I know I sound like a dinosaur, but I’ll say it: EEEERAAAAWWWKKKKKKKK.
No, I’m sorry, I meant to say something that only made me sound like a dinosaur metaphorically: I love America’s Funniest Home Videos.
It’s like the appendix of television. It’s a relic of a bygone time with little practical purpose — the wisdom tooth, the coccyx, the wing of the ostrich. It does not make sense. Yet it’s there.
It’s there, on ABC at 7, with its set of carefully compiled home videos of people who either do not realize that the Internet exists or would rather act as though it didn’t. It’s there so that Bergeron can make his guests play “the head, the gut or the groin” (guess where the person in this video is about to get hit!). It’s there so that I can yell at whoever has the clicker for instantly sighing and changing the channel. It’s a staple.
But now Tom Bergeron, its long-time host (he took over in 2001, following prior hosts Bob Saget and the team of John Fugelsang and Daisy Fuentes), has announced he’s leaving the program.
And where does that leave us?
People suggest it’s time to send the clip show into that good night.
It’s probably logical, but it’s sad. Among the great things about it, as “The Loop” pointed out, was the fact that it could not tailor its experience viewer by viewer, forcing it to cater to all tastes. Videos of Cats Running Into Things and Babies Putting Things In Their Mouths That You Wish They Wouldn’t Put In Their Mouths go head-to-head with videos of Old Ladies Falling Over At Weddings and Over-Ambitious Gymnasts. You never knew what you were going to like. It was a great intermediary.
And there are so few of those left these days.
We are moving toward an era in which everyone has to do everything on his own. We book our own travel, iron our own clothes. It used to be that it was the job of servants, for those people lucky enough to have them, or of wives, for everyone else. Now everyone has managed to claw up to the exact level of equality and opportunity where it is everyone’s job to do everything all the time. A travel agent won’t book your travel. You’ll book your travel. You have to write your own book reviews, grout your own tile, make your own dang sandwiches. When your child falls into a lake and you get it on video, you can’t just send it to Hollywood and then get flown out there to have Tom Bergeron shower you with modified adulation and $10,000. You have to upload it and wait.
It’s exhausting. If you want Viral Success, you have to do the fame-making equivalent of beating several stone giants to death using only your wits, clawing your way up from YouTube, being, as Justin Bieber put it, “detrimental” to your own success.
America’s Funniest Home Videos handles it for you. Flies you in, flies you out, hands you money, no management needed. And on the viewing end, sometimes you just want to relax and see a dog knock over an old man without having to put in the effort of clicking through the related videos one by one. America’s Funniest Videos handles that, too. It’s a great middleman. I can see why it would go, but I’ll miss it.