I pride myself in being fairly well-versed in modern culture. As a member of the media, I tend to read perhaps a bit more than the average and even someone dim-witted as myself has got to pick up some current information through that process.
Until this week I assumed my television watching habits were also fairly mainstream. I'm guilty of spending far too much time in front of that magical screen. And with the advent of dozens upon dozens of channels from which to choose, I assumed that my viewing habits were fairly common. Yet now I recognize how out-of-touch I truly am.
The top 20 rated prime-time television shows were released this week and I find myself wondering just when and where I took a different fork in the road. I can say without hesitations that I have viewed exactly one of the top 20 rated programs. Just one!
What am I missing from not ever having watched CSI? Or House? Or Law & Order? Or Alias? Or Rob and Amber Get Married? I am somewhat embarrassed to admit I have not watched one of these programs in my life. Not once. And yet the ratings show that literally millions of Americans tune in these programs weekly. Am I really that out-of-touch?
I tend to watch movies, sports and news. Throw in an occasional sitcom and that sums up my time in front of the tube. The only program rated in the top 20 that I watch is Two and a Half Men. Guess I'm a sucker for Charlie Sheen.
I hear the folk in our office talk about Survivor and American Idol and 24. I listen intently without a clue concerning the discussions. Those three shows, too, are not on my viewing agenda.
Part of the problem of course is the large number of programs available. When television viewing was limited to three channels, everyone watched the same programs. But today there are more channels than you can count and there's something for virtually every taste imaginable. But the numbers don't lie. The fact is that most people watch programs different than those I watch. So statistically, I'm out of the loop.
Not too long ago I wrote about the top 10 songs of the day. I knew not one of them. And now I recognize how remote I am from mainstream television viewing.
I was watching the History Channel the other night and found myself absorbed by some obscure program on ancient Egypt. I thought it fascinating. But when I asked casually the following day if anyone had seen the program, I received blank stares. And then the discussion turned to the performance of Bo on the American Idol. Who the hell is Bo?
My father would rather watch a repeat of M*A*S*H than virtually any other offering on television. I used to laugh at his viewing taste. But today I realize I have become my father. I find no fascination in the new programs on television. I realize I am fighting a losing battle. But I realize, too, that this is just the first of many battles I will lose in the years ahead.
Today my pride in my cultural knowledge is diminished. I still know P. Diddy when I see him. But I'll be darned if I know what he does for a living!