Thursday, April 4, 2013

Television Is Actually Kinda Awesome

Throughout my lifetime and beyond television (or TV) has been cast in a negative light. It has been hatefully referred to for generations as the boob tube and the idiot box. During times of war or political differing the television has been maligned as a propaganda spewing device responsible for making people fat, uninformed, irresponsible lemmings. Further, TV has also been charged with desensitizing us to the point where we no longer have feelings which in turn leads individuals among us to go on killing sprees. What the critics and  pretentious pot stirrers commonly fail to comment on is the reason why television has such a profound effect on our lives, that being that it is actually kinda awesome.

Based on technical merit alone television ranks among the best inventions ever created by humans. There is no denying that TV paved the way for computers and by association the internet.  Some may postulate that technology has had more negative effects on the way we live our lives or that humans were not intended to dwell indoors and be hooked up to machines and blah-dee-blah-dee-blah.  My blanket response to this and all other heinous arguments of the ilk are this: Earth although we like to think of it as a constant is a finite resource. Until a Shaman on a hilltop chants an ancient incantation and releases us from our corporeal form we have to protect these bodies and the bodies of our descendants.  To do that we must develop and refine new information in the name of progress, in order to survive. On a long enough timeline the minor grievances/hidden side effects of a technology will be neutralized in face of the greater good that they create. Television gave us the ability to transmit audio/visual information all over the world almost instantly, that is an AMAZING thing.

Although we like to think of television as an independent force that preys on us, it is actually nothing more than a mirror reflecting our interests. The problem is that most of us are ashamed of who we are as individuals and in order to misdirect ourselves from this shame we retreat to judging to mask the true desires of our Id.  What I mean by this is that most of us are fake, stupid, assholes.  We don't want to admit how petty and shallow our actual level of interest in most things is. We go so far as to create a fake group of people who we imagine watch the Jersey Shore and mock them with disgust. We will say: "Can you believe the people who watch this shit? Look at Pauly D and Vinny and the Sitch, can you believe these assclowns are getting paid to do blow and rub up on skanks all summer long?" We will imagine scores of deadbeat teenagers glued to their televisions sets idolizing these morons and grow more disgusted and fearful of the future of humanity, but the truth of the matter is that Snooki is not watching. We, "the educated" normal life 9-5ers are watching with both hands over our eyes peering through the cracks in our fingers, hanging on every mispronounced word and every incorrect historical reference uttered. 

While we often emphasize the truly horrible side of television we rarely if ever talk about how it equally reflects the best of us. For every crazy gun toting killer that television produces it calms and soothes 10 000, maybe more.  The world can be a cold, misunderstanding and unloving place and while we should be good and caring and loving towards others, most of us just aren't. Some of us may not have access to family/friends who are capable of adequately nurturing us or engaging our minds. Television at its best combines what makes humanity great aurally, visually and artistically.  Because of this sometimes televised moments are superior to real life, healing us, making us feel more connected and gain new perspective on how to live. In a scripted world everything has a meaning, a moral message and a succinct ending.  In a scripted world we get to live through the moments that we missed or flubbed in our own lives, to get them right, to finally be heard. 


  1. I also love TV. But not in a weird way. It was a beautiful thing. I don't care what that bitch TV says now, IT WAS TOTALLY CONSENSUAL!

  2. This was well thought-out and balanced. I like this:

    The problem is that most of us are ashamed of who we are as individuals and in order to misdirect ourselves from this shame we retreat to judging to mask the true desires of our Id.

    and I kinda agree.

    TV isn't the problem anyway, it's some of the programming. Some of it is wilfully manipulative, bigoted, misogynistic and lowest-common-denominator. Like any tool, I guess it's only as good as the people who use it.

  3. Another great post. I especially liked the reference to UHF and the echoes of the famed Cataluna "fake, stupid, assholes" argument. Kudos!

  4. Nice! A thought provoking, intelligent post :-) And I fully agree - to deny TV its place in the history of our technological evolution purely because you don't like or appreciate it is like ignoring your mum after she has spent years nurturing you into adulthood just because you didn't like going to bed when told to or being force fed sprouts at Christmas ;-) Besides, the ability to send an image thousands of miles and have it reproduced exactly - why would you want to downgrade such an achievement?