Outlaw Chronicles Is Sad Excuse for Entertainment

Outlaw Chronicles: Hells AngelsWhen I was a kid, there was a lot of crap on television. But at least it was very clearly entertainment. Effort was put in by writers and actors. Stories with actual plots were told. Now, of course, we live in the age of the reality show. And it has poisoned all of entertainment. In the 1950s, there were prime time game shows. But that went away for decades as people came to expect more. And then came these new game shows called “reality shows,” and now much of what is on at night is game shows — albeit, often game shows with “stars.”

The biggest thing about this trend is that producers have found that there really is no need to tell a compelling story. With proper editing and incidental music, they can make nothing appear to be something. I saw a great example of this last night. It wasn’t a reality show, but a documentary series on The History Channel, Outlaw Chronicles: Hells Angels. I guess it is mostly just interviews with this guy, George Christie Jr, who used to be in the Hells Angels. I really don’t know, nor do I care. As with most things on History, I assume it is all fake anyway. As such, you would think it would be more interesting.

The narrator explained that the Hells Angels were in a battle with some other gang, and so they were planting bombs. As far as I can tell, we’re talking pipe bombs here — dangerous, but not that dangerous, and hardly exotic. Christie and a companion were sent in to pick up a bomb that didn’t detonate — a dud. They were lowering it off a rooftop, but a wind came up and the bomb started hitting against the side of the building.

It was a very tense situation. Did the bomb explode?! No. The wind died down and they got it to the ground safely. This may have had something to do with the fact that the bomb was not functional. But this exciting story is not over — not by a long shot! They put the bomb in the car. But they didn’t do the sensible thing and put it in the trunk. Why, oh why, would they be so foolish?! Could it be that they weren’t actually worried at all and that Christie is just making a big deal out of it now for the home viewer?

Anyway, they put the bomb in the back seat. So they were driving to the disposal site. But apparently, the road they were driving on was not perfect. They hit a pothole, which shook the car. And the bomb… did not go off. But then Christie and his companion started to laugh. They must have laughed for ten minutes. According to him, it was because of the tension. I’m figuring it was because they were both wasted from all the speed and alcohol they were on.

But what’s most amazing is what happened next: nothing. That was the end of the story. Here’s a quick recap of the story: these two guys dispose of an nonfunctional bomb and nothing went wrong. It’s kind of like someone telling you the story, “I was thinking of flying from New Jersey to San Francisco on 9/11 — I could have been on Flight 93!” You could have been. But you weren’t. I would certainly accept such nonsense in a private conversation, but how is that kind of thing considered good television?

I don’t think that the problem is George Christie who is a good raconteur and doubtless has been through some interesting things. But the producers have to fill up time. Soon they will have him down to relating traffic accidents he saw while driving down the freeway. It’s all about cost. And the sad thing is that our civilization can’t see that there is nothing interesting on display. It is “true” and therefore not boring.

14 thoughts on “Outlaw Chronicles Is Sad Excuse for Entertainment

  1. Thank you! Your piece is the perfect riposte to the incredulity I received when I said that I do not watch T.V.. I will forward it to 6 people who deserve to see that, at least one intelligent person (You Mister Moraes), agrees with me that television is a wasteland, unworthy of our precious time.

    During a visit to relatives, I was asked what my favourite T.V. programS are. I said that I didn’t have any. A few of them seemed to get impatient and snapped at me to pick one of them. When I said that I don’t have even one favourite, because I do not watch T.V. and haven’t for about 10 years, they all fell silent. Some of them had literally dropped their jaws.

    Our conversation immediately became stilted and hugely uncomfortable. I think I was labeled as a cultural snob and so, no longer part of the family. Hmmm, does that even have the makings of a 10 part reality show?

    Thanks again for your common sense and gutsiness in writing this article.

    Richard P.

    • Perhaps you will find yourself on an “intervention” reality show where everyone tells you how much your lack of television watching has hurt them.

      I don’t actually have a problem with television — although I don’t have one. There is some great stuff on it. In particular, I’m a huge fan of Bob’s Burgers (which I watch on Hulu). But the cheapness of producing reality shows really has harmed television in a big way.

