Animal Planet

If you’re looking for evidence of cultural decline, I kindly direct you away from Howard Stern and Janet Jackson’s horrible, horrible titty and towards The Pet Psychic.  The Pet Psychic is a show about a psychic who communicates with pets and is ostensibly a nonfiction program. People from around the country come to the pet psychic to learn what their pets are thinking while looking away from the Pet Psychic and yawning. For reals. While this program is clearly obscene, being a libertarian sort, I don’t think the solution is FCC regulation so much as gas chambers.

As much as I want to think that the show represents a decline, however, I have to ask: is this anything new? It ties in with a conversation I recently had with my old high school friend, Jesse Cahill. I became reacquainted with Jesse after he wrote in to complain that I mentioned being friends with Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson on the site, but never mentioned Jesse by name. Anyway, Jesse Cahill and I were discussing the Bush administration, the fact that California has been run into the ground by the nauseating alternative to Bush, the Democrats, and just how deeply fucked up America is in general. Jesse raised a possibility that I have often considered myself. “Maybe it’s always been this bad and I just never noticed.”

I think it might be true. The The Pet Psychic isn’t a sign of the apocalypse, it’s who we are and always will be. Millions of Americans have always believed in witches, demons and angels. Take The Passion of the Christ. The whole point of the film is to emphasize what might be the stupidest thing about Christianity. Jesus supposedly suffered oh so badly and died for our sins, but didn’t really. 1) JC didn’t suffer nearly as much as a typical cancer patient of holocaust victim or maybe a billion or so other people. 2) Death was meaningless to JC because, unlike all of us, he died with concrete knowledge of a wonderful afterlife. I’d rather be crucified with that knowledge than die in a plane crash without it. So… 3) What sacrifice? Of course Christians love this film, which might as well be two hours of Mel Gibson saying “I’m going to tell a stupid lie, then tell you it’s true and we’ll all believe it. Peanut butter comes from the moon. That is so true. Here’s another one…” But Christians hate The Last Temptation of Christ which is an intelligent attempt to make sense of the crucifixion. They prefer irrationality and nonsense.


So I’m divided on The Pet Psychic. On the one hand, people believe in the The Pet Psychic to the extent that she can have a show, even though she’s a transparent charlatan. She solves a mystery for one couple when she tells them that their dog was shot by teenagers, one of whom had some kind of unusual hair. Shockingly, the couple not only knows of a teenager, but he even has some kind of unusual hair! And this particular teenager, with unusual hair, is someone they believe to be a trouble maker! Gasp! That’s even worse than the non-pet psycic, John Edward, saying that a loved one passed due to some kind of trauma to the head or torso. Even more bizarre than their unlimited credulity is the fact that most loonie “animal lovers” would think nothing of eating a veal cutlet as they hear about the complex inner life of their German Shepard. It really makes me want to kill. So this is a show that unashamedly parades the most shameful aspects of America’s psyche. The superstitious, willful irrationalism and ignorance that holds all of humanity back is celebrated on this show in the most ridiculous way possible. Yes, it’s even worse than a tit.

On the other hand, it seems clear that most humans are wired to believe in nonsense and the Pet Psychic is a pretty benign outlet for that wiring. At least people who believe in pet psychics don’t conduct inquisitions–not yet anyway. And even if there were pet psychic inquisitions, at least they would be funny.

“You are charged with doubting the Pet Psychic’s ability to convey the emotional longings of a turtle! Repent or perish!”

“OK, OK, I believe in the Pet Psychic. Can I go now?”

So maybe it is best to encourage belief in pet psychics if it discourages belief in Jesus. And while The Pet Psychic can be enjoyed in the same detached fashion as Christian programming, it isn’t nearly as disconcerting. Of course, that isn’t to say we can’t gas them all.