Monday, October 20, 2008

The Downfall of McMerica

Americans are getting fatter and fatter. I'm sorry if you're fat and this offends you, but so be it. We, as a people, are getting bigger, fatter, lazier, and I don't think it will be long before some unsuspecting surgeon cracks open the chest of some middle management drone from Akron and finds a Super Size order of McFries right there in the left ventricle.

Sure, we have health craze spurts every now and again, but the number of treadmills currently treading mills are far out numbered by the ones that currently act as clothes hangers. The folks that dutifully order entrees with the little hearts next to them would be trampled by the early morning Ultimate Omletters (yes, the Burger King and his big giant creepy head are actually seeing success serving up heart disease on a warm toasted bun). Our health club membership cards are collecting more dust than our Swiffers could ever hope to.

Yup, here in McMerica we're getting lazy, fat, slovenly, and there's no end in sight. We're a society of people who throw our gnawed on fried chicken bones out the car window, aiming for that jogger. We're a land of folks who habitually pump four dollar a gallon gas into our suburban utility vehicles while the bicycle in the garage becomes a future middle school science project on oxidation. We're a country that takes a perfectly nutritious, chock full o' vitamins vegetable, and deep fries it. Really, was there an outcry in the streets for someone to start fat frying green beans? Come on people, when is it enough cholesterol?

I'll tell you why we are the way we are today too. It's TV. I put 100% of the blame on TV. No, this isn't going the direction you think it is. What I'm saying is that TV now-a-days is too good. CSI:Tuscaloosa and Distraught Soccer Moms and Attractive People Trapped on an Island are all too good. I can't recall shows being this good back when I was a kid, and that's the problem. There are no good kids TV shows that encourage today's youth to go outside and play.

What you say? That's contradictory? Nope. Wait. Listen. Learn. Nod in agreement.

When I was a kid we had the greatest horrible TV shows ever. We had the Dukes of Hazard, with the car jumping, police evading, saloon fighting Duke boys always ready for action. We had the A-Team, chockfull of damsel/dude in distress, save the day heroics. We had Knight Rider, well Knight Rider had a freakin' talking car. How cool is that? We had Shatner rolling over the hood of his car; super-powerCourtney Cox; Richard Dean Anderson making a bomb from a grapefruit, an adult diaper, and a clothes pin; a dude that turned into a panther; Don Johnson's day-glo socks; Major Dad solving crimes with some blond headed dude, and two different Lee Majors vehicles.

The problem today's kids face, and the reason why McMerica is become obeser and obeser by the second (in fact we, as a nation are consuming forty-two trillion Double Whoppers with Cheese while you read this sentence) is there isn't enough great horrible TV show for kids to watch.

TV shows used to inspire play. You'd get a buddy, you'd be Bo Duke, he'd be Luke Duke and you'd sit under the picnic table in Mrs. Stein'sbackyard, driving that bad boy around, jumping imaginary rivers and crashing invisible road blocks. Sometimes the Duke boys would crash that picnic table up and have to jump on there vintage Huffy/Schwinn motorcycles to evade Roscoe P. Coltrane (aka the little sister). If you absolutely had to, a third pal could join in, but if Eddie didn't want to be Cooter, he'd have to make up a third Duke, usually it was Han Solo Duke.

If there were four of you, that bad ass picnic table would be Mr. T's van. And your little gang was a team of underground vigilantes who almost shot people and blew up stuff that was kinda near the bad guys. Shows like The A-Team led to endless hours of me being Hannibal, the smart one; Tristan as Murdock, the crazy one; and Mitch asB.A., the strong one. Eddie never wanted to be Face, the pretty one (what little boy ever wanted to be the pretty one), so he was usually Han Solo A-Team.

Even if you had no friends, you could be Knight Rider and hop underneath that picnic table and talk to it. Sure, that's a little creepy and sad, but at least those kids were outside, running around, pretending to solve mysteries, calling the picnic table to come rescue them whenever trouble arose. If things got too hairy for you and your version of Kitt crashed, you could always call an imaginary Han Solo Car to come to your aid.

That's just the way TV shows were back in the day. TV shows that were so bad that you had to go outside and act them out yourselves and make them better. Shows like Misfits of Science, Manimal, The GreatestAmerican Hero, Wonder Woman, V, McGyver, TJ Hooker, The Fall Guy, The Six Million Dollar Man, Simon and Simon, Riptide, The Incredible Hulk, and Miami Vice.

These shows were so bad that they were awesome. These shows encouraged kids to get up and go outside. Now we have theaptly named Jackass.

Back then we had horrible video games. You spend too much time slothing away in the house, you'd burn out your retinas playing Pong, or if you had no friends, you'd play vertical pong, also known as Breakout. If you played those games for more than half an hour, with lack of motion, animation, or change of scenery, your eyes would dry out and you'd lose the ability to blink.

Come on, there's not a soul in my age bracket who didn't have dreams, or perhaps nightmares, about the Tetris pieces not quite fitting right.

Now video games are so cool that I'm not sure why anyone would want to participate in real life. There's no need to pretend your Bo or Luke or Han Solo Duke out under the picnic table when Nintendo can get a General Lee for you.

America is in danger or losing its imagination. We're in danger of sinking into the couch, our cottagey cheesey thighs and overhanging bellies getting in the way of any sort of physical activity. We need to get kids out there flying in invisible jets; warning each other that they won't like them when they're angry, jumping off the front porch over the bushes making the Bionic Woman nenenenenenenenenenenenenoise as they go... We need Spidey and Friends, we need The Goonies, we need Star Wars movies where the heroes are actually the good guys...

Before too long we're going to be big lumps o' goo, stuck in between the arms of the barcalounger, McMeal in one fist, game controller in the other, wishing that Jack Bauer and Gil Grissom could solve all our real problems. I wish they could, perhaps if they had a partner. MayI suggest Han Solo?

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Always Home and Uncool said...

Unfortunately, Shatner can barely roll over his lines these days ...

Thanks for the trip to my childhood.

PlainOleMike said...

home and uncool - Shatner will forever be nimble in my memories though.

Nicole said...

you hit this point exactly!! its true i was just talking with a friend the other day about how all kids are fat because they don't ride bikes anymore(when and if they even leave the house). I remember not having anywhere or anything to do but just getting on my bike and riding around..what a concept..ahh memories..anyway good post made me laugh!!

Bill said...

All true! However, the American 'fatness' is spreading around the world as their fast food diet spreads. I've read reports about Muslims gaining weight, about the Japanese, the Chinese, even (gasp) Canadians lol. No doubt it has a lot to do with lack of exercise, but the modern diet is the killer.