Let me first begin by declaring that, in what follows, I am not saying anything I haven’t already shared with her. I do not believe that a blog post is the proper venue to speak boldly about matters I am afraid to bring up in personal conversation with my spouse, and while my performance is far from exemplary in the healthy marital communication area, what I am about to say here will be neither novel nor shocking to the fetching Mrs. Ellison’s ears. She’s heard it all before.
And if what I have to say below strikes readers as extreme or fanatical, I can assure you that only my wife has heard the unfiltered version. You are going to read instead the diplomatic, restrained, Hitler’s-foreign-minister-speaks-to-English-journalists-in-1938 version, which I share in the public interest and not out of some desire to take a private matter into the open.
But I absolutely detest HGTV. It is a tool of diabolical agency, and people who watch it regularly and uncritically, even with the mute function firmly engaged as I recommend, are in desperate spiritual peril. This is not something about which reasonable people who are striving for holiness can disagree.
All the programming on HGTV exists for one purpose: to make viewers dislike their own bathrooms, kitchens, homes, husbands, and entire lives—and then to make them try to soothe this acute and burning pain with the salve of spending ghastly sums of money on home-improvement goods and services conveniently offered by the advertisers and sponsors of the programming. The network starts by aggravating the unease and longing that are a fundamental dimension of our fallen, sinful homelessness in the world, but then, exchanging a lie for truth, they stimulate appetites for things like polished granite counters and hardwood floors instead of, well, Heaven.
The shows excite our love for what St. Augustine rightly calls the lowest order of goods, namely, the beautiful and fungible things of this world, and thus necessarily do they make us less interested in or even aware of higher higher goods that we cannot see or buy at Lowe’s. They make us to desire more ardently not the Beauty that is ever ancient, ever new, but rather the style of shower tile that is really hot this year.
Have you noticed how all those remodeling programs always end with a fake revelation scene, a bastard theophany? You know what I am talking about: at show’s end, the surprised homeowners are shown their newly-redone bedrooms or yards by the impossibly well-put-together/hunky/cute/sexy program hosts. A door is opened, a curtain parted, or a truck moved, the soundtrack music gets even more upbeat, and the religiously-ecstatic homeowners ALWAYS shout the same thing when they see the results of the project for the first time: “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!” Like the Hitler of Mein Kampf, they at least possess the virtue of honestly declaring to the world what they really believe in.
At special moments of clarity, HGTV shows openly celebrate particular instances of the deceptive, meretricious, phony, sham reality that is the general spirit of the entire enterprise. I recently saw a program in which a re-done living room featured a “keggerator”, which looks like a mini-fridge but which actually contains a hidden and fully-tapped pony keg of beer, I guess so that the homeowner (“Oh my God that is SO AWESOME!”) can conceal from his friends the fact that he is a lush, or that he usually drinks Bud Light.
This same homeowner was ecstatic over another feature of the redecorated den that I could not have made up even if I wanted to unfairly mock the show: a 9’x12’, digitally-produced WALLPAPER image of a FAKE BOOKCASE, well-stocked with real-looking, life-sized, 2-dimensional images of thick old books of various heights and colors, but with neither authors nor titles on the spines. (Come on: even the phony Great Gatsby had REAL books in his impossibly-perfect sham house on West Egg.) “We had this specially made and flown in from London,” explained the designer-host to the suitably-impressed homeowner (“Oh my God! That looks so REAL!”), apparently having gone to such lengths and expense because no ACTUAL BOOKS could be found on the cheap locally, discarded from public libraries that are moving towards Kindle-only lending, or from schools and colleges jettisoning any printed materials that are more than 5 years old because they cannot be trusted to adequately reflect present victimological orthodoxies.
Now there are plenty of innocuous or even salutary and uplifting things on television, such as EWTN and the Speed Channel. But HGTV is evil, and if you aren’t outraged by it, you aren’t paying attention. Holy Scripture itself speaks about it, and there is nothing more I could possibly add to the Word, so I shall close therewith:
The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
(P.S.: I love you, Honey.)
Share on Facebook