December 6, 2013
(If you liked this image, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-sound-of-music-performances-throughout-history/2013/12/03/6e1554c4-5c40-11e3-be07-006c776266ed_gallery.html">you can see a whole SLIDESHOW!</a>)
(If you liked this image, you can see a whole SLIDESHOW!)

Well, ‘The Sound of Music Live’ attracted a full 18.5 million viewers, the overwhelming majority of whom were tweeting about how UNBEARABLY LOUSY it was.

Of course we were.

We used to have live sporting events. Now we have live unsporting events. It’s a ritual. Drink in one hand, second screen in the other, everyone gathered around the television for the Ritual Skewering of the Underwood. It’s the Hunger Games, but instead of forcing Jennifer Lawrence to run around shooting a bow and shielding Peeta, a fragile soul who tended to resemble a limp bread, we force Carrie Underwood to run around singing and showcasing her acting ability, a fragile thing that tends to resemble a limp bread.

Carrie Underwood emerged intact from the first challenge, Singing, Then Speaking, Then Making A Face (Any Face! Doesn’t Necessarily Have To Be Related To The Words You Just Said or Sang!) but was flagging by the time she reached the higher levels of challenge, which ranged from Don’t Do Something Terrifying To Your Hair and Now Appear To Be Attracted To, Not Alarmed By, Stephen Moyer.

I sent a parachute to her with some hair cream and a tool for getting water from trees, but the items were slowing her down so she quickly discarded them during a break while the Baroness and Max sang Song Three Of Three About The Anschluss That Was Cut From The Movie Version And You Could See Why, Even Though It Was Delightful.

“Are you seeing this?” everyone says.

Yes, we are. All 18.5 million of us, and that’s before the DVR numbers roll in.

That’s what all this is for — Twitter, social media, all of it. To be able to turn to someone (maybe across a continent or maybe just in the seat next to you) and say, “Are you seeing this?” We still need a text as basis for our commentary, though — something that turns all our heads the same way, however briefly. Barely. The article is just that thing that someone has to write so you can stick a comment at the bottom. It hardly matters what it says. What you say about it is what counts.

Every so often we require a naked emperor to go parading through our midst so we can all point at him and say, “Those aren’t new clothes at all!” in a variety of ways to our variety of audiences.

Will Rogers said “We can’t all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” Or sit on the curb and scoff, as the case may be.

In the future there will be no events, just pretexts for us to commiserate together. There are few joys like the joy of heckling a live performance, safely from the comfort of your chair without stopping the show.

When “It’s A Wonderful LIVE” and “Les Miserables: Extra Live” and “Love Actually! The Live Musical Tribute But With The Original Cast And J. K. Rowling Is There Too For Some Reason” and “Rent! Actually! Liver! With Sharks!” come flocking to our television screens in coming years, we will have only ourselves to blame, as we do every time a Top Ten list is written about Honey Boo Boo. They wouldn’t build it if we hadn’t come. Orwell was a piker. Two minutes’ hate? Only? We can sustain it for HOURS!

It would be easier to stop this if complaining weren’t so much fun. You can bear almost anything, as long as you reserve the right to complain about it. This is the secret to most family reunions.

Was NBC genuinely expecting this to be good? Were we? Surely not. But that was what made you tune in. “Wow, last night’s Sound of Music hate-watch drew 18.5 million viewers,” tweeted @TheMattFowler. “Lesson learned is, let’s just Sharknado everything.”

Pretty much. And do it live!

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.