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Basically, This Cable Is Trash

On a normal day, all the broadcast networks combined won't offer as much worthwhile fare as does, say, cable's History Channel. Then again, though their standards have markedly declined, there's nothing on broadcast television that stoops quite so low as what can be found on cable. Even more damning for cable, some of its most vile programming is aimed deliberately at children.

Two such programs are "The Tom Green Show" and "Celebrity Deathmatch," which can be found on MTV, the so-called music network generally avoided by adults but a mecca for pubescent youngsters. I suppose that children have excuses for watching and enjoying this sludge - namely, their parents' irresponsibility and their own immaturity - but the adults at MTV have no excuse for producing and distributing it.

Green is a Canadian comedian who, unlike his countrymen Dan Aykroyd and John Candy, has no discernible talent. He also has neither taste nor shame, the absence of which defines his entire shtick. He conducts man-on-the-street interviews using a microphone caked with excrement. He sings about his sidekick, who, according to Green's song, "likes his sister's boobies a lot/He thinks she's hot."

He's read aloud a series of stupid, vulgar insults to Long Beach, California ("Last time I was in Long Beach, some blind guy sucked my [bleep] for ten dollars"). He's placed a statue of his parents on their front lawn. A gift from a devoted son, perhaps? Hardly. The statue depicts them having sex.

Speaking of sex and his parents, earlier this month Green invited none other than Monica Lewinsky to stay with him at his parents' house while Lewinsky taped a segment for Green's show in Ottawa. Reportedly, the two are "just friends." I'm sorry to hear that; they seem made for each other in the same way soiled diapers and empty milk cartons are made for the garbage dump.

As grotesque as Green is, he has met his match in the other MTV travesty, "Celebrity Deathmatch," in which claymation representations of the famous fight each other to the point of dismemberment and, of course, death.

A typical encounter, matching figures of Tiger Woods and Andre Agassi, begins with Woods at his golf bag, saying, "Let's see, now...the three-iron could splatter Andre's brains nicely. On the other hand, the five-wood might be suitable to drive his [testicles] into his sphincter..." Agassi then throws his racket like a tomahawk, lodging it in Woods' skull.

Agassi proceeds to sever one of Woods' hands with the racket, knock one of his eyes out with one of his own clubs, and kill him by firing tennis balls up his rectum until he explodes. Oh, yes, and Agassi pauses to repeatedly run over his ex-wife Brooke Shields with a golf cart.

"Celebrity Deathmatch" has no redeeming qualities. It is the basest type of pandering, the sort of sick stuff posing as humor you expect in a country that can't even outlaw partial-birth abortion because it poses as a medical treatment.

MTV isn't the only offender on cable TV. No discussion of the topic is complete without reference to Comedy Central, a network that was once truly funny but now panders to the gutter mentality. A recent episode of that channel's notorious "South Park" dealt with two heterosexual middle-aged men, husbands and fathers, who indulge in a little "harmless experimenting" by masturbating in front of one another, then trade assurances that what they've done is "not gay or anything." At a party, a third man says to them, "I've done it," and other men chime in: "Me, too." "I've done it twice."

Comedy Central's "Strangers With Candy" features one Jerri Blank, a former drug addict and prostitute in her mid-forties who's now attending high school. In a recent episode, Jerri tells a blind student, "I think it's brave of you, wanting to play football. I think it's sexy. It makes me damp as a cellar down there, all mildewy...Don't worry, I can't get pregnant. My ovaries are diseased."

The corporation primarily to blame for this filth is Viacom, owner of all of MTV and part (along with Time Warner) of Comedy Central. Ironically, Viacom's headquarters are in the new, family-friendly Times Square. Rudy Giuliani may have cleaned up the peep shows in the area, but the cultural waste approved many floors above street level in the executive suites, disseminated throughout America and directed not at discerning adults but rather at impressionable children, is at a record high.