So, it’s Thursday night and I’m flicking through the modicum of channels I have left on my TV. My friendly neighbourhood pirate cable provider, the one with three teeth I’ve mentioned before, has gone AWOL and he seems to have taken most of my watchable channels with him.
So, it’s slim pickings when it comes to TV these days I’m afraid. On the one hand, I could watch the Sudanese satellite channel, which seems to mainly involve military parades and dubbed cartoons from the 1800s. I could watch the Food Network, but the host of Iron Chef America gives me nightmares. Then there’s Russia 1, which, from what I can gather, seems to be built around some form of Wheel of Fortune-type show hosted by a plump mustachioed alcoholic who receives gifts such as cabbages, and places them on said wheel.
Thankfully, I still have MTV. Sadly, it would seem that they decided to stop playing music at some point in the 90s and now try to fry what few brain cells are left in the world’s youth by diffusing such dog’s vomit as The Hills and Jersey Shore. The latter, by the way, being a great illustration that bad taste is in no way restricted to Lebanese shopping malls and is alive and well all the way across the Atlantic.
The other day, as I was zapping through what’s left of my channels, I came across one of the oddest most compelling inventions in the history of television, E! Entertainment. A typical day on this entity seems to be made up mostly of an endless stream of reruns of Top 100 lists, True Hollywood Stories and godawful semi-reality shows, topped with about 15 minutes of highly topical celeb gossip. And it’s absolutely captivating. E! is the black hole of television channels, in that it sucks in anyone who dares come within range, and never spits them out again. Once you’ve zapped onto E!, there’s no pulling you away.
I sat there, slack-jawed, knowing full well I should be watching a high-minded documentary about water shortages in Benin on BBC World, yet I remained transfixed. “I’ll change the channel after they reveal who number 87 on the Top 100 Sexiest Hollywood Bodies is”, I said to myself reassuringly. Cue 15 minutes of ads for shows I felt I’d seen a million times, 90% of which include Hugh Heffner shuffling around his mansion looking for a misplaced pneumatic blonde.
As the hemorrhaging grey matter trickled down my forehead, I prayed for a miracle. Maybe someone would come and grab the remote and put on the Discovery Channel. It’s probably Shark Week again. Maybe the remote would fall on the floor and smash into a thousand pieces, but just before doing so it would point me towards Mezzo, where I could enjoy a nice jazz concert for a few hours.
Then, like a sign from the heavens, the Lebanese government intervened. That’s right, the government itself swept in and took charge of my televisual viewing habits. In a moment of sheer euphoric delight and relief, the power went out in my flat. Darkness descended upon a room previously awash in the flickering glory of Jessica Biel’s thighs and Brad Pitt’s abs. A darkness that made me reach for a candle and a book, and helped me block out a world where Ryan Seacrest gets to host shows.
A divine intervention if ever there was one.