Spike TV: The Network for Morons

It's not possible to express my disgust with SpikeTV, the first so-called network for men, but I'll try. I'll try because I need to understand why television is so bad, so wretched, and why the networks and cable channels continue to foster even more garbage on us because their marketing indicates the viewing public desires more garbage.

SpikeTV used to be the "new" TNN -- a moniker that lasted far, far too long for anyone's taste. Before that, it used to be The National Network, and before that, The Nashville Network. So its identity crisis goes back farther than most people would care to remember. But in any case, some time ago, its company changed the name and wanted to create the "first network for men."

Undoubtedly, the first thing you think of is Lifetime: Television for Women. Now, in the mind of the public, most Lifetime programming consists of dramatic movies wherein a woman is raped, stalked, beaten, diagnosed with a fatal disease and winds up triumphing over all of her adversities. Movies made from Danielle Steel books are a staple, as well as movies based on real-life events. Yet in the process, Lifetime has built an impressive audience, branching its programming into self-help shows, talk shows, celebrity portrait shows and even spawning another cable channel: Lifetime Movie Network. It's so popular and even influential that the channel's two other competitors, We (Women's Entertainment) and Oxygen, are struggling to match the juggernaut that is Television for Women. Lifetime has succeeded in becoming a brand name, and you know this because of its many cultural references on other shows -- even if in the form of jokes.

So, if Lifetime offers all that, then what does SpikeTV offer? If the latter is aimed at men, does that mean it is the antithesis of Lifetime? Will we see movies about raping, stalking, beating, cheating, but from a male's point of view? If you've watched any of the shows on SpikeTV, or its relentlessly stupid promos, you'd conclude that its existence is based on a marketing lie: that all men want to see soft-core porn, sluts on trampolines, American Gladiators, Highlander and loads of Star Trek.

This is what men want? Right now, SpikeTV pretty much as no original programming: in the months preceding its much ballyhooed re-introduction (dampened by Spike Lee's lawsuit over the name), there was a lot of advertising for two (count 'em, two) cartoons. Oh, sorry, they're supposed to be adult cartoons, which for men means only swearing and being even more lewd. Since then, I've scarcely seen an ad for "Gary the Rat" or "Stripperella." So this is it, this is what men want to see. Cartoons. And re-runs.

I'm tired of being told that as a man, I have some innate need to see car shows or stupid bimbos trying to French one another. Or that by default, I must like dumb movies with no plot but lots of shiny things that explode. I have no idea who SpikeTV is trying to reach, but it ain't me. While I don't necessarily want to see movies about guys getting beaten or stalked or diagnosed with a deadly disease, I think I can handle something a little more than a man overcoming adversity when there's no beer in the house.

SpikeTV, you suck.