Can You Kick the TV Habit,
for One Week?
What do I have against TV? I personally find television
offensive. Not because it’s filled with sex and compromising moral
situations -- sex and compromising moral situations make life interesting.
I find television offensive because it’s totally disinteresting.
TV is filled with flagrant idiocy; insincerity; random trivia, and pointless
noise outbursts; not to mention a cavalcade of salesmen and other sorts
of people I would never choose to have over as company in my home. Every
time you turn on your television, you are inviting several thousand company
spokespeople in to your home – who are each paid a great deal more
than you will ever dream of making – for the sole purpose of telling
you what to do with your scant earnings. And they’re not even bashful
Imagine how terrifically shocked you’d be if, during
dinner, someone crashed a car into your living room, fired off several
rounds of ammunition from an automatic weapon, implied that you had offensive
body odor and proceeded to try and sell you life insurance, chewing gum,
a diamond engagement ring, and a new long distance calling plan for weekends
and evenings all within the span of three minutes. Repeat that scenario
for hours on end and you have replicated the environment most Americans
willfully create in their own homes on a daily basis simply by turning
on the television.
“But what about the News?” People ask me, “don’t
you like to know what’s going on in the world?” Yes I do.
That’s why I don’t watch television. The evening News is carefully
constructed upon a formula guaranteed to terrorize and trivialize every
aspect of modern life without offending or provoking. The days of investigative
journalism are gone. Today there are more car-crash reports than topical
events. Even when the nightly news approaches a topic that carries some
relevance, it does so with a classic bait and switch. The anchor pretends
to talk about something important but then, before there’s even
been enough time to open the topic, let alone expand upon it, the topic
is repackaged, closed and transitioned into something else. And that something
else is a commercial break, a sports victory, or most commonly, the weather.
The weather! -- The one topic that comes up most often between awkward
strangers. If you want to know the weather, open a window. If you can’t
give up the evening news, don’t fool yourself by saying “I
like to know what’s going on in the world.” Just come out
and admit that you have a bizarre, and life-consuming fetish for the weather.
That, and you’re unable to cope with life in the absence of rapidly
moving, brightly colored images.
There is a new term used by media critics: Prop-AGENDA.
It refers to the use of media to not only influence and sway opinion but
to actually set the agenda. Let’s use Janet Jackson’s breast
as an example. Since I don’t have TV, I didn’t see Janet Jackson’s
notorious nipple. I didn’t see one pundit comment about it, or one
smarmy comedian make lame jokes about it. Eventually I saw a photo of
the offending member when it ran in the Onion. I couldn’t believe
what the fuss was about. I’ve seen breasts. I’ve even seen
nipples. That photo contained neither a breast nor a nipple. The nipple
was made of metal. The breast was made of some sort of highly reflective,
engorged, plastic alloy. What was the big deal? There was no big deal.
But since TV said it was a big deal it became one. And suddenly missing
WMDs no longer held as much water. Prop-agenda.
Am I shooting at sitting ducks? Most people complain about commercials and the garbage on television. But they continue to watch (on average of six hours per day in America). This is classic addiction and pathology only nobody’s noticing because everybody has it. Think you’re immune to it? Turn off your television for one week. Then see how you feel. -- One full week. NO TV. Cold turkey. Not even a peak. If it’s not a big deal, and I’m just a raving, Luddite with an ax to grind, then you should be able to do it. No problem. Right? Try it. Turn it off, and move it out of the room. After that, you can tell me what a smug, reactionary I am or say “yeah, but what about The Sopranos.” And I’ll look forward to the conversation. In One week.