One of my mentors – the late, great Ernie Schier – used to say, “There’s no percentage in patting idiots on the head.”
His lesson came in a seminar on theater criticism and was directed at the notion that amateur productions deserved a little slack when it came to reviews. His point was that, if you’re charging money, you’re fair game. Forget good intentions – the road to hell and all that.
Yet the TV airwaves are awash in the kind of idiocy that can only dim our children’s IQs and numb the rest of us to what’s really going on in the world.
It’s not that I don’t like to be entertained. It’s just that, well, there’s no percentage in patting idiots on the head.
So let’s just come out and say it:
Should it scare us that we’ve made hits of shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol,” with their successful attempts at defining talent downward?
Should we be frightened that “Bret Michaels Rock of Love” continues to spread its cold sores, long after Poison, a band that was a copy of a carbon of a Xerox, disintegrated?
Should we be alarmed that “Survivor” – the ongoing battle of the dirtballs – continues to be a ratings success?
Should the penalty for being fired on “Celebrity Apprentice” be death – so that these desperate has-beens no longer pollute our airwaves – or dilute the notion of who or what a celebrity is? (I know – too late on that one, but still…)
Should we bring back the ages-old notion of “shaming” – and apply it to anyone who got caught as part of the mob scene outside the cattle call for “America’s Next Top Model”? Or to anyone who watches the show? Or to Tyra Banks?
All of these are cause for alarm. Now here’s the latest true sign of the cultural apocalypse:
It’s a title that hints, among other things, that Ozzy and family ought to be considering rehab, rather than doing a TV show.
But no more so than the Fox network – which is bringing this talent-challenged crew back to the airwaves. Or the viewing public – which will, no doubt, flock to this mess like it was outtakes from “America’s Next Top Model.”
Really? The Osbournes? Their reality show on MTV was bad enough – a pathetic look at the life of a has-been rocker (whose talent was barely measurable to start with) and the family that lives off of him like leeches. Now they’re hosting a variety show built on being tastelessly in-your-face. Apparently, in this century, that’s a highly marketable skillset. Let’s work our way up the line:
The kids, Pudgy and Pudgy II, have no discernible talent – other than the ability to grow up in California and still speak with an affected British accent. Unlovely, unexceptional – but hey, they’re the children of celebrities, a condition that apparently is passed from generation to generation Iike a genetic disease.
Then there’s Sharon Osbourne, who went from being Ozzy’s manager’s daughter to Ozzy’s manager to Ozzy’s wife. Again, talent? Not immediately obvious, beyond brassiness, the ability to put up with Ozzy and to exploit her family’s shamelessness.
Finally, there’s Ozzy, a shuffling, stuttering zombie still best known for that bat-biting stunt. A rock’n’roll casualty, Ozzy is a star in the world of heavy metal, otherwise known as the special-education class of the rock world. His greatest accomplishment: that he’s still walking upright.
“Osbournes: Reloaded” proves that there’s no percentage in patting idiots on the head – because they don’t know they’re idiots and never will. Apparently, however, Fox thinks the rest of us are.