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November 03, 1989 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-11-03
This is a tabloid page

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Cover Story
Continued from Page 11
The VCR undisputably stands
out, though, as the most significant
change to TV in the last decade. It
has given us complete power over
our sets, and lets us watch television
we ordinarily might not be home to
watch. The VCR has unchained us
from the holy TV guide and given us

the tree om to create our own sceo-
ules, allowing us to watch anything
we want, whenever we want. If it
isn't on television, you can bet
Blockbuster has it. With all these
options, why would anyone ever
leave their homes?
Although the addition of the
VCR to the teleworld of the 1980's
has made this decade the "Golden
Age of Video," it has strengthened
the umbilical electrical cord to our

souls. Now, as the sun sets on a
teledecade, we are imprisioned more
than ever to that box of psychobab-
A Couch Potato Gener-
ation Discovers Remote
Control Life
I just finished a chem lab so
tonight I'm gonna do some major
power viewing.
-A friend of mine, recently


Professor Conrad Kottak teaches
an anthropology course at the Uni-
versity about television and its cul-
tural effects. In his study of the
topic, Prime Time Society, Profes-
sor Kottak notes that many of his
students have been "teleconditioned"
by their ingrained viewing habits
sustained through years of intense
"Considering how common di-
vorce has become, the TV set even
outlasts the father in many homes,"
Kottak said. With the newfound me-
chanical member of the family, peo-
ple, especially young people who
watch the most television, become
teleconditioned by constant viewing.
1 /
"Televiewing causes people to
duplicate inappropriately, in other
areas of their lives, behavior styles
developed while watching televi-
sion," he said. This kind of behav-
ior can also lead to "tele-emulation,"
especially when we find parents
naming their children Blake, Krystal,
and Alexis.
Studying, reading, and talking
with the TV on is a natural part of
our lives. When the need arises to do
any of these activities and there is no
TV around, we find substitutions for
noise and distraction with a radio or
loud environment, Kottak claims.
He tells of once finding a woman in
his class reading a paperback, who,
when questioned, replied she wasn't
in the class but needed someplace to
The 1980's saw the birth of the
now-coveted couch potato, profes-
sional or semi-professional televi-
sion addicts. Because of the boom of
cable and VCR this decade, TV has
become one of America's favorite
leisure activities. According to a
1986 TV Guide study of which ac-
tivities Americans get "a great deal
of pleasure and satisfaction" from,
watching TV finished first - ahead
of sex, food, liquor, money or
sports. In another TV Guide study,
people were asked about their fa-
vorite "relaxing" activities. Again,
TV finished first in the hearts and
minds of Americans.
What does this all say about our
society and culture?
Music, reading, education, enjoy-
ing the outdoors, having a conversa-
tion with a friend, vacations, recre-
ation - all of these activities have

Innovative, not horrifying: Shocker faiL

been replaced to a large extent by
television in the 1980's.
We are a people that feels more
comfortable watching Judge Wapner
than actually heading down to the
courthouse to watch a trial our-
selves. We watch and watch and
watch as a way to subsidize all the
inadequacies in our lives. TV fills a
void and the more we watch it, the
more complete we feel. We become
better people for it.
Because of cable and the VCR,
we are more easily able to escape our
insignificant existences and hurl our
imaginations to the mercy of over-
paid writers at the Fox network.
Although the potential for televi-
sion to be a worthwhile tool of
communication is well known, it is
seldom used for that purpose. In-
stead, television spoonfeeds igno-
rance pudding and selfless sundaes to
us. Glossy commercials with thin
and beautiful people reinforce in our
minds how fat and unattractive we
are, so we buy their gel or creme or
pills to become more culturally at-
1 {
These are not phenomena of the
1980's alone. But as television has
become the single most important
part of our lives, even more impor-
tant than ourselves, we are a people
in decline. David Letterman may be
right. Television may bring down
the cuftain on our society, but I'll
still watch him anyway.. Right after
Magnum P.!. reruns at midnight.
UM News in
The Daily

