HGTV's reactionary tilt
Tuesday, December 9 2003
I took Gretchen to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary so she could pick up her car, which had been stranded there by wintery weather for the past day or so. While there, I met with Kathy and picked up a bunch of new materials for the CAS website, which I maintain. Sally and Eleanor were with me. There is a zero tolerance policy for dogs at the sanctuary since somebody's dog killed a blind turkey some months back, but Kathy's home (a double-wide trailer) is a different matter. While there, Eleanor and Sally were delighted to discover that Kathy's dog Murphy has a couple rawhide bones. True adherence to the principle of animal rights is difficult even for the most ardent of vegetarians in our society, particularly when they keep carnivores as pets. Sometimes vegetarianism is manifested entirely symbolically, as when Gretchen gets heart-shaped tags for our dogs instead of those having the forms of bones. Whenever this topic comes up (and I'm the only one who seems interested) I get a kick out of pointing out that hearts are also animal parts.
My next stop was Sears to pick up my truck wheel, which was supposedly getting a new tire put on it. The tire wouldn't be an exact match, but it would be close enough. I don't know why I continue bothering with Sears given their appalling customer service. My tire was supposed to have been finished on Sunday and someone was supposed to call me, but of course nobody bothered. I could have called them to find out what the deal was, but nobody in the Sears automotive department answers the phone.
So there I was in line, waiting, waiting. A woman in front of me had been at the mall all day waiting for her car, which was supposed to have been finished "in an hour." Now it was well into the afternoon and she'd just found out that nothing had been done to her vehicle. Suddenly I was seeing double, because she was beside herself with outrage. I could sympathize; I'd been there. I chuckled quietly, wondering what sort of ordeal I myself was about to face. Standing behind me in line was a tall young woman with a handsome manly face. She grinned shyly at me in the way strangers do and quietly observed, "She's almost postal!"
Sears had (of course) managed to screw up my tire order, but not in a way that mattered to me. Without bothering to consult with me, they'd put on a tire of a different brand. Since it was $20 cheaper and wouldn't have matched the brand of my other tires in any case, I didn't care. But someone else with a newer truck who cared about its appearance would have flipped out. I'm curious what the historical maximum of simultaneously screaming customers at the Hudson Valley Mall Sears has been.
This evening I sat back and watched home improvement teevee while simultaneously doing web research on my Audrey (a small, discontinued internet appliance built by 3Com - I haven't used it since Brooklyn). I had to run a fifty foot ethernet cable into the teevee room in order to pull this off. I have to say, it's a lot more comfortable sitting on a comfy chase lounge while surfing the web than it is to sit in a swivel chair, particularly when cats are vying for your lap. My research was to settle the question, "Is it okay to install backerboard and tile over vinyl?" Gretchen's brother (who is the family tile expert) had said it wasn't a problem. But the posts in the home repair fora ran decidedly against it. My next big home improvement project, you see, is to tile the kitchen floor, and I want to do it right. The other day I bought a wet saw and everything.
It's interesting how different fields of interest are dominated by different politics (something I've been more aware of since reading most of Al Franken's brilliant Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them). For example, sports coverage is usually sort of reactionary, perhaps because it is geared toward bone-headed men. Conversely, most discussions I read about music seem to come from the liberal perspective. Music is a subject requiring an interest in sensitivity and nuance, both talents that atrophy in people with profoundly fascist leanings.
Watching a home repair channel like Home and Gardens TV, one is likely to sense a prevailing right-wing perspective, mostly because homeowners tend to be wealthier, whiter, and thus more conservative than average Americans. This bias isn't often noticeable, and is usually only apparent when certain people host the shows or allow us to look around in their homes. For example, today I couldn't help but become aware of the fact that HGTV will be touring the White House in one of its Christmas specials. The show will feature the president's wife, Laura Bush, saying various things using that maddeningly incurious Texas drawl of hers. I find the relentless ads promoting the show alienating; they make me feel exposed and singled-out for watching a channel ill-suited to my politics. Speaking of Laura Bush, can anyone remember any other first lady keeping such a low profile? I know this is Karl Rove's doing; it's clearly an effort to contrast Laura's submissive kitchenly barefootedness with the shrill bra-burning, mustache-growing excesses of Hillary Clinton.
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