Transcendental Bloviation

Politics, Space, Japan

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Autism Causes Television

Well, if people can say television causes autism only because there's some correlation, why not the other way around?

Ever notice how the talking heads on television use such exaggerated facial expressions? Sure, there are exceptions, but how many people actually watch McNeil-Lehrer? Usually it's some newscaster who looks like she's going to pull some muscles around her mouth. It's articulation as X-treme Sport. And that's just the news. What about popular fictional TV series? As Sigourney Weaver once said, dismissively, of most TV actors: "They're not acting. They're ... indicating." I love watching 24, but it almost works with the sound off, because they spend so much time overexplaining plot elements to the audience in lieu of actual lines. Daytime talk shows? Don't even get me started about Geraldo. Even Steve Colbert employs body language reminiscent of a cardboard-cutout conservative rationalizer in This Modern World. Johnny Carson had a little subtlety, but now we have Jay Leno, who looks like he was genetically engineered to have a face you could recognize from 100 yards off. It's almost as if, in addressing the television audience, they are talking to people with ... with .. with some kind of social-clue deficit disorder.

Genetic studies suggest that there may be 20 different genes involved in autism. If only some of them are active in people who are not quite clinically autistic, those people might watch more television, might have children with people who are similarly impaired, and have kids that sit in front of the tube a lot in infancy because their parents are. They aren't getting much exercise and they are eating crap, so that have lousy immune systems and digestive systems, common symptoms in the full-blown autistic. Which leaves them ever more couch-bound, and watching ever more television.

Autism Causes Television.


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