By Brent Edwards
In Wes Craven's Shocker, Ho-
race Pinker is mad. Really mad. And
with a name like that, I would be
mad, too. He's so mad, he kills
whole families, including the inves-
tigating detective's. And just when
you think he's as mad as he can be,
Pinker is caught and sent to the elec-
tric chair, which makes him even
Yes, horror films are out just in
time for Halloween, and this one
isn't even a sequel. Writer-director
Craven (Nightmare On Elm Street,
The Serpent and the Rainbow) in-
troduces us to his latest creation,
Horace Pinker. Horace not only has
the ability to enter and possess bod-
ies but also to give your TV a 3-D
effect by jumping out of the screen
and slashing your throat. These spe-
cial talents put him beyond the level
of the more mundane psycho-killers
like Jason and Michael Myers and
into the exotic and far more interest-
ing realm of those like Freddie
Shocker's suspense and horror do
not rest solely, as most slasher films
do, on who will die next and by
what grisly method. In fact, there are
surprisingly few on-screen murders.
Instead, the movie is a good versus
evil struggle between the movie's
hero, Jonathan, and Pinker. Jonathan


Mass-murderer Horace Pinker gets really mad when he's sentenced to death.

armon's Worth Winning
isn't even worth watching

By Mark Binelli
Remember that really bad Jack
Nicholson movie from a few sum-
mers back, where Nicholson played
the devil and seduced Cher, Michelle
Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon, and
then in the end the three of them get
together and castrate him or some-
Well, just take Nicholson's char-
acter and make him a TV weather-
man. Then get three more gorgeous
actresses for him to seduce, send
them through the whole "woman
scorned" thing and culminate it in
another sadistic, audience-pleasing
revenge and you've got Mark (The
Sexiest Man Alive) Harmon's latest
celebration of human stupid-
ity,Worth Winning.
The film is appropriately titled
Worth Winning because it's about
this wacky bet between Harmon's
character, Taylor Worth, and his pal
Ned, played by Mark Blum (The
Presidio). You see, Ned is so silly
that he doesn't believe Taylor (who,
don't forget, is being played by The
Sexiest Man Alive) can get engaged
to three radically different women at
the same time. What a sucker.
After easily snaring a buxom
blond, played by Swedish newcomer
Maria Holvoe, and a sexually re-
pressed housewife, played by Lesley
Ann Warren (Victor/Victoria), Tay-
lor must add to his collection the
most difficult acquisition, one of
those (gasp!) thinking types, a New
Age concert pianist played by
Madeleine Stowe (Stakeout). Of

course, Stowe quickly drops any
nasty feminist tendencies and melts
in the arms of The Sexiest Man
Alive. But the punchline is that Tay-
lor winds up really falling in love
with her, and now he's engaged to
two other women as well! Oh no!
What will happen next?
Everybody knows what will hap-
pen next (the revelation, the pun-
ishment, the forgiveness, the hap-
pily ever after), but nobody really
cares.Worth Winning is an obnox-
iously sexist farce, essentially im-
plying that no woman can withstand
the onslaught of the Stud-God Har-
mon. It is in especially poor taste,
because what Harmon does is down-
played as this relatively harmless
"boys will be boys" joke. Yeah, he
didn't play nice with the girls, but
they teach him a lesson at the end,
don't they?
The plot might have been pulled
off if Harmon's already manipulating
and unsympathetic character was
made out to be a complete bastard
(where's Danny DeVito when you
need him?) instead of this lovable
screw-up who we're supposed to
eventually forgive.
Much of the fault lies with the
writers and with director Will
Mackenzie, making his feature-film
debut. Mackenzie's past work on
"Moonlighting" is evident in Worth
Winning: Harmon's character is al-
ways looking into the camera to
make charming little asides. But
they don't work, largely because the
lines just aren't funny, but also be-

or Nr~W tLQE$ LP

Mark Harmon
cause Harmon is an annoyingly plas-
tic actor, a one-dimensional Ken
Doll who turns off the audience in-
stead of winning it over.
The Sexiest Man Alive really
seems more suited for the small
screen, as in his portrayal of the re-
cently-executed mass-murderer Ted
Bundy in The Deliberate Stranger.
But as far as films go, well, let's
just say that when Summer School
is the height of your career, you're
in pretty bad shape.
See Winning, Page 13

Page 12 Weekend/November 3,1989

Weekend/November 3,1989

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