Cape Town - Some stats show Americans watch an average of four hours of television a day. One suspects many South Africans are no different.
That’s a full six years of non-stop watching since TV began in 1975. But that’s not the worst part. It’s WHAT they are watching that’s seriously depressing.
Admittedly, the arrival of TV in South Africa was cool for my brothers and me. We had our favourites - like Airwolf, Knight Rider, Magnum PI, MacGyver and The A-Team.
Although they were all skop, skiet en donner, no one ever died. There was no gratuitous graphic violence.
We watched on a tiny black-and-white portable TV, smaller than your average microwave of today, with a wire coat hanger sticking out the broken aerial to try to improve the snowstorm we peered through.
We watched TV in tiny doses - 45 minutes of boys’ fun twice a week before we headed off outside to roam free.
By our mid to late teens, our limited TV diet was pure comedy, and the servings were rich. We’d also discovered a new trick: whenever someone went overseas, we’d get them to bring back a Complete Works – of Fawlty Towers, Black Adder and, of course, the adventures of George, Kramer, Elaine and Jerry in Seinfeld.
There are, indeed, two types of people in this world: people who love Seinfeld, and people who “just don’t get it”. Once you’ve entered Jerry’s mind, the world is an altogether cheerier place.
When you next see that dour male office worker on Adderley Street, so enraptured by the braless woman joggling along the zebra crossing that he’s almost totalled by a MyCiTi bus, all those hysterically funny memories will come flooding back, poking fun at our multitude of idiosyncrasies.
Seinfeld, Rowan Atkinson and John Cleese’s genius was a genuine gift.
Fast-forward to this Tuesday night. I was asked: “Shall we watch something together?” And so the search began. If you were labouring under the delusion that the world is a healthy, progressive place, then get yourself comfortable on the couch and flick that programme button.
After a full 10 minutes, we’d found the following: A reality show on people cheating on their spouses. A karaoke show featuring two obese people who were naked – their body parts limp like pieces of kelp. A man tattooed up to his neck like a reptile – we didn’t stick around to find out why. A Tarantino movie in which a decapitated man’s brains sprayed out like Keith Kirsten’s garden hose. And so it went.
Out of dozens of channels, the vast majority depicted scenes of seriously messed-up behaviour. The comedy was “obvious”, the violence grotesque, the “culture” plastic, garish or plain sick – normally all three.
We eventually settled on a Koos Kombuis live concert – he’d almost finished his first, or possibly second, bottle of Tassies, suiping from the neck.
He was the most sane, by far.
Is it just me, or is satellite TV a seriously disturbing place? And for R695 a month? - Cape Argus