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Smokey: What do you think they do for entertainment in this town?
Our parents and grandparents did not have as much entertainment media available as we do When They Were Our Age. Fine. So they had to do other things instead. Okay. But often fiction will use this as a source of humor with the activities engaged in by previous generations verging on the utterly moronic.
From the sarcastic expression "as exciting (interesting, fun, etc.) as watching paint dry".
- Played for laughs in one of the Kevin Butler PS3 ads, this one for the Blu-ray player feature.
Kevin Butler: You know what [your grandma] did for fun when she was young? She pushed a hoop with a stick.
- An old Taco Bell ad featuring Rocky and Bullwinkle had the citizens of Frostbite Falls so bored by traditional fast food (namely, Boris and Natasha's "McBoris Burgers") that they were willing to pay to watch grass grow. Then it turns out they weren't even watching real grass.
Bullwinkle: Hey, this is AstroTurf!
- In Disney's The Little Mermaid, Scuttle the seagull tells Ariel that before they discovered music, ancient humans "used to sit around and stare at each other all day."
- And let us not forget the absolutely epic Paint Drying, a very real British film from 2016.
- In Discworld, Granny and Nanny comment on how there is too much "making your own entertainment" these days, they never had time for it when they where young.
- Nanny certainly did make her own entertainment, though. With the help of many handsome young men.
- Saturday Night Live Weekend Update segments in the early 1990's would occasionally feature Dana Carvey as "A Grumpy Old Man" who would make comparisons between modern day and "his day" similarly to the "Weird Al" Yankovic example above, always concluding his remarks with, "...and that's the way it was, and we liked it!"
- In Jim Henson's Dinosaurs, there is a TV channel about grass growing.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: "*sigh*... Y'know, guys: this whole time, we could have been watching an apple brown."
- The "Weird Al" Yankovic song "When I Was Your Age" has lyrics about not having Nintendo games as a kid and having to pour salt on snails as entertainment.
- In Garfield, Jon's rural brother loves watching his clothes spinning inside the washing machine.
- Garfield also finds the idea of cow tipping moronic.
- Jon's family is also excited seeing a white mouse. Garfield remarks: "These people need a TV."
- The Far Side had a pre-television family sitting on and around a couch, all staring at a blank wall.
- In a Zits comic strip, Walt talks about leaving Woodstock because it was raining and going to paint his grandmother's kitchen (which he seems to have preferred).
- In The Decline of Videogaming, the gamers relate something about the villains' games being less fun than "watching paint dry," complete with cheering ("C'moonnnn, blue!"); watching grass grow (one watcher cheats with fertilizer); watching ice melt (with the help of flamethrowers), and the greatest insult of all-- watching Tom burn.
- They play with this in Yu Gi Oh The Abridged Movie Where it is stated that Thousands of years ago people were very bored because card games hadn't been invented yet, so in order to pass the time they started killing each other with magical powers
- The Simpsons likes this.
- When Bart falls down the well there is, to quote Jasper:
"A Good Old Fashioned Hole Digging, my gods it's been a while."
- One of the most exciting pastimes in Grandpa's retirement home is sitting at the window of the rec room watching a tree. This is one of many gags about how bleak and depressing retirement homes are and how there is basically nothing to look forward to.
- An episode from the Viva Pinata cartoon was about visiting a character's old uncle at a retirement home. One of the gags used was that paint drying was actually an exciting pastime for the residents (along with the Grass channel, which featured grass growing in real time).
- In an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter is sent to live with an Amish family whose main recreation is churning. Dee Dee, his dippy older sister, quite prefers the recreational value of using a butter churn to other, more boring pursuits (like Space Camp).
- Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi features Paint Drying as a spectator sport, albeit one that is extremely boring. Kaz seems to enjoy it though. In "Chow Down" he is still amazed how the underdog "Orange" won the title, while in "Disco Capers" the following season, he berates Ami and Yumi for doing nothing other than literally watching paint dry and in a slight subversion recounts the fun of a Seventies disco with a convenient time machine.
- Literal example: both Quack Pack and Garfield and Friends had the main characters channel surfing, and one of the TV shows is about watching paint dry.
- Billy, of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, drives the Goddess of Chaos crazy by watching paint dry. In his underwear. He shushes her when she talks, as he can't hear the paint drying.
- On Garfield and Friends, Garfield compares visiting Jon's cousin to watching paint dry. Sure enough, Jon's cousin makes Jon watch boring slides mostly of his wife waving while on vacation.
- In the U.K. Dennis the Menace cartoon, Dennis' granny jokes that before TV was invented, they all sat around waiting for TV to be invented. Her actual youth activities however (reading, hunting dodos and listening to the wireless) are little better, as far as the main character is concerned.
- Phineas and Ferb: Candace described reading as something people did before they invented fun.
- A History Channel episode of Modern Marvels was about paint. One man who tests paints for a paint company is required by his job to watch paint dry. He finds it interesting.