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Please Stop Screaming At Me

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Please Stop Screaming At Me

Sir, I realize that you were enraged by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as it was broadcast into your home. And I fully understand and share your hatred of that ever-present playgirl heiress who seems to have no greater purpose than to acquire things and expose her genitalia. However, I must remind you that I neither create nor condone the images that I project.

Sir, no one is arguing with you. Terrell Owens should have caught that pass, Room Raiders insults your intelligence, and the central players on Growing Up Gotti are abominations, to be sure. I do not dispute any of your points, but rather the actions you have taken to express them.

The burrito you launched at me while watching About A Boy last night, for example, was unwarranted. It is not my fault you rented that awful film. If anything, you should have taken out your dissatisfaction on the DVD player. He is more to blame than me.

And have you considered spreading around some of your ire? Perhaps you ought to bellow at that bastard satellite dish of yours. It is he who gathers all this programming. Don't take it out on the messenger, as it were.

In fact, why yell at all? It does you no favor, sir.

One might be better served writing a letter to one's representatives in Congress, or banding together with one's fellow television watchers to call attention to the flawed programming through some sort of peaceful demonstration. One might even send an e-mail to the head of the network in question. The means of self-expression are myriad in a free society, but please, sir, it does you no credit to snap my remote in half while watching a golf match. While not physically attached to me, it is a crucial appendage which is now tragically crippled for life.

Sir, I realize that you are yelling at the images, but having spent the better part of a decade as your television, I have, unfortunately, reached the limits of stoicism. I was created as a positive diversion, as a ready means to entertain, inform, and even educate. When your face twists into a purplish knot of fury, I feel something no factory-installed feature of mine can overcome. I feel that I have failed you, sir.

The average American watches between four and six hours of me per day. I've clocked your own personal average at nearly nine. One wonders if that's healthy, sir. Might I make a suggestion? On those days when there is "nothing on," as you put it, you might simply switch me off. That may seem incongruent coming from a television set, until one considers that I am truly a "captive" audience once you turn me on. You, at least, have the freedom to get up and walk away.

That reminds me, sir: When was the last time you've gone on vacation? I do believe I've been on every day for at least a year. Were it the old days, I should fear for my cathode-ray tube.

Just a bit of humor, sir.

If I may presume to put forth a theory, sir? No one who despised Jimmy Kimmel as you claim to would watch him every evening. I believe your anger is born not of annoyance, but of shame. It is my theory, sir, that you resent me for nourishing the part of yourself you least like. It is the part that ogles any magazine cover that features a bit of cleavage, the part that knows the state of Brad and Angelina today. Yes, sir, I'm afraid that while you are watching me, I am watching you, and for all of your outbursts, there are hours and hours you spend lulled, quiet as a baby.

But whatever your motive, you really should step away from me for a few hours and do something constructive. Go for a walk, work out, read a good book—may I recommend the works of Evan S. Connell? Not that I've read any of them, but I saw him on C-SPAN's Book TV and he seemed very intelligent. Or calm your nerves with a hot cup of herbal tea. Just don't fling it at me in anger.

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