If you are a Baby Boomer like me when you were growing up and spending most of your time destroying the