Evil, Evil TV

TVSome basic assumptions:

  • TV is a waste of time.
  • TV does not foster thought and creates mind-numbed zombies. TV watching is passive.
  • TV fosters violent, anti-social behavior.

Okay, that’s out there. Everyone agrees with this, right? I mean, because who is going to argue that something so awful might be getting a bad rap?

That would be me.

Sure, TV can be a waste of time, it can be mindless, and it can encourage violence in individuals who have trouble differentiating fantasy from reality. I admit that all of these points can be true at times, but not always.

Let’s take these one at a time.

  • TV is a waste of time. Yes, it can be, but what is TV? It’s stories. And stories have always been the basis for transmitting history and culture. Cavemen sat around fires and told about the time Great Uncle Grog lost half his hair in a battle with a Wooly Mammoth, and that’s why men of our tribe wear our hair short now. There are lots of ways to transmit stories that are important in our culture–books, internet, TV. It’s all about stories.
  • TV can be mindless. No doubt. But it depends on how you watch it. I love to deconstruct characters I find interesting or try to figure out how actors make me like an anti-hero or how writers were able to surprise me with a plot twist. Most of the time, I’m not vegging; I’m learning. This is not to say there’s not a place for the escapism that TV offers; there is. But it’s not always an escape and it shouldn’t become a place to hide from the world. And as far as it’s being passive and brain-rotting, again, it depends on how you watch it. Do you discuss it with your family afterward or with your friends the next day at work? Probably. This passive, mind-rotting activity can be a story that binds and creates interesting opportunities for discussion.
  • Yes, people who already have trouble separating fantasy and reality may feel confused or validated by violence portrayed on TV (or in books or the internet or by their idiot buddy down the street). But most people have no trouble understanding what is real and what is fantasy, and they do not become robots acting out what they see on TV or read.

I’m not going to say that TV time should be unlimited or that everything on TV has value. I just get tired of being told that TV is bad, bad, evil, evil when I see it as another form of story-telling, something I dearly love.

6 thoughts on “Evil, Evil TV

  1. I thought all networks had been invaded by staged reality shows and I vowed to watch nothing but TMC… but I’m not a great fan of singing cowboys and bible epics so decided to try channel surfing one more time…HELLO CASTLE! This series goes great with a glass of chardonnay when the day is finally done …and of course I have my pad and pen for taking notes!

  2. I’m pretty sure we’ve talked about the TV as story aspect before, maybe on a post Jess wrote? And I only like TV shows with smart characters and plot lines, so I deny the TV is brainless idea too.

    This is the same kind of argument I see from parents who want their kid to put down the graphic novel and pick up a “real book.” Um. That is a real book. And it’s really a bonus that there’s a visual element, because it engages more of his brain! The same can be said of television, engaging both the language and visual centers of our brain.

    Long live the idiot box!

    1. Exactly! TV stimulates lots of parts of the brain. You’ve got visuals, words, and sound. Soundtracks really make a difference.

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