The Unwatchables

The Age

by Russell McGilton

“Everyone wants ABS like these.”

The lean torso of a man fills the television screen. His stomach is flat and deeply lined with a corrugated patchwork of ‘perfect’ abdominal muscles – ABS. To me, it looks like he’s swallowed a washing board. If only someone would tell that poor bastard, I think, prodding my healthy paunch.

“Isn’t that FAN-TASTIC!” Stacey twangs nasally to camera, her face choked with teeth.

“Oooooh! Aaaaagh!! Yeeeaaah!” Rounds of watery applause and perfunctory bleats from our ‘spontaneous’ studio audience.

Welcome to America’s Infotainment and all its other generic mutations. Programs guaranteed to keep your body low-fat, Tefloned and perennially Dumbed-Down. It is the sad state of Australian late night television, left in tatters by obtuse programmers. Gone are the nights of spooky Sci-Fi movies that were always worth waiting up for, even when you had to take ‘eye breaks’ during the commercials to keep you going. Instead of classics like ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ we have ‘Invasion of…THE BANAL’.

“ABS! Ya gotta have tight ABS!” Stacey narks. She doesn’t explain why I must have them. “YA JUST GOTTA!”

Two men in black leotards, their bodies stuffed with oranges, are on their backs grunting. They’re trying to do ‘normal’ sit-ups. Of course, they’re making it look so abnormal; lots of strained Boris Yeltsin grimaces and over-acted flopping.

“Doing sit-ups the old way isn’t natural. Just look and see how easy the AB-WORKER is to use.”

The men are handed the object in question. It’s a bulky plastic triangle, full of nooks, holes and sharp corners that sits just above their crotch.

“Oh, yeah. I can really feel it!” one of them grunts enthusiastically, as he pulls upward on the handles. It looks like he’s trying to mate with a giant cheese grater.

“The AB-WORKER is the only product that really works!” Stacey implores, crinkling her sun-tanned sincerity, “It can change your LIFE!”

Sure enough, testimony after testimony is given as to why the AB-WORKER is the only thing that can CHANGE YOUR LIFE! Women who’ve had children, men who’ve had children, children who’ve had adults. It goes on…

“After I had my second child, my stomach was like jello until I got…”

Yep. You guessed it. A drop in IQ.

Like other Infotainment programs, every possible objection is covered just in case you even have the gumption to dare THINK. Loser after loser reiterates verbatim their suspiciously ‘unscripted’ lousy life.

“I wuz feelin’ really depressed. I had no friends, I lost my job, I was homeless, all my children were killed in a car accident…then I tried the new AB-WORKER! It really changed my life!”

“I couldn’t work out the molecular theory on buckey balls. That’s when I decided to try the AB-WORKER! It really changed my life!”

By the end of it all, you feel like contacting your attorney, just so you can defend yourself in court as to why you haven’t bought the AB-WORKER.

“But your honour. I’m an amoeba. What good would-”

“SILENCE! Don’t trifle with me, you single-celled simpleton! You could’ve GROWN A STOMACH with the new AB-WORKER! Guards! The Petri dish!”

Still not convinced? Well…

To prove the abdominal strength of an AB-WORKER aficionado, Stacey has a karate expert pile a house of bricks on one of the beef-cake’s stomachs and stands there ready with a sledge-hammer.

But we can’t this see amazing feat yet, oh, no. Stacey’s gotta build the suspense!

“Stay with us. We’ll be back in a moment.”

So we cut to a commercial. Like that’s a break from what we’ve been watching. Quite disturbingly, I find myself looking forward to it.

It turns out to be an ad for the telephone number for you to call to order the AB-WORKER! Not once, but four times!

“My life is SHIT!” I yell at the television, then hurl a stale dorito at it. “Why are these people never stalked by serial killers, huh? Why aren’t they murdered with their own stay sharp knives?”

“Welcome back.”

“Y-E-S!!”

Stacey takes a HU-U-U-GE swing ( she must really hate this guy). The camera cuts to ‘absolutely unrehearsed’ looks of terror from the studio audience.

The hammer crunches down. WHOP! CRACK!

Bit’s of very breakable bricks shatter everywhere. A piece shoots behind the screen and hits Simon squarely on the tip of his forehead. He smiles sweetly as blood trickles into his eyes. Wait. I’m imagining that bit.

He gets up, brushing the crumbs off his shiny leotard.

“He’s okay, everyone!”

“Whoooah! Yeaah!”

The ultimate demonstration is now complete and the phone number comes up again.

Still, this doesn’t impress me. Then I think, what would? Maybe if they advertised it as “Are you embarrassed about holding your stomach in while having sex? Try the new AB-WORKER!” Then I would have bought it for sure!

But alas, American television producers would find that t-o-o-o crass and demeaning, which is exactly the way I feel about their Infotainment. If television programmers in this country are going to continue to clog the channels with this primordial layer of C.R.A.P. (CONTRIVED, REPETITIVE, AMERICAN, PLOP), then I suggest we all purchase the AB-WORKER. After all, one needs a strong stomach just to sit through it. 