« May 2007 »

Memo to ABC: D-15. U-8. M-72. B-42.

I know I've been all cynical and angry and political the last couple of days, but I just can't be mad on Fridays anymore. Oh, sure, back in the day, Fridays used to be dreaded by the general population. It brings the end of glorious capitalist productivity, the fear of awful chicken wings, and thoughts of sketch comedy from the 80's. But all that is gone now, the slate wiped clean.

Because Friday is now National Bingo Night.

Yes, Bingo! The sport of kings! Long have we been regaled with bingotastic exploits in that one song about that dog! And why not? Bingo is a quintessentially American pastime. Forget baseball, with its chaw, shortstops, and steroid scandals. How many of you are actually capable of playing baseball? I thought so. But all it takes to play bingo is the ability to recognize five different letters, numbers of two digits or fewer, and knowledge of what constitutes a straight line. Which means that bingo is accessible to at least 72% of all Americans in as many as 48 states.

It's less athletic than slot machines, more egalitarian than sudoku. It's like Scrabble for illiterates. Unfortunately, bingo had gotten a bit of a bad rap over the years. It's been portrayed as an activity for shut-in elderly people with absolutely nothing better to do. But ABC has changed all that, turning bingo into a game that can also be enjoyed by shut-in YOUNG people with nothing better to do.

I'll admit, I didn't watch the premiere of National Bingo Night on ABC last week. Partly because any new show needs a few episodes to shake out the kinks and develop the plot, but mostly because years of abuse has left my heart unable to contain the sheer excitement caused by the convergence of bingo and ABC's attempts to jazz up bingo. There are lights and sounds and, yes, giant fucking balls everywhere.

But after visiting ABC's website and having a bald British host tell me that Bingo is "one of the simplest and most fun games ever invented", I'm ready to jump on board the bingwagon. The bandbingon. Whatever. I cannot wait to employ my masterful bingo strategy and play along at home. Thank goodness the bald British host also informs me that "At National Bingo Night, we play five-across bingo". My genius strategy doesn't work with two-across or Mandelbrot Bingo.

I enjoy sarcasm as much as the next guy, but seriously, what the fuck? For the past 20 years, we've been told that stuff like saying "son of a bitch" in a show, or Beavis and Butthead, or Dennis Franz's hairy ass, or South Park, or the worst excesses of reality TV are going to bring about the end of culture and entertainment as we know it. They were harbingers of a crude apocalypse where anything was permissible - live sex shows, organ harvesting, or the hunting of political prisoners by crazy enforcers in hockey outfits.

But it's not an orgy of blood, violence, and sex these shows were driving us to. That honor belongs to National Fucking Bingo Night. Any idiot can put up pictures of two people fucking and get people to watch. For reference, see the entire history of human art. But it takes a special kind of deranged depravity to think you can get away with airing BINGO on a Friday night and getting people to tune in and play along. Either that, or it's all part of a conspiracy to put the Onion out of business by making the funniest headlines real ones.