Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Response to Mary

First, read this post on Mary's blog.

First off, I love it. I totally respect what you're doing. My favorite line is "I know Lukey, it's terrible." The word you used was perfect: addiction. America is addicted to TV. We don't need and can live without it. It's a great idea to give TV a rest every once in a while.

But, as you probably know, it's a losing battle. TV is too powerful. If it's not on in your home, your kids will get influenced by their friends on what toys they should want and which characters belong on their lunch box. It's not their fault, it's not yours. As a capitalist society, we saw $$ and went with it. America very willingly gave over control of the most powerful medium the world has ever known to corporate interests that want to tell you what to wear/eat/drive/watch/hear/be.

This in many ways made America the greatest nation on Earth. We grew, we innovated, we prospered. We showed the world what progress meant. it culminated (in my opinion) with the Moon landing, where we as a nation truly achieved something grand. Ever since then, it's been about consumerism. We lost something that hasn't come back.

I just read Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death. He's the man who started the media program I'm enrolled in NYU. His thesis is that TV's sole purpose, it's only purpose by design, is for entertainment. You only watch it for enjoyment. You may read for pleasure, but it is (in our culture) the primary medium for learning, rational discourse, and exposition (considering all sides and truly understanding an issue).

Look at the Lincoln Douglas debates. They were 2 hours long and communicated solely via newspaper. The issues were discussed in depth and at length, and the nation was hooked. Today, TV is the primary medium for information. Issues are communicated in 30 second sound bites, reflections of commercials, the most populous form in the airwaves today. (He goes more in depth about the world before TV and how the Age of Reason fit perfectly with the development of the printing press. But that's another blog.)

Issues aren't discussed in depth. When they are, it's boring, usually on PBS or CSPAN. The evening news is bits of information from around the world thrown together for the sole purpose of entertainment. Maybe the weather means something to you, and sports is interesting. But hearing about events gives a sense of knowing what's going on without any understanding of why. Can anyone explain the Darfur genocide to me in detail? If yes, you probably didn't learn about it on TV.

The current election is a clear example. The press loved Obama's "rock concert" rally's, while McCain seemed like an AARP convention. Obama got people excited, while Hillary looked like a school marm. I'm all for Barack, but connecting rock concerts and politics does not sit well with me. I want politics substantive and boring, which tells me that all aspects are considered. Big, sweeping statements mean nothing; the details are everything. (I know Brian & Nilda loves them some Olberman and Hardball. I am not in that camp. Please, not comments about how awesome Obama is. We know)

My point is, TV is everywhere and isn't going anywhere. Nor should it. We've built our culture around it. Everyone talks about the Internet and TV merging, not having the on-line world take over (at least not yet). Trying to keep away from it is futile. But teaching moderation and making people understand the power of the medium itself, not just the program, is the answer. We need to break TV's spell by questioning its power.

Mary, what your doing is rad. Force them to live without TV for a little. But teach them to make TV a part of a balanced media diet. Get info from newspapers and other sources. I just don't think our family is ready for that sacrifice. Not while Tori & Dean is on.


your SIL said...

shout out! woohoo!

do Tori's boobs still look like 2 tubes coming off her chest?

TheMediaDude said...

Yes. And they are spectacular.

your sil said...

I bet Denise' are better though... =)

Boywonderesq said...

Obama is awesome.