It’s a World Full of Junk!

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So goes the not so famous line of Fred G. Sanford.

Today on television it seems every time I turn around there is another junk show. The premise of all these shows are people who search out and buy various forms of “junk” and sell it at a profit. But I wonder who is the audience for these shows? Americans generally are buy-consume-throw-away. There is generally a dislike of “junk.” By “junk” I mean anything that is old, needs repair, obsolete, etc. All to be tossed aside for the new.

We live under laws that work to prohibit anything the typical consumer would toss out. That have no understanding of why someone might want an old car for parts or to restore. Throw it out, get rid of it. That’s the American way and you’ll do it that way or else.

So where is the audience coming from? The pro-junk minority certainly couldn’t keep this many shows going. After all they have shows on hoarders which by using extreme cases are essentially making anyone who keeps stuff instead of consuming it appear to have a disorder. My wondering has me thinking… what if it isn’t the junk?

On every show it’s about making the find, the score, and selling it for a profit. Who are these people? Individuals. People making a living outside the corporate system most of us are stuck in. It’s not a great business but they make a living at it. They’ve found a hole in the system. Something that hasn’t been regulated into a corporate cartel.

Is it the people? I don’t know? But I think it must be these characters and the hunt they are on. The natural appeal of freedom.

What is TV but an escape for people? An escape from their daily grind in the machine. Here we get to see people that are still living outside the machine. For now. (The machine has been turning its attention to second hand stores and the like these days)

On top of the junk shows we have the cast of know-nothings about mining stumbling their way through finding gold in Alaska and countless others. The viewers have to be coming from somewhere… but we know the busy bodies are on the watch. Someone called the feds on the gold miners.

What’s going on? Where do the viewers come from? Why do they watch?

Is the minority of freedom loving people bigger? Is there an underlying instinct being tapped?

I don’t know. But suddenly there’s a lot of TV for lovers of junk and freedom. Then again maybe it’s something insidious or materialistic that I am blind to.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. “On every show it’s about making the find, the score, and selling it for a profit. Who are these people? Individuals. People making a living outside the corporate system most of us are stuck in. It’s not a great business but they make a living at it. They’ve found a hole in the system. Something that hasn’t been regulated into a corporate cartel.”

    I think you may be onto something, Brent. Witness the popularity of flea markets. Also there used to be a popular show called Antiques Roadshow that had unusual ratings for a PBS program …

    I wonder too if a show’s concept and survival is as much about ratings as it used to be. There is such a glut of cable channels that maybe all a cable owner has to do is turn a profit, even a small one, and if he can attract just enough advertisers to pay the bills, that’s good enough. They aren’t looking for ‘blockbuster ratings’, they’re just looking to keep their head above the water line.

    Yesterday at the gym I was working a machine that allowed me to see all the wall-mounted TV screens at once. Virtually all the programming was junk, inessential for any kind of quality of life. Animal Planet had a show comprised entirely of video clips of cats doing cute things. How much of that can even a minimally sentient human being stand to watch before he screams and jumps out the window?

    If three-quarters of cable channels went dark, we’d all be better off. If a cable owner can produce six episodes of a junk show and pay expenses and put bread on the table, maybe that’s the best they can hope for.

    But also, maybe the junk show audience is manifesting the old hunter-gatherer thing. Maybe the hunt is the main part. I bet at treasure hunting storytelling time, the time and difficulty spent finding that Perfect Thing is the best part of the story!

  2. The only idiots watching basic cable are junk collectors? I think that’s it! I’ve been wondering the same shit and that’s all I can come up with. I just watched the gold mining in the ocean show last night. It got me thinking about selling some of my current junk and building a rig to mine with. I’m looking for some divers. You interested? LOL

  3. 2 theories:

    1) The ruling class wants to show us that possessions are a hindrance and ownership is actually a detriment to happiness (unless you’re a rapper or sports celebrity).

    2) People like my parents who have a house full of collectibles, who think they’ll see something they own go for big bucks, or congratulate themselves at passing on something that is basically worthless but looks expensive.

    2a) People like me, who’s parents have a house full of worthless crap, watch these shows because we think we’ll cash in when mom and pop kick the bucket. (although in my case, I’m just going to call the auctioneer and take whatever I can get because I don’t want to deal with any of it).

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