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TeeVee Mailbag XX: Putting the "Mo" In Moron

The thirteen or so regular readers of this Web site -- as well as those of you who mosey on over here only after you've reread The Onion six or seven times -- might get the idea we're pretty well set here at TeeVee. Lauded by Entertainment Weekly. Deluged with free preview tapes of lavish Hollywood productions. Plied with celery from the craft services table by our high-powered industry friends. Deluged with junk e-mail from rinky-dink production companies looking for a free plug.

Yes, it must seem that we Vidiots are living what exotic chanteuse Shelia E. once described in song as The Glamorous Life. A never-ending cavalcade of riches and whimsy, interrupted by the occasional dreary chore of tending to our silly little Web site before jetting off to the next fabulous Hollywood premiere.

Well, we hate to burst your bubble, but we're not exactly farting through silk here at TeeVee... not until that special delivery from Victoria's Secret hits our doorsteps, at any rate.

Sure, we enjoy some of the perks you imagine -- the fawning reviews in Time-Warner publications, the deluge of junk e-mail from shameless self-promoters and touts -- but all is not champagne cocktails in TeeVee land. There's one group of folks here who do much of the grunt work, but receive none of the glory. And when we're not too busy gossiping with our celebrity friends or perusing Daily Variety while sipping fruit smoothies, it just about breaks our heart to see them skulk down the hallways, their deadened eyes fixed firmly on the floor.

We speak, of course, about the good men and women who staff the ol' TeeVee Mailbag.

They're good, fresh-faced kids, our Mailbag staff. Just out of college, willing to work for peanuts, ready to do just about any thankless job just for the opportunity to get their start in this crazy Web entertainment business, even if it means sorting through your cards and letters. They come to us looking for a chance to make people laugh, and maybe -- just maybe -- make them think a little bit too. And the prospect of rubbing shoulders with TV stars and eating their celery... well, that's just icing on the cake.

That lasts for about a week. Then, when the euphoria wears off and the Fear begins to creep in, us Vidiots start having to deal with a different breed of cat. These fresh-faced kids who used to come in bright and early every morning now sit at their cubicles sobbing. Their once-bright cheeks have turned the color of chalk. On some days, they just sit around, staring off into space, like World War I doughboys waiting for the whistle to sound the next charge out of the trench. Until, one day, they just stop coming in.

At first, we thought it was the abuse. Our Mailbag staffers spend hours each day reading the e-mail you send us. And, for reasons we can't fathom, a lot of you decide to write us when you're feeling especially cranky.

Take reader Kaci Burton -- apparently quite the fan of The Sentinel and fixing for a fight with our own Philip Michaels, who has no use for the Silly Sci-Fi For the Kids. Kaci rages:

I have given up with pundits that criticize a show without ever watching it. The Sentinel had a great storyline, which you have probably never realized. Go soak your head and try for a different job, pundit!

Which is just cruel, considering that Michaels has to soak his head in order to reduce the swelling from his ongoing bout with chronic gigantism. But that doesn't concern you, does it, Kaci Burton? Just so long as we make nice with your precious little Sentinel, everything's cool between us. But the minute poor Michaels looks askance at the show, you start making with the taunts about his oversized head.

Oh, you thoughtless hussy.

While on the subject of The Sentinel fans and their various stages of dementia, it seems reader Gabby266 was none too pleased with our playful little gibes in "Save Everything." It's the incisive, biting commentary of readers like Gabby266 that makes our Mailbag staffers feel so chastened and ashamed.

You guys really are assholes, you know that?

What? How dare you! Why, we've never been more insul... wait a minute. We can be a little impolite at times. As a matter of fact, some of the things we say are pretty hurtful. And do you know what they call people who go around saying hurtful things? Assholes is what.

My God. She's right!

I'm sure you do.

Well, yeah. Now.

And just for the record we're not agoraphobiacs. Far from it. We're the most social fandom that I know of, and I know a lot of fandoms.

Strangely, we have no problem believing that.

Online, group trips to Vancouver, L.A. and G-d only knows how many other places, fan parties.

And the punchbowls full of Kool Aid throughout the compound. Don't forget all that magical Kool Aid!

I could go on, but I'm not going to put anymore effort into this little whatever e-mail because you're not worth it. I have better E-mail to be writing.

And yet, you still wrote to us. How terribly thoughtful.

And, yes, I know that you don't care, cynical putzes.

Cynical putzes? Now, you're just trying to make us cry.

Just for kicks -- and because we are cynical putzes after all -- we signed on to AOL and looked up the member profile for Gabby266. What we found made our hair curl.

