New Bizarro Author Series Review #30: The Church of TV as God by Daniel Vlasaty
by J.W. Wargo
HOOOOLLLLLLYYYYYY EMERGENCY BROADCASTING SYSTEM!!!! Everyone knows TV addicts are out there, but fucking television cultists praying in a house of screens? And now their zealous boobtube leader thinks he’s found their savior. Oh, great are the cable channel deity motherfuckers!
This cathode-ray of sunshine doesn’t know why his head is turning into a TV, he just knows it runs in the family. Working the night shift as security at his local cemetery probably helps keep the looky-loos to a minimum. His graveyard is pretty progressive, even has a plot specifically for appliances. Sometimes he wonders which section he’ll be buried in.
His stray dog roommate could give a shit, so long as the bologna keeps flowing and he doesn’t hear the dreaded “O” word coming from the dude’s mouth, that racist prick!
It’s only a matter of time before this bastard primetime preacher tracks this TV messiah down and forces him to help bring about the second coming of the Great TV in the Sky. Static be praised!
Jeremy is not a willing participant in this Second Coming, I would say. Though on some level he probably sees a rational side to the Church’s prophecy, I mean he is inexplicably turning into an bonafide, wood paneled, knob turning, old school styled television set, he still rejects the actions taken by the Church and their leader to make the prophecy a reality.
I will say, as well, that as far as Cult leaders go, the man in white is on the saner side of things. He claims direct contact and communication from the Great TV, and Jeremy’s existence appears to corroborate this, enough for his congregation to believe him without question.
I would think the only possible exception to being totally committed to the Great TV’s will could be Randall, though this is due to his dim-wittedness rather than any doubt, self or otherwise. He is the older brother of the man in white and someone I thought was underused in this story. I say this because there were moments when his role could have been better characterized, but he was left more or less one dimensional in his part.
A much more fully developed character, and my favorite one in this book, was that of Benjamin, the stray dog nearly run over by Jeremy who becomes his friend and new roommate. Benjamin is a talking dog, and his profanity spewing mouth is put to great use throughout the story, bringing humorous elements to even the most disturbing of scenes.
To my mind, the title of Mr. Vlasaty’s debut book is one of the more intriguing phrases I have heard in some time. A simple premise, God is Television, and this is the Church of that ideal. And you can be assured there is no lack of televisions in this story. The church itself is made of TVs, the walls made up in stacks of light boxes, the altar a giant flatscreen, and the chairs each church member sits upon glow bright with a multitude of moving images.
And while the imagery is as expected, the result of such an idea is probably the strongest point of the book. Religion can be an addiction, and faith can be placed on most anything. When you think of the masses huddled around their screens every Sunday for the big game, is it really that hard to imagine a religious faith building up around it?
In fact, no matter how bizarre the actions of the congregation become in trying to bring about the physical realization of their God, it never becomes discreditably ludicrous. One may even grow a rational fear in pondering this, and the author may start to look more like a prophet than a fiction storyteller.
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J.W. Wargo is a writer and author of his own NBAS book, Avoiding Mortimer, which deals with the difficult subjects of suicide, the afterlife, and proper mixtape gifting etiquette. You can also read about the crazy shit he gets into while hitchhiking the world over at Imperial Youth Review.