The Happy Mindlessness Of truTV

The other day I was sitting with younger people watching TV.  They were tuned in to the truTV channel and a show that featured footage of apparently drunken rednecks fighting, crashing trucks into ponds, shocking each other with dog collars, and otherwise foolishly putting their lives at risk.  It was completely mindless — and I felt ashamed to even be watching it — but I did laugh at some of the videos.  Who among us doesn’t chuckle at the sight of a rustic type so helplessly drunk that he keeps falling over and losing his pants in the process?

truTV has become one of the most popular “basic cable” channels for the 18 to 49-year-old demographic group, particularly among men.  Given the sophomoric nature of the show I watched, I’m not surprised.  The channel features “reality show” programming like Hardcore Pawn, Storage Hunters and Lizard Lick Towing (none of which I’ve seen) and clip shows like the one I saw.  Some of the clip shows feature the “top 20 most shocking” videos about something.  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that, in every show, at least some of the videos will feature fat guys getting hit in the crotch.

Here’s another welcome thing about truTV — if you’re worried about how D list “celebrities” like Danny Bonaduce from The Partridge Family or former Olympics skater Tonya Harding are faring, you can rest assured.  One of the channel’s shows features such celebrities talking about the “World’s Dumbest” whatever.  They make sarcastic comments about the idiots in the videos and often wear silly hats and costumes in the process.  It seems demeaning — but I’m sure the celebs rationalize the show as post-modern, ironic commentary on society that keeps them in the public eye and are happy to be earning a paycheck.

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