The Television Pyramid

There’s just something about Regis Philbin, his demeanor, the look in his eye, the way he hunches over his high risen stool and leans into camera, peering relentlessly into the eyes of millions of American housewives and grandmothers. In truth, I can’t help but dislike him as Kelly Rippa chirps solemnly around set, over gesticulating her way into the stuff of a morning show legend. In the chair where Kathy Lee Gifford would ultimately rise and fall, how quickly we forget success when failure interferes with commercial advertising.

This is what daytime television is made of, predetermined banter spiked with personal ambiguity hidden behind the confides of little blue index cards. These types of hosts thrive mostly on conformity and the pleasing of the masses. Mostly they steer away from subversion preferring never to rock the boat. They are the “Murdoch worshipers”, living to please the peacock, look into the CBS eye and learn their ABC’s while minding their P‘s and Q‘s. These are “the Grains” of America‘s food pyramid. You should eat six ounces a day with at least half of them whole. Grains are the basis of a healthy diet. This may come as a surprise to you after years of being told to stay away from foods such as breads, rice, and cereal.

Though every host is in a sense looking to keep his or her position and maintain a relationship with a network it seems that there are a few using their timeslots as a platform to voice opinions, provide insight and increase social change. Oprah Winfrey for example changed the face of television by using her power to form a movement. Making a sincere effort to challenge the way Americans think and feel about the state of the world. Her book club increased literacy in America, her charities have save millions of lives, and her Angel Network has provided educational opportunities that were otherwise impossible for young students simply by collecting a country’s spare change.

Rosie O’Donnell has also made her mark on television history by not only appearing in her first successful long running talk show but by becoming the moderator of ABC’s “The View”. O’Donnell was unafraid to voice opinions that are for all intent purposes condemned by the higher-ups, recently stating that there are four corporations that control the media of the world and “this is one of them” (meaning ABC), encouraging viewers to find their own stance and reject political propaganda. Her appearances on The View have caused quite a bit of controversy, even causing right wing conservative and resident air head Elizabeth Hasselbeck to break down into tears while rocking back and forth on the lap of Barbara Walters like a spoiled child. This Murdoch worshiper is a favorite of Fox news and a public advocate of not only the war in Iraq, but the horrific torture techniques used by American soldiers in Abu Ghraib. Her wispy blonde locks toss from side to side as her leopard stilettos tap against the fake living room set, clenching her teeth as O’Donnell spouts her views on 9/11 conspiracy theories and the evils of George Bush. Seemingly set up, she appears to be placed there to tame the “fringe liberals” she so avidly despises and often labels unpatriotic. The final blow out was a You Tube favorite, spreading like wildfire through blogosphere. Ultimately, O’Donnell left the high rated show unable to stomach Hasselbeck’s robotic stare and passionate ignorance. O’Donnell and Winfrey would be considered “The Vegetables” in the television pyramid, whose required intake for a healthy diet has tripled over the past three years. Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet. But not all vegetables are created equal. They are important to vary and consume on a regular basis.

The FCC and Broadcasting corporations have infringed on a host’s civil rights in the case of “The Howard Stern Show”. The Bush administration in a return to conservative values had increased censorship on airwaves penalizing Stern for using offensive language by fining him millions for the very same phrases and form of comedy he had been using for twenty years. Pushing the envelope to another extreme the Stern Show actively opposed the Bush campaign influencing listeners to vote for the left, suddenly incurring service interruptions. This kind of right wing upper hand forced him into Satellite radio, a paid subscription service. Bill Maher of ABC’s “Politically Incorrect” could probably tell you that he saw it coming. After making a controversial comment in reference to the 9/11 terror attacks he was forced into HBO oblivion, a popular channel but minuscule in comparison to network television, leaving America wondering if our civil rights now come at a per month cost. Hosts like Bill Maher and Howard Stern fall into the fruit category, necessary for a healthy diet their requirements have also trippled in recent years. Fruit in your diet is necessary to Completely Detoxify Your Body (or mind in this case) this detoxification leads to the removal of all the toxins, wastes and poisonous compounds .

Bill O’Reilly, the love child of Fox News and what one can only imagine to be a robot created by Dick Cheney in a fit of republican rage, delivers his own personal opinions to the dismay of liberal Hollywood. He relentlessly attacks those of opposing points of viewpoints with answers for every argument that never seem to quite make any sense. For some reason O’Reilly has gone uninterrupted, free to voice his opinions which conveniently seem to coincide with our current administrations. Hosts like O’Rielly would be considered the meat and bean portion of our diet, necessary for protein. To achieve healthy cholesterol levels, you don’t have to avoid red (or white) meat entirely. However, you do have to find healthier alternatives. Eating too much of this food group can be dangerous to ones health, which is why some vegetarians or left wingers in this case find the best way to maintain health is to become a vegetarian.

These members of the pyramid are in some sense at war with each other. In a world where Ann Coulter is a name I know well enough to use in this article from morning show press, I wonder if what I have the chance to absorb from talk show hosts is just a controlled preconceived ideology provided by a larger power. One can only hope that Freedom of speech was not something lost while channel surfing and that hosts are able to use a steady network platform to rock the boat, increase political awareness, and encourage social change. In the meantime we always have Jerry Springer who incidentally is perfectly acceptable in the eyes of both right and left wing audiences, not to mention the independents or Rush Limbaugh. Guilty pleasures like Springer can only be classified as Oil, not an official food group but necessary in small portions.

Theresa Bennett

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