Trashy TV shows, books, magazines an escape from reality [Commentary]

One of my favorite movies is "Finding Forrester," starring Sean Connery.

It's about an author, William Forrester, played by Connery, who, as a young man, penned "Avalon Landing," and then basically went into seclusion. It takes a brilliant high school student, Jamal Wallace (played by Rob Brown), who seeks out Forrester to help him with his writing.

The movie is about the relationship that develops between the two. It's a wonderful story.

The movie contains one of my favorite exchanges:

Wallace: You should be reading The Times or something.

Forrester: I read The Times for dinner...but this is my dessert. (He says that holding up one of the gossip magazines like the National Enquirer.)

I'm reminded of this dialogue, and subsequently the movie, whenever I pick up one of those magazines Forrester is referring to in the movie.

I don't keep up with the gossip in the entertainment world. I don't watch the nightly magazine shows that discuss who wore who to what awards show, or who's dating whom in the show business world.


I was listening to the radio the other day when one of the DJs asked "Why do people watch that stuff?"

I think he was talking about Jerry Springer, and why people can sit for hours to wait and find out if "James" is so-and-so's "baby daddy," or if this girl is cheating on her boyfriend with another woman. Do I need to hear the DNA results about a child born perhaps from a one-night stand? No. Do I need to see two girls duke it out over another person, and have their fake hair fall off and parts of their bodies exposed in the process? Not at all.

And I don't need to know what's going on with Hollywood stars - who got arrested, who's buying what house, who's doing this or that. I really have other things to concern myself with.

If there's nothing else on TV and I'm flipping channels, I'll stop and watch the "Honeyboo boo" disaster.

But every so often, I'll watch the trash, or read it.

If I have a spare minute on a day off, which is rare, given that my kids are 2 and 4, I'll flip on Springer, or some show like it (I watch them so seldom that I don't even know the names of them) just to take a break. Then it's like a train wreck, I just can't tear myself away and I end up getting totally sucked in (I particularly like Jerry's "lessons learned" at the end of his shows).

And once in a while, at the grocery store, I'll pick up US Weekly or Us Magazines, just to catch up on the gossip. I find that as I've gotten older, I don't know half the names in the magazines anymore. What I need is one dedicated strictly to people who were popular in the '80s and '90s; they can still be popular or not.

Why do I watch, or read? Entertainment? To have something to laugh at because it's so outlandishly ridiculous? To be able to see how bad things could be?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. Sometimes I don't want to think about anything seriously. I don't want to think about the troubled world we live in - the real trouble of peace and murder, taxes and destitution. Or I want to escape the ordinary things in my life - like paying bills, trying to be a good parent and a good wife and making sure all the chores get done around the house.

I want to forget it all, if just for a few minutes. And, yes, it reminds me that if I think things are hard (which I don't, in the overall scheme of things), they could always be worse.

It makes me thankful for what I have - a great family, a good job and an overall good life. Most of the time, I don't need trashy TV shows or magazines to remind me of that.

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