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YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP: TV viewers in Germany will be able to ponder their mortality day and night if the country’s Association of Funeral Directors gets their way; a 24 hour satellite and internet network devoted to funeral planning, services, eulogies, obituaries and everything else concerning death.
Did I mention that this is happening in Germany? The channel begins broadcasting in November – such an appropriate, funereal month – and is aimed at German seniors, a demographic that’s growing more quickly than young people in a country that, like many European nations, is suffering from a low birth rate that is producing more retirees than young people. It will be funded by obituaries that families of the deceased can commission or produce, and by partnerships the station hopes to make with nursing homes and companies that produce goods and services for the elderly.
“We don't want to proselytize," said Kerstin Gernig, a spokesperson for the Association of Funeral Directors, who stressed that the station’s programming will be “serious and respectful” in an interview with Deutsche Welle. "We want to provide information so people know everything that is involved.”
OK, once you stop laughing – I did mention this was Germany – it’s hard to argue that this doesn’t make at least four kinds of sense; a huge demographic lump in the population is slipping over the line into senior status as you read this, and let’s not deny that this is going to have a huge effect on government policy as well as culture. For good or ill, everything the Baby Boomers has done has had a measurable effect on the world they’ve passed through – be prepared for more sexy seniors on sitcoms and dramas in the near future, and the migration of insurance and incontinence ads into primetime from late night and specialty cable, an invasion begun by the advance guard of erectile dysfunction commercials a few years ago.
It’s hard to tell if the station’s owners are counting on attracting viewers from outside their target group – it’s hard to imagine that an all-day, all-night station devoted to death pull a Teletubbies and incidentally attract an avid audience of depressives, Goths, emo kids and other morbid obsessives with one mental foot in the grave, a vast but diffused audience of Dieters out there, hurting since Six Feet Under and Dead Like Me were cancelled.
MORE NEWS ABOUT OLD PEOPLE: Production on the next season of Everybody Hates Chris is apparently working overtime, according to an Associated Press story, as the show tries to get as many episodes in the can before puberty swamps star Tyler James Williams, who plays a young version of creator Chris Rock on the show, based on his awkward years in the ‘80s. “We knew if we kept feeding them, they would keep growing and the hormonal changes would kick in," noted series co-creator Ali LeRoi. Of course, if the show stays in production long enough, Rock himself could save the show some money, shave his goatee step into Williams’ role, outfitted suitably in a fade , Adidas shelltoes with fat laces and an Oakland Raiders Starter jacket.