The Boob Tube
By Dave Barry
Recently, one of our local TV news shows in Miami did a special
investigative report on -- I swear -- brassiere sizes. The station
promoted this report relentlessly for several days. Every few minutes
you'd hear an announcer's voice saying, with an urgency appropriate
for imminent nuclear attack: "ARE YOU WEARING THE WRONG BRA SIZE??"
You'd have thought that women were dropping dead in the street by the
thousands as a result of improperly sized brassieres. I was becoming
genuinely concerned about this problem, despite the fact that, except
on very special occasions involving schnapps, I don't even wear a
Unfortunately, although I saw dozens of promotions for this special
investigative report, I never saw the report itself. I assumed that
the message would be: "Wear the right size brassiere!" My editor,
Tom Shroder, who has a keen interest in the issues, did watch the
report, and he told me that it explored the troubling question of
"women wearing brassieres that were tragically about 10 sizes too
small for their breasts, which left said breasts with no other choice
but to spill, tragically, out of the brassiere cups into the camera
But my point here is not directly related to brassieres, although it IS
a lot of fun to use the word ``brassiere'' in a newspaper column,
brassiere brassiere brassiere. My point is that, pound for pound, the
most dramatic and entertaining programming on television is your local
TV news shows. Their only serious competition is the cable channel that,
24 hours a day, features the TV Evangelists With Hairdos The Size Of
If you don't receive the Big-Haired Evangelists channel, you need to
march right down to your cable company and throw rocks through the
windows until you get it, because these people are WAY more entertaining
than any space alien you will ever see on Star Trek. My favorite is a
woman with a gigantic mound of hair colored exactly the same designer
shade as Bazooka brand bubble gum. Perhaps this fact explains why, almost
every time I tune in, this woman is weeping. Her tear ducts must be as
big as volleyballs. Using the standard evangelical measurement of Gallons
of Weepage Per Broadcast (GWPB), this woman could very well be
threatening the seemingly unbreakable records set back in the glorious
'80s by Hall-of-Famer Tammy Faye Bakker. I would pay serious money to see
a Weep-Off between these two great performers.
But as entertaining as these shows are, their message tends to be
somewhat repetitive (``God loves you! So send us money!''). Whereas on
your local TV news shows, they're always surprising you with dramatic new
issues that you should be nervous about. Often these involve ordinary
consumer items that, when subjected to the scrutiny of a TV news
investigative report, mutate into deadly hazards. (John R. Gambling of
radio station WOR in New York has a wonderful collection of promotions
for these TV news reports, including one wherein the announcer says:
"TONIGHT AT 6: YOUR DRY CLEANING CAN KILL YOU!!")
A while back, one of our Miami TV news shows -- I think it was different
from the one that warned us about improperly fitted brassieres brassieres
brassieres -- did a dramatic, heavily promoted investigative report on:
frozen yogurt. This report, which seemed at least as long as Alien
Resurrection, but scarier, investigated the possibility of deadly
bacteria in our frozen-yogurt supply. If I understood the report
correctly, there have never been any cases of any actual person actually
being harmed by local frozen yogurt, but that seemed like a minor
technicality. The point was: IT COULD HAPPEN! THE YOGURT OF DEATH!!
The way I have dealt with this menace is by taking the medical precaution
of never eating frozen yogurt without first putting large quantities of
chocolate fudge on it, on the scientific theory that the bacteria will eat
the fudge and become too fat to do anything inside my body except sit
around and belch. But I would not know to do this if it were not for
local TV news.
I also would not know how I am supposed to feel about many stories if not
for the fact that the TV news personalities make sad faces for sad
stories and happy faces for happy stories. Sometimes, to make sure I
understand the point, they come right out and tell me, at the end of each
story, whether it was "tragic" or "nice."
FIRST PERSONALITY: What a tragic story, Bob.
SECOND PERSONALITY: Uh . . . no, it wasn't.
FIRST PERSONALITY: It wasn't?
SECOND PERSONALITY: No. That was the story about dogs playing mah-jongg.
FIRST PERSONALITY: Whoops! I had it confused with the story about the
plane crashing into the orphanage! Ha ha!
SECOND PERSONALITY: Ha ha! Coming up, we'll have part four of our special
investigative report: "Formica: Silent Killer In Your Kitchen."
Well, I see we've run out of time, so that's all for this week's column.
Remember to be nervous about everything. And now for these words:
brassiere brassiere brassiere.