Help, I want the last 30 seconds of my life back

Augustine Marinelli

A year ago, my best friend smugly declared to me that he “never watches TV anymore.” Accompanying this was the implication that only knuckle-draggers like myself would stoop so low.

I chalked that one up to self-conscious asceticism and figured that it would pass. Well, one year later, I think my best friend is on to something, and all it took was the beginning and end of primary season to convince me. For the politically uninitiated (and thus happy), primary season is the time of year when that stinking cesspool of party-hacks we call candidates duke it out for the permission to call their opponents from the other party idiots from Labor Day until the second Tuesday in November. Television is the preferred means with which to do this, much to the chagrin of millions of registered voters and apathetic citizens alike.

It occurred to me that my friend was right after I returned to Pennsylvania. It was here that I witnessed a Rick Santorum commercial. This gem of advertising featured Santorum (accompanied by his trademark car salesman grin) wading through a crowd of dancing senior citizens while touting his accomplishments in giving the elderly more taxpayer-subsidized drugs (not that I disagree with that sort of thing).

I winced in pain when a crabby old woman told Santorum to “move it or lose it.” Watching him laugh that one off was like chewing broken safety glass. After seeing the next two in the “Friendly Neighborhood Rick” series, I realized that I was never going to recover the minute and a half that I wasted because my basic cable provider made me watch this. As bad as this was, it wasn’t the worst I’ve seen in my long career as a member of the captive audience.

For that, I will have to bring us to the beginning of the primary season and to a far-off state called Georgia. It was there that I witnessed political theater at its most absurd; this made Santorum’s ads look like award winners. The screen went dark and a picture of Osama bin Laden flashed upon the screen. A deep, baritone voice informed me that bin Laden was planning to attack our crop supplies with poison.

A quick jump-cut took me to a Georgia farm and informed me that the Peach State does indeed produce poison-able crops (oh no!). Another stupid jump-cut threw my confused self in front of a man in shirtsleeves and tie leaning on a tractor with his daughter in the driver’s seat (a grave OSHA violation if you ask me).

The low-rent Barry White baritone informed me that this particular candidate for agriculture commissioner was the only Republican capable of stopping bin Laden and his crew from making peach cobbler an instrument of death. I laughed so hard that I cried. Then, I thought about this deeply, and I cried some more when I realized that these guys really think the public is malleable enough to respond to such blatant scare tactics.

Allow me to bring us back to the present. After Santorum’s ads made me want to give up TV, I thought back to Rambo, the wanna-be agriculture commissioner. And it hit me again: the politicians are right. We are that stupid. They wouldn’t keep paying top dollar to churn out this nonsense if enough people weren’t swallowing it whole and voting for the guy with the stupid ads.

So, I’m going to rip off a classic movie called “Network” and ask all four of you who are reading this (and are not related to me by blood) to open your window and shout with me, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

I will diverge from this clichéd homage and ask you all to take your TV set and throw at the nearest political ad specialist you see strolling by your window.

Quick, before the presidential election season starts!