    • Richard — Just don’t send the article to the relatives you were arguing with, they’ll get even madder! Next time it comes up, try that time-honored tactic for dealing with narrow-minded relatives; change the subject to something you can talk to them about without barfing. Granted, this can be difficult . . .

  2. And this is why I stick to My Little Pony or other cartoons. They are supposed to be silly and bad. Except for Gravity Falls, that was actually really clever.

    • I don’t actually know any of that, but I think SpongeBob SquarePants is surprisingly good! It’s also the case that about the only decent features that come out of Hollywood are animated. Of course, there is a huge amount of great independent stuff being created. But I’m getting sidetracked now…

      • You might like “Gravity Falls.” It’s sort of quasi-spiritual. A bored young lady working in a Niagara Falls gift shop starts getting cryptic messages from tourist trinkets telling her to do things. The instructions inevitably, although confusingly at first, end up helping others. There’s one clunker “yay, we’re Generation Z” episode I remember but I liked the rest.

        Essentially the messages seem to be coming from some Force For Good but it sure as hell isn’t denominational. However it works in that same scrambled-transmission way every religion’s supposed revelations always get conveyed.

        • Sounds nice. But I would prefer the Force That Doesn’t Give a Damn — much more realistic! But I’ll check it out. I like the art work.

        • Are you sure we are talking about the same Gravity Falls? The one I was talking about was about two fraternal twins-Dipper and Mable and their Uncle Stan’s Mystery Shack. Oh and Waddles the pig. Cannot forget about the pig.

  3. If you think the series was a complete waste of humongous consumption of dull television, just wait for his book; “Exile on Front Street; my life as a Hells Angel and Beyond”. Yes sir, 265-386 pages of nail biting, edge of your seat reading by a “ghost writer” and in pre-sales now for $26.00. Due out in September 2016. Come one come all for the greatest show of all time, with the barker not really barking.

    • Well, like I said: he may have some real stories that are interesting. Of course, I’ve met dozens of guys in bars in northern California who claim to have been in the Hell’s Angels and they’ve told me all kinds of stories — some quite interesting. I don’t know if they were true or if what this guy says is true. But what does it matter? I assume the show is popular. The book probably will sell well. It always makes me think though, “Why can’t I get those ghostwriting gigs?” I’ve had ghostwriting gigs, but they are boring nonfiction stuff — mostly fixing badly overdue crap. I’d like to be brought in on the ground floor. The money’s got to be better!

      • And what I find most appalling about this form of nonfiction writing, for a “persona non grata”, is that the subject may have “interesting stories” to tell. Yet in order to fully inculcate the full impact of “stories” to the reader, it must be enhanced by a total stranger to that lifestyle.
        How can the subject say: “that I have first hand knowledge of a crime or crimes;” grotesque to all who would never think of such things. It takes a ghost writer to define it? Does it not then become fiction? As a ghost writer for a Christie, you would almost become complicit because he is telling you things he did in a third person narrative. Did he really grab the gun from the guy who was hired to collect from him? That man ended up dead, a few months later. Public knowledge, but Christie telling the story, leaves you guessing. Hmmm did he or didn’t he? The man accused of that murder was recently released, coincidentally, after this series aired on “the collector”. DNA proved the man innocent, after 35 years in prison. Now that is a story. Know why he was freed? The DNA found at the murder site was not his. Wonder why they are not going after that person’s DNA? Think about it. But no one will hear that or the many others that Christie tells as truths. He is now immune from prosecution after a 35 year war on him by Law Enforcement. How does that happen?
        I digress. Today people are easily amused by the most mundane to the most horrific. Television has numbed most to the face of horror. Kurtz was right, the heart of darkness is staring at us, but not from some boat in the congo, but in a 1080p HD flat screen in a series like this. It’s half truths mixed with interjected lies, and it shows in the narrative of this series. Jumping back and forth, leaving the viewer in limbo. The book, who knows what a literary mumbo jumbo that will be. Thus the ghost writer to save it from it’s own collapse. I’m no writer but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

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