Clips of America Jumping the Shark

| 3/18/2008 1:07:41 PM

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Last night, I basked in the TiVo’d glow of “Rock of Love 2,” watching the still-bandana’d lead singer of Poison navigate the treacherous territory of reality TV love. It was a hard night for Bret Michaels: The highly volatile yet smokin’ hot Kristy Joe shocked and awed with her decision to leave, opting not “to stay in this house and rock my world” (Bret’s version of the Bachelor’s rose offering includes this phrase and a backstage pass).

My husband and I look forward to this show every week, sometimes going as far as to privilege it over catching up on “The Wire.” We’re not alone in this guilty pleasure. Conan O’Brien admits his writers are oddly enamored with the program. And the folks at SNL must be too, given Tina Fey’s pitch-perfect impersonation late last month of Bret’s blubber-lipped suitor Daisy. Despite the safety in numbers, though, as the credits rolled last night, I dissolved into shamed giggles, simultaneously revolted and delighted by this pageant of excess and debauchery. “Why do we watch this?” I asked my husband. His response: “To witness America jumping the shark.”

That got me thinking about some other recent clips signaling the country’s tumbling denouement. There was Robert Greenwald’s recent video compilation tracking the spread of Fox News’s anti-Obama bile into other network coverage. Bare with it until the end—through the ominous, conservatives-are-going-to-drink-your-first-born’s-blood music—and you’ll hear a Fox Radio commentator likening the candidate to Hitler:

And then there was President Bush’s tap-dance routine, performed for the press before his markedly less peppy endorsement of John McCain. (This time, you’ll have to wait through a segment featuring a sex act between the state of Florida and Michigan.)

All of which could send a person into a depressive TV coma. That is, if it weren’t for Tracy Morgan, whose rejoinder to “30 Rock” costar Tina Fey’s “Bitch Is the New Black” monologue on Weekend Update made me squeal once again with delight—this time free of shame—and hold out hope that the country still has a few good seasons left.


Hannah Lobel

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