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9:06 a.m. - Monday, Jun. 28, 2004
I Get All Philosophical About an Idiotic T.V. Show
In just about every episode, America's Funniest Home Videos will have a painfully long clip featuring a very small child with food on its face. The audience seems to find this uproariously funny. On the season finale show last night, a clip featuring a child with a piece of spaghetti hanging out of its nose was voted the grand-prize winner.

I'm wondering why these people don't film their grandfather, lost in the throes of senile dementia, with food on his face. They don't film such things, unless they're contemplating a lawsuit against the nursing home; even if they did, America's Funniest Home Videos wouldn't air it; even if they did, the audience wouldn't laugh.

So what's the difference? In both cases, it's a lack of mental capacity that makes the subject unable to feed himself neatly and unaware of his own transgressions against etiquette.

In both cases, it's only temporary. The child will grow up (and no, they never feature 11-year-old developmentally disabled children with food on their faces); the grandfather will die.

So why is one funny, and one not?

I have some theories, but, given that I've been questioning my own sanity a lot lately, and given also that I have proven to my own satisfaction (via my survey on garden hoses) that I'm out of touch with the life experience of most human beings, I suppose my theories are all crap.

I would say that it's a delightful sense of superiority to that child (see my previous post on feeling like a friggin' genius when a five-year-old asks me to spell "peanut butter"), except that we are equally superior to the senile grandfather.

...For the moment, that is. I was like that child, but now I'm better. Now I'm better than that grandfather, but in another 20 years I may be like him. That's the difference, perhaps. But given the enormous capacity of human beings to deny the obvious if it doesn't please them, I still wonder.

That also fails to account for the revulsion that some people feel upon seeing a baby nursing at its mother's breast. Why isn't THAT funny?


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