Comfortably Numb

I recently found out that CBS' Becker is going into syndication. We can now all watch Becker five times a week. We can now come home, cast our troubles aside, and unwind from our daily oppression by tuning in to Becker. You know what they're trying to do to us, don't you? Numb us into submission.

And don't tell me you don't know who "they" are, either. They're the same people who gather somewhere in that secret little room I've written so much about, the ones who make all of this country's most ominous decisions, the same ones poised with their fingers over several lethal red buttonsone button that sets the war machine in motion, one that drops the bomb, one that greenlights the continuous television loop of a program no watches except 75-year-olds doing needlepoint and secretly hoping that Dick Van Dyke will walk into Ted Danson's N.Y.C. clinic so the two of them can begin solving mysteries. Time was when a body could collapse into a bean bag and feel content in the broadcast arms of Mary Tyler Moore; these days, they throw Brooke Shields at you 24/7 as though Suddenly Susan were a perfect showcase for comedic gifts we all knew were hiding just beneath those eyebrows.

It's all an attempt to force some kind of eerie ennui into our consciousness: Don't move. Don't think. Don't care. Nothing out there is allowed to excite the slightest bit of interest in our mass culture. Popular music seems more than ever filled with interchangeable names playing interchangeable music. And how can anyone get worked up over some new television reality show when any given night of the week you can tune in to some whore competing against more whores to see which whore gets the money and/or a night with one of the other whores?

God knows the movies aren't out to help us did you rush out to see Terminator 3? Case closed. Even seeing stuff that can provide a healthy dose of good ol' fashioned American pop derision is discouraged. To hell with the overblown flap against Gigliany movie that has J.Lo playing a philosophical lesbian thug who looks great in low-riders and does yoga while singing the praises of her vagina is OK by me. The thing has made about $12.50 at the box office, but I thought that's what Hollywood was for. (The movie gets even better when La Lopez pauses to discuss some ancient "Chinese military theoretician." My Icee almost came out my nose: I love me some Jennifer, but I doubt she has ever even used the words "military" or "theoretician," and I'll bet "Chinese" only pops out with an exclamation point when she's browbeating the personal assistant who mistakenly brought her Thai for lunch.)

We're not allowed dumb joy anymore; it's all about submission. Oh, sure, I'm still getting comments from raving lunatics claiming that Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is breaking new ground by waking the entire country to the human charms of clean, witty homosexuals. Say what you will, kids, but I swear on The Birdcage that it's only a year or two until Queer's flaming Carson is trading barbs with JM J. Bullock on Hollywood Squares. Now kick back with that copy of InStyle and shut up, will you?

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