Quite honestly, network TV usually won’t have anything that bizarre. The FCC and the Bland Television Act of 1968 make sure of that. So, you’re really relying on the independent stations and PBS.
Last Friday evening, PBS came through! First off, a "commercial" announcing an upcoming program came on, and it began with a pastoral scene of some cattle grazing and generally doing nothing. A little music plays in the background, and then you hear the voice of a man saying, "Choosing between beautiful cows is like choosing between two beautiful women." (At this point, I don’t even need to describe to you what this guy looked like because whatever mental image you have, it’s correct!) I honestly fell a bit into some sort of fugue and never truly learned the theme of the program being advertised. I was too bewildered to pay attention to anything more being said on the screen. Given the fact this was PBS, I believe it’s fair to guess it wasn’t a new game show in which lonely men interview three heifers behind a blind screen and try to determine which one would be the most fun on a date. Nor could I see how the looks of the cows in question could be a determining factor in the quality of the meat or milk they produce, so it wasn’t a new cooking show.
As I continued to turn that bedeviling statement over and over in my mind, another program came on about cats that compete in shows. Having grown up in a household in which the family pets were cats rather than dogs, I must admit that I was intrigued – that and the fact one of the cats being featured was named Nicole Kidman (who bore a striking resemblance to her namesake).
About ten minutes into the program, my interest was beginning to wane when suddenly the producers cut to an interview with a gentleman in which he said, "I have photographed over 50,000 cats in my lifetime." That’s right, he said 50,000. Now that’s one goal-oriented guy!
But the payoff comes just after the interview. The next thing you see on the screen is one of the judges reaching into one of the cages, extracting one of the feline contestants and hoisting it into the air for all so see. The judge doesn’t just hold up the cat, but she places one hand just behind the front legs of the cat and her other hand just in front of the back legs and stretches the cat out so everyone can see it in all its furry glory. (Obviously, these cats are heavily medicated because they don’t even flinch.) While you’re watching the judge walking around, cat aloft in the same position as a spear in the hands of a Zulu warrior, you hear someone say, "These cat shows are just like the Miss America pageant." Then, the judge places the cat on a small display platform and proceeds to hold up its tail and look at its hindquarters with a "probing" finger – all the while, the Prozac cat doesn’t bat an eye.
This got me to thinking: if the Miss America pageant were really run like these cat shows, the Nielsen rating system would have to be revamped to measure the gazillions of viewers it would draw. Now that would be the true test of beauty! Answering questions about world peace and wearing evening dresses are child’s play compared to keeping a straight face while being hoisted above Bob Barker’s head and . . .