Sunday, March 27, 2011

home improvement.

One of the real problems of being a media scholar is that you quickly run out of any entertainment options which might in any way be described as "brainless." I try out tons of programs in the pursuit for something that doesn't really make me think, but sooner or later, I'm breaking down everything. I quit watching food television because I couldn't turn off the gender analysis. I've tried NCIS, but the stereotyping drives me insane. The list goes on.

My latest effort in my pursuit of "not thinking for at least a moment" is home improvement television. Now, I've watched tons of shows in my years. For a while, I could've been described as a Bob Villa junkie. I've seen every single This Old House and Hometimes, many of them multiple times. I enjoy it, but mentally, I already have paper after paper planned. Some of them would be quite good ones, if only I had time to write them...damn job that doesn't reward scholarship.

I try to go more brainless by delving into HGTV, but that doesn't help. Many of the shows feature people looking for new houses...these always drive my thoughts into the area of class warfare, as I have very little sympathy for anyone depressed over the lack of housing options under $650,000. I watch the design shows, and they only make me want to invent a new game: "Gay or Canadian"...because all the hosts seem to be...well, you get the picture.

Lately, I've been watching the Mike Holmes programs Holmes on Homes and Holmes Inspection. They're particularly interesting, because they reverse the standard home improvement narrative. These shows are certainly not telling you "yes, you can do it yourself." No, they make absolutely no attempt at claiming viewer empowerment. You watch this show, and you have no thoughts about your repair competency. Moreover, they don't even hint that professionals in the field might be competent...quite the opposite, in fact. I watch Mike Holmes, and I feel utterly depressed at the possibility of there being anything close to an honest, skilled professional anywhere. Except Mike Holmes himself, of course...he is, according to the show, the construction industry Jesus, albeit with a Canadian accent.

Today's episode was particularly brutal. The previous owners of the hell-house in question had apparently, before selling to the now shell-shocked couple, found massive termite and rot damage, all caused by the fact that the foundation was made of dirt...simple, unpacked dirt. Their solution? Just insulate and drywall over everything. The crew's fix wasn't so much a gut job as a "bomb and start over job." It was truly horrifying.

The critical side of my brain is still trying to process a home improvement show which argues most professionals are incompetent, some of them at levels bordering on criminal. Are they telling us that experts everywhere inherently suck? Is a home improvement channel really trying to dissuade me from ever becoming a home owner?

I would worry about this all that much more if I wasn't doomed to enough poverty to never escape being a renter...and might even make the swarm of bees seem a reasonable price.

Thank goodness for debt.

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