Screen Name: Gabby266
Member Name: Marquise Gabrielle de Lioncourt
Location: New Orleans, Louisianna, USA
Birthdate: January 10 ,1731

Which, as any student of popular culture knows, is an oblique reference to Anne Rice and her dreary little vampire books. Now, put yourself in the shoes of our poor, TeeVee Mailbag interns. They come into the office each morning, pour themselves a cup of coffee, maybe make some time with the cute girl from accounting, and then they begin the arduous task of sorting through e-mail only to find... what? Abusive letters from some broad laboring under the delusion that she's a centuries-old vampire? Some D&D crackpot taking time out of her busy role-playing schedule to act all superior to us?

Not exactly life-affirming, is it?

Nor is this letter from John Hampton, who stumbled across TeeVee round about April 1, forgot to check his calendar and fell hard for our carefully orchestrated fraud like a sack of doorknobs.

I was at your web page: http://www.sony-television.com/archive/990401/sonytv.html and was very surprised to see the HRPufnstuffitupyourass crap. What exactly are you trying to promote here????? This has to be a sick April Fool's joke (I hope). MUST you desecrate EVERYTHING??????? Haven't the kids of the world already had their minds subjected to so much of this hogwash that is the cause of the shape of the world today? Maybe the next kid taking pot shots at his schoolmates will yell out - "Puffnstuff THIS up your ass Kiddies".... would you be happy then???? Yeah - as long as your show got a plug, I guess....

Sony is definitely on my boycott list - I'll TAPE the CD's I want from now on... on TDK's too!.... bastards....

John actually poses a provocative line of inquiry -- and one deserving of our answers. To wit:

MUST you desecrate EVERYTHING???????

Yeah. Pretty much. Sorry about all that.

Maybe the next kid taking pot shots at his schoolmates will yell out - "Puffnstuff THIS up your ass Kiddies".... would you be happy then????

Well, geez... who wouldn't be happy if that happened?

Haven't the kids of the world already had their minds subjected to so much of this hogwash that is the cause of the shape of the world today?

Uh... well. Um. Huh.

OK, some of Johnny's questions were provocative.

Still, we couldn't let a master of the Socratic method like John Hampton walk around vowing revenge against the corporation that done him wrong, especially when it's a humble little mom-and-pop start-up like Sony. So we wrote John-John to tell him that it was us -- the madcap boys and girls of TeeVee -- and not the sinister Norio Ohga that turned a beloved Sid and Marty Krofft production into a vicious schoolyard taunt. So John could rescind his Sony boycott and buy all the Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys CDs that his heart desired.

You would think John Hampton would be grateful. You would be wrong.

get something productive to do on the web

was about the only thing he said that we can repeat in polite society. And that's a shame because we really thought we could be pals with a guy like him.

And that's when it hit us. Sure, our readers are abusive and surly and downright persnickety. And that can wear on a man's soul. But what really seems to be bumming out our poor, put-upon Mailbag readers is something else entirely.

You people are remarkably dim.

Oh, there are a handful out there that send us incisive comments, valuable feedback, points of view we might otherwise not have considered. But that's four, five readers tops. The rest? Dopier than the seventh dwarf.

Harsh? Then consider this letter from Philip Eittreim, who stumbled upon our obviously fraudulent SONY-TV Web site, saw the clearly bogus promo for Dukes of Hazzard 2000 and came to the conclusion that so many Web surfers arrive at these days: If it's on the Internet, it must be true!

The Dukes of Hazzard is one of the best TV shows that ever was, I hope that The Dukes of Hazzard 2000 carries on the legacy. I would like to hear the same theme song as the old one, and isn't Denver Pyle dead?

Only dead in body, Philip. In our hearts, though, he lives on.

I mean, really, does a letter like that do anything to stoke your faith in the basic common sense of mankind? Or to put it another way: what would you do if you had to go in for a major operation, one where they have to cut you open and replace a whole bunch of organs and stuff, and just as the anesthesia is kicking in, you hear the surgeon say, "Know what? Dukes of Hazzard is coming back. I saw it on the Web!"?

Time to start believing in the healing power of prayer, is what.

It's time to face some basic facts: Try as we might to create a Web site that took a funny and irreverent look at television, we have only succeeded in catering to a demographic composed almost entirely of half-wits. Maybe a bunch of you out there are really quite savvy and on the ball and just wonderful conversants. But you didn't bother writing, now, did you? So we have to cater to the audience we know is out there.

And that audience is, frankly, idiots.

It's somewhat fitting in a way. At the same time network TV is dumbing down with wrestling specials and "World's Deadliest" montages to cater to its demographic, TeeVee will have to dumb down, too. From now on, no more of those ponderous articles with big words and adverbs and such. We'll give you the kind of entertainment that readers like Gabby266 and John Hampton are demanding. So be sure and surf by next week for our three-part feature "UPN: Why Is It So Neat-o?" followed by our heartfelt magnum opus "Hyperion Bay Rulz!"

Because, judging by your e-mail, you asked for it.

Additional contributions to this article by: Philip Michaels.


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