Penumbra Psychollama is the world’s leading exponent of the art of understanding just why people all around the world watch so much junk TV. She first began her studies at a very young age watching cheap mass produced made-for-TV cartoons on a children’s channel at the age of four. This she claims enabled her to get the prestigious chair of TV tie-Ins in the Retail Sciences Faculty at the University of Shopping in Biggleswade.
It was there that Psychollama first came up with her General Theory of Junk TV. This theory claimed there was something about junk TV that made it especially attractive to human beings. Psychollama claimed there was some kind of force – as yet unknown to science – that attracted people towards the TV. Her revolutionary idea was that it wasn’t the quality or otherwise of the programmes that made people watch TV, but this force produced by the TV set itself attracted people to it.
She went on to claim that the worse the TV programme, the less there was any other distraction for the viewer. Thus, the strength of this force was undiluted, making its attraction stronger to the people near the TV.
Many other Media Studies academics were dismissive of Psychollama’ ideas, mainly because they had an interest in the content of programmes, somehow thinking that content was significant or important in itself. If Psychollama was proved correct, they feared, then their subject – so highly regarded by both other academics and the public in general – would be then seen as a waste of time and student fees. This was something they believed would throw not only academic Media Studies into disarray and make it lose all respect in other people’s eyes, but also put them all out of a job.
Students too were horrified by the implications of the theory. Most Media Studies students had devoted the whole of their lives so far to making in-depth studies of TV programmes from an early age. Some of them watched more TV in a single day during childhood than the rest of their peers put together. Most of them had never set a foot outdoors during primetime. There was a great deal of fear that such a move would make some people – not many, of course, but a significant number – wonder if watching so much mediocre or poor TV could be a waste of time, and a waste of their lives.
However, to demonstrate the truth of her thesis, Psychollama, set up a bank of TV sets in the waiting areas in several government offices around the UK that deal with the public. These TVs she set up to show only the most boring political interviews she could find. Normally the kind of stuff that the TV channels put on when they are sure no-one with any sanity (which obviously excludes those with any interest in politics) was watching.
Despite the sheer unwatchability of the content, it seemed that the ordinary members of the public would watch any old guff on a TV when they were in its vicinity. This, Psychollama claimed was absolute proof of her thesis that it is the TV itself, through the force it emits that makes people watch it, irrespective of what programme was on it.
Which, many people claimed, was something they knew all along.