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Lose Weight: Watch Television

By Dave Fox
Seattle, Washington 

This week’s column is about something that affects us all: vomit!

I know what you’re thinking: “Dave, this is repulsive. Are you so desperate for material that you must stoop to this level?”

The answer to your question is: Yes. But don’t blame me. I’m stealing the idea from network television, where puking has recently become a clever way to breathe life into shows that would otherwise have no socially redeeming qualities.

I remember back in the 20th century, I used to be able to sit down in front of the TV with a beer and some leftover Thai food, and feel entertained in spite of my pathetic bachelor existence. Eating dinner alone never felt lonely. I had television. But I can’t watch TV while I eat anymore. In the last year, it has become fashionable to show people puking their guts out on primetime television.

In the olden days, when we had quality TV like “B.J. and the Bear” and Jerry Springer, if someone was about to throw up, producers would stop the action just before the act of regurgitation, and flash dramatic Batman-style words like “Oops!” or “Pow!” on the screen to cover up the event. Not anymore. Full-frontal vomiting is in vogue these days.

Reality television is the worst offender. I know… these shows are pathetic and I shouldn’t watch them in the first place, but keep in mind I could be spending my evenings smoking crack or stealing cars or telemarketing.

My first televomit encounter occurred on “Survivor.” It was one of those episodes where they had to eat rotting fish or gout-infected sea slugs or some such Survivor-esque gourmet meal. (And the show is sponsored by Snickers?) Then it happened on “Fear Factor.” Contestants raced against time to eat coagulated cow’s blood and live, wriggling worms — with no utensils and their hands tied behind their backs. I wonder about the people who produce these shows. Are they proud of their jobs?

“Hey honey, guess what fun new game I created at work today?”

On a new MTV show called “I Bet You Will,” a frat boy at some undoubtedly prestegious university agreed to eat a high-in-fiber text book washed down with cod liver oil. More vomit. Why would anyone eat a book? They paid him 80 bucks. It was a win-win situation: cheap programming for MTV, and enough beer money for the frat boy to throw up every night for a week.

“Road Rules,” another fine MTV program, challenged the cast to gain two-and-a-half pounds each in four hours. Struggling against nausea, they gulped down every high-fat food they could find. Just as their four hours were up, I was wolfing down some fettucini. Having met their goal, the Road Rulers commenced vomiting. I hit the mute button, which was a good thing because the next scene took things even farther with a shot underneath a bathroom stall. All you could see was a pair of jeans wrapped around the ankles. I can only speculate on the sound effects.

When I was 12, my friend Lee came to spend the night at my house, and a documentary came on TV with a parental discretion warning at the beginning. The show was about a controversial murder trial. It included scenes in which lawyers used a lot of words like “trucking” and “bucking,” only they all started with “F.”

My friend Lee and I appreciated the parental discretion warning because it alerted us to the fact that we needed to turn down the volume enough that my parents wouldn’t know what we were watching.

If you ask me, the FCC needs to require vomit warnings.

“The following program contains graphic scenes of projectile regurgitation and should not be viewed by anyone other than giggling 12-year-old boys who think gross stuff is cool. This network accepts no responsibility if your semi-digested dinner ends up on your cat. However if it does, and you capture the moment on home video, send your tapes to ‘America’s Nastiest Home Puke Videos.’ You may win the big $10,000 prize.”

The good news about all of this vomit is it’s an effective weight loss tool. Watch these shows while you’re eating. You’ll lose your appetite for Phad Thai.

Published on Tuesday, October 22, 2002

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