I’ve been in San Francisco for eight days now, and despite all the offers to stay at my mother’s apartment, I’ve been happily ensconsed in my modest little hotel. Reading in hotel rooms has never been my strong suit, and besides, I consider it part of my homework to check out the local zeitgeist.
Extensive research now allows me to report that American TV makes me want to kill myself. There are lousy news channels (Fox is hideous, but by no means the worst), lousy sitcoms, and repellant self-help infomercials. OK, there was a Mad Men marathon on last night, which my mother watched. But of eighty channels, about 72 feature infomercials for miracle weight loss products that allow you to EAT YOUR BODY WEIGHT IN CRAP AND STILL LOSE WEIGHT!!! Each one is “revolutionary” and “amazing” and backed by cheesy testimonials from paid actors. Get Thin Without Lifting A Finger To Change Your Lousy Lifestyle is the message, and it’s rivalled only by the next channel up, which tells you that Positive Erectile Function until the moment you drop dead at 112 is your right as an American. Whittle Sixteen Inches Off Your Waist While Stuffing Your Face With Cheap Fried Chicken and Watching TV!!! is big, as is Look Younger With Botox!! Look Younger With Extensive Plastic Surgery! or Knock Ten Years Off Your Life With Miracle Wonder Hungarian Cow Urine Cream! And if you don’t believe there’s a market for this junk, have a look at the stars with their phoney boobs or the news readers, with their frozen foreheads and peculiarly stretched faces.
Children aren’t exempt either. Boost Your Dumb Kid’s IQ By 36 Points in Only Four Seconds A Day With Revolutionary New Baby Geniusize! This exciting new programme guarantees an increase of 32 IQ points, and parades some poor baby actor reading Proust to prove it.
The message is ‘I deserve a perfect life for only $19.99, because I’m worth it.’
I’ve been away from ‘home’ for 21 years now, and I don’t recognize this America.
I hate it.