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Marshall Fine Headshot

Please don't pet the Osbournes

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One of my mentors - the late, great Ernie Schier - used to say, "There's no percentage in patting idiots on the head."

His lesson came in a seminar on theater criticism and was directed at the notion that amateur productions deserved a little slack when it came to reviews. His point was that, if you're charging money, you're fair game. Forget good intentions - the road to hell and all that.

Yet the TV airwaves are awash in the kind of idiocy that can only dim our children's IQs and numb the rest of us to what's really going on in the world.

It's not that I don't like to be entertained. It's just that, well, there's no percentage in patting idiots on the head.

So let's just come out and say it:

Should it scare us that we've made hits of shows like Dancing with the Stars and American Idol, with their successful attempts at defining talent downward?

Should we be frightened that Bret Michaels Rock of Love continues to spread its cold sores, long after Poison, a band that was a copy of a carbon of a Xerox, disintegrated?

Should we be alarmed that Survivor - the ongoing battle of the dirtballs - continues to be a ratings success?

Should the penalty for being fired on Celebrity Apprentice be death - so that these desperate has-beens no longer pollute our airwaves - or dilute the notion of who or what a celebrity is? (I know - too late on that one, but still...)

Should we bring back the ages-old notion of "shaming" - and apply it to anyone who got caught as part of the mob scene outside the cattle call for America's Next Top Model? Or to anyone who watches the show? Or to Tyra Banks?

All of these are cause for alarm. Now here's the latest true sign of the cultural apocalypse:

Osbournes: Reloaded.

It's a title that hints, among other things, that Ozzy and family ought to be considering rehab, rather than doing a TV show.

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