Doc Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Low Channels

The cable service in my home area of central New York State has arranged the channels with what I presume are the “undesirables” clustered together at the bottom of the dial. These include CSPAN, CSPAN2 and public access. Now I might be crazy, but I truly enjoy the low channels. CSPAN seems to be a love it/hate it for most people and pretty much everybody knows what it’s about so I won’t belabor it. But then there’s public access.

Public access: The name conjures images of bad video from the polka party at the senior center or a local show concerning the intricacies of stamp collecting for those on a budget and an aversion to glue. I don’t know what the rules are for public access programming, but on our system I often see shows that were created a thousand or more miles from here. I have a funny feeling that that was not the original intent of public access. On the other hand, if the channel was limited to, say, a 100 mile radius, I’d never get to see shows like “Conservative Roundtable”. Granted, the show is a bit predictable what with the twin photo poster backdrops of a waving flag on one side matched to an in vivo embryo on the other, but where else can you watch a TV host in a cheap suit who is clearly in need of a shower and instructions on how to use a clothes iron blather on and on about the need for estate tax reform while sitting behind a desk that’s barely a step up from cardboard?

Undoubtedly the best material from the viewpoint of inadvertent humor comes from the religious shows. Two shows come to mind immediately. First there’s the lovely “House of Yahweh” which I lovingly refer to as “House of Yahoos” produced out of Texas. It’s your basic blend of end-of-times warnings and admonishments as delivered by an often smiling elderly gent who appears to have been hit over the head by a two by four a couple times too many. If he was a cartoon he’d have those little stars circling around his noggin. In light of this observation his pronouncements suddenly seem to make perfect sense. On the other end we have “Tomorrow’s World” (AKA “Dumb-morrow’s World”) out of North Carolina. The approach here is much more earnest than “House”, featuring a stern gray haired preacher who peels off quote after quote from “the good book” to support his screeds against “fornicators and homosexuals” and well, as far as I can determine, just about anyone who doesn’t agree with his narrow view of “acceptable and moral behavior”. This is end-of-times gold. He stares straight into the camera and in no uncertain terms proclaims that the end is coming, soon, and you’d better get on board if you don’t want to experience a personal global warming of a biblical magnitude. I am continually amazed at how he manages to tie in so many of society’s ills to a lack of adherence to his particular religious scheme.

These shows, as bizarre as the content can sometimes be, at the very least have semi-professional production standards even though they are boring at best. Hey, I don’t expect great cinematography with my free inadvertent humor. Every now and then though, a real jewel pops up. No, I’m not talking about the local evangelical services that they broadcast, although I must admit that watching a bunch of pudgy, middle class clones sway back and forth to an insipid musical accompaniment makes me giggle (gotta keep it simple so the nice white folks can follow the beat).

The other day I saw something that made me do a double take. I think it was a local broadcast but I’m not sure. Whatever it was, they had decided to use an extreme amount of video compression while filming the minister giving his talk. The end result was that whenever the minister moved, he was surrounded by huge pixilated chunks of his body and the background. I can only imagine that the effect would be quite impressive following the ingestion of hallucinogenic aids (not that I recommend that sort of thing). But that wasn’t the craziest thing. The truly wacky part was the subject and detail of his talk. Unfortunately, I had missed the very beginning, but the minister was apparently referring to the relatively recent announcement of “Mitochondrial Eve” to prove a literal interpretation of Genesis. I don’t know if this guy’s an end-of-times pusher like our other TV friends, but if he is, he’s certain that the ride ain’t gonna last more than 6500 years. As anyone who is familiar with Mitochondrial Eve will have figured out by now, this fellow completely misunderstood and misapplied the results. He went to great pains, though, to explain how these scientists had, with the use of modern biology, chemistry, and so forth, essentially proved that the Biblical Eve had existed. I’m sure his audience was duly impressed. The punch line came when he said that the researchers calculated that Eve walked the Earth 200,000 years ago. In a quick and dismissive tone he said (paraphrasing) “Of course, you can’t trust these scientists with this date. We know that it is way off. We know that the real date is 6500 years ago.” It was just so matter-of-fact that I nearly fell off the couch. I wonder how many of his so-called “flock” understood that he was denigrating the parts of science that didn’t fit his world view, misinterpreting the parts that could be bent to conform, and ultimately hijacking the credibility of science for his uses while trashing it in favor of blind faith at the same time? The hypocrisy was monumental.

As the comedian said, “You can’t write this stuff it’s so good.”


At 6:33 PM, Blogger Jim said...

I happened to catch some of "the pixelated show" after the post night. They fixed the gross pixelation but there were still noticeable edgies. This time, though, the audio had about a 2 to 3 second delay compared to the video. It made the usual tirade of moral indignance against them "homersexuuls" much more entertaining. Now if I can only get them to combine the pixelation with the delay and a really screaming young earth diatribe against science (after a couple of good Saranac ales), I think they'll have some serious entertainment potential on a global scale.


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