Kids, watch more television and you'll thank me later

June 01, 1994|By MIKE LITTWIN

As it turns out, the major problem with my childhood was that I wasn't paying attention to the right things. Kids, learn from my experience. That's what I'm here for.

What you should be doing is watching TV. Much more TV.

Forget what everybody says about TV ruining the lives of young people. It was not watching enough TV that ruined mine.

Believe me, I could be a rich man today if, as a kid, I had taken the time to watch "The Flintstones." As you may have heard, it is now a movie. Not just a movie -- it did $37.2 million at the box office over Memorial Day weekend. That's a record for any holiday weekend in which people also ate genetically altered tomatoes.

"The Flintstones" is, of course, a movie based on a cartoon TV show based on a real TV show. This is what we call sub-referencing. Which often, if not necessarily in this case, can lead to humor.

Still, I should have watched. Then I could have written the script of a hit movie.

I also didn't watch "Maverick," which was the weekend runner-up at the box office and now stars the original TV Maverick, James Garner, who does not play the movie Maverick. You explain it.

I didn't even watch "Bewitched," which seems like a prime candidate for a summer movie, maybe next year. I bet somebody's pitching it now. They can do this one as a cartoon or maybe a combo-job like Roger Rabbit. Elizabeth Montgomery drove every kid I knew crazy, and not just for her twitchy nose.

But no, I was way too cool for that.

Instead of watching dumb TV as a kid and ensuring my future, I spent a lot of time up in my room listening to rock and roll music -- the devil's music, as it was known then.

Bad, bad mistake. And not just because you had to listen on non-stereo transistor radios with a single earpiece that would not stay in your actual ear unless you taped it to the side of your head.

The thing is, the bands of my youth are out there touring today. I could have missed the first 30 years of the Rolling Stones (how long can time be on their side?) and still have caught them this summer on their latest tour, sponsored by the Hair Club for Men.

Believe me, kids, there'll be Lollapalooza reunion tours long after you've lost most of your hair and look exactly like your dad does today. Sorry.

Forget music. Forget MTV, unless it's Beavis and Butt-head. I want you to think Fox network.

In my childhood years, when I could have been watching TV, I also spent a lot of time reading. I was an excellent reader. I read all the classics, especially Mad magazine and the one issue of Playboy that I had managed to sneak into the house and hide in the back part of the drawer where I kept my baseball cards.

You know you've reached a defining point in your life when Miss July becomes more important to you than Minnie Minoso.

Now I know you're not reading. In fact, books, magazines and even newspapers as we know them will all soon become obsolete. Everything will be on CD-ROM, which I'm told is the merging of computers and MTV. Which means that someday I may be able to bring this column to you each morning the way I always dreamed of doing it -- with backup singers.

Ignore your schoolwork. In today's job market, which for college graduates with advanced degrees runs the gamut from unemployment to working at the Gap, you can't get a decent job anyway.

In summation, study TV.

The stupider the TV the better. That's the lesson of "The Flintstones." What it means today is that you can't watch enough of the Bundys. Tape the shows and keep them for reference.

Watch "Family Matters." Sure, you may feel like a nerd. But someday it could pay off with a McDonald's Urkel-meal tie-in.

What I'm saying is, I hope you were paying attention during "Major Dad."

Of course, not all of these shows will make successful movies. "Beverly Hillbillies" didn't. My advice: A show with a catchy tune, like "The Addams Family," helps. It also helps if the characters in your show are eventually turned into kids' vitamins.

I won't be seeing "The Flintstones" myself. It's too late for me. But don't let what happened to me happen to you. You don't even have the same excuse I did. You've got remote control.

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