Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Demon Television - A Note to the Bigots

Anti-television fanatics are poopy-heads.

Yeah, you heard me right, they’re poopy-heads. Not only that, they’re doo-doo brains. (And you can quote me on that.)

For some 3 dozen years there has been a secret, yet consistent war on television and I think it’s time to bring the fight out in the open. To reveal the secret agenda of the bookish-right who seek to keep us from our precious, desperate housewives; the exuberant joy and gut-wrenching despair of our American idols. The bibliophiliacs who seek to replace our perky Katy Couric with the dull headlines of a New York Times.

Their argument goes something like this: Books contain understanding, dispensed from the nimble wise minds of The Greats, lovingly placed between two hard covers (paperbacks are for ninnies) for our enlightenment.

After all, where would society be without Steinbeck’s angry grapes, Hemingway’s desperate attempts to prove his manhood, Mailer’s singing death dealer?

But that’s the problem: TV hating book lovers are bigots. Bigots of the lowest order. Just like a white man who judges all blacks by the actions of a few despicable criminals, so these book bigots assume television is just a variation on The O.C.

Of course, that’s not the case. In one evening we have a choice of watching hundreds of television programs. Some are bland, mindless banter. Some are the basest form of humor and licentiousness. Many are thoughtful, entertaining and informative.

We are all drawn to what appeals to us—some read “Gone with The Wind” because they lack the social skills to have real relationships. They live vicariously through Scarlett and her affairs. Others watch “Ancient Mysteries” on the Discovery channel to learn the intricacies of Etruscan architecture.

The message, not the medium, determines the value.

I have a friend who has a “designated reading time” with his family every evening. From 7pm until 9pm each evening he gathers with his teenagers and their books in the living room and silently reads. He calls this “family time.”

Yet, surprisingly, his children still seem distant and unresponsive to him. How can that be? He has HOURS of family time each week, right?

Contrast that with my own experience…
Three or four evenings a week, my wife, teenage son and I watch television together. We are far from quiet. We laugh. We discuss what we are watching. We mute the television on the commercials and share about our day. Sometimes we watch The Simpsons, sometimes we watch the Discovery Channel, sometimes we watch American Idol.

But here’s the thing…WE watch. WE talk. WE share. WE get to know one another better.

I’m confident that if Gutenberg had printed a Harlequin rather than a Bible, and if the first television programs had been “Travels with St. Paul,” these same knee-jerk bigots would probably be decrying the book as the depository for the basest of humanity.

One more thing…

Most of these people have televisions. They watch television—probably some every day. Why would they think the majority of television is mindless drivel? Unless, that is, the only thing that appeals to them is the mindless stuff.

Maybe that’s the reality they fear most of all. Poopy-heads.