
Hollywood & the Holocaust, bad; Conflict & World Battle Series, good.
Sanford and Son, bad; The Prince of Egypt, good.
Yes, it's depressing and tedious in its predictability. And I doubt that many tears will be shed over "Shirtless! The Movies' Most Beautiful Men." But it's also a statement that "The Fountainhead" (anti-welfare, anti-union, and dismissive of all the systemic and social elements that keep The Man on top) is better for our souls than the Classic Movies series on BET. And that the hearing impaired should turn off the Simpsons and go back to watching Barney.
And from Fox, which brings us such affronts as . . . well, we know about Fox. But "The Littlest Groom" is so wildly offensive in a Victorian sideshow type of way that a good 40 minutes into the program I was still wondering if it was some spectacularly unsuccessful but undeniably bold satire. A socially challenged Little Person named Glen, who claims to feel not the least bit exploited, chooses from among twelve young lady LPs (some of them attractive and worthwhile people, which is the real shock in a program like this) for, you know, true love and a free vacation. Into the middle of this questionable scenario are now introduced three buxom and marginally sentient ASPs— an apt acronym, in this case, for average sized persons. The customary public humiliations, jockeying for preference, and obscene hot tub frolics ensue, but the core question has changed:
"Will Glen decide that 'good things come in small packages?' Or that 'opposites attract?' "
Just as we were all about to be lulled into thinking that relationships, even on Fox, might have something to do with intellectual and emotional connection and compatibility on a number of levels, we're reminded that it's actually all about watching midgets get it on. Hackneyed cliffhanger tags aside, the basic assumption is clearly that no reasonable person—even Glen, who might be expected to have some useful perspective on the issue—could possibly fail to find AS women with decidedly not AS breasts more attractive than any LP competitor. What, after all, could be more opposite than physical type? What a refreshing take on groups marginalized by mainstream society! Titillating birds-eye shots of monstrous cleavage. AS women in bikinis and clear plastic stiletto heels. Porn music soundtrack for four-way introductory hot tub champagne challenge, closed by Glen pointing both index fingers at us, pistol-like, as if to say, "hot, baby. crazy hot!" I'm not sure he didn't say it, in fact, but the porn music at that point became deafening and the conversation secondary. Anyway, the point is that this is all clearly designed to make the LP women go to unusual lengths to "win" Glen's affection. As he says himself,
"If she wants it, she's got to work for it."
Excellent. They really will get it on before the horrified and fascinated eyes of America. Cut to trailer for next week: a shower scene involving the rapidly degenerating Glen and all three of the ASPs; then one depicting the iron resolve of an LP competitrix, whose vow to do "whatever it takes" is actualized in the form of stripping buckass naked before a thrilled but vaguely apprehensive Glen, also in the bathroom. She is, we learn early on in Episode One, determined to win.
Win what? Glen? Glen started out a dull but innocuous LP Everyman, and is becoming sleazier and more extravagantly false with every frame. He is the apotheosis of reality tv's message about men: if they're not grasping, stupid, and shallow yet, just give them another season.
But there's no real material payoff, either. Even the woman in "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancee'," which I will not even begin to address, will get $500,000 if she hauls her carcass to the altar; Glen and whatever unfortunate lasts longest will get a vacation. Not of their own choosing. Oh, yes, and they'll also get Each Other. Never mind that the joy of another person's company has never been considered sufficient compensation for AS couples on similarly repugnant and absurd programs. Fox, we are meant to understand, is actually doing these poor people a favor by systematically destroying their dignity on national television. How else are LPs outside the carnival circuit going to find love? Good old Fox. Thank god the producer watched that one episode of "Man vs. Beast"— forty LPs competing against an elephant in an airplane-pulling contest— and decided to give America "a chance to look thorough the eyes of a little person and see what it's like."
So, will the desire for Normalcy and its giant breasts overcome the undeniable logic of sticking with one's Own Kind? Well, better tune in next Monday to find out, because it's a two-part fucking MINIseries! The article on MSNBC about the show, which compares the freakshow exploitation of decent but misguided people with the dry-eyed sensitivity of recent indie film "The Station Agent," at least when I opened it, featured a banner that read: "Suffering from SCHITZOPHRENIA? See how other people cope— click here to read their stories . . ." The message being, presumably, that when we're done goggling at midget golf and speculating on where Victoria's Secret keeps its LP line, we can continue to cosset our sick fascination for the misfortunes of others by becoming voyeurs of mental illness. Thankee. As soon as I'm done checking out that site on Edwardian taxidermied eight-legged hermaphroditic piglets for sale (true,arranged in the posture of a vaudeville clog dancer), I'll head right over. Should even these pleasures pall, there's some guy with a fetish site on girls eating sandwiches. Enjoy.
And, finally, a short word of wisdom from Jesus Goes to Hollywood, Mel Gibson. Asked by Diane Sawyer on ABC's Primetime if he's an anti-Semite, Mel shoots back, "No. Of course not. It goes against the tenets of my faith—anti-Semitism is a Sin. And, you know, I watched 'Schindler's List.' What the Germans did to those people was terrible."
Indeed. Sucks to be a victim of the Holocaust, you miserable halfwit. But, hey, at least they weren't deaf midgets looking for love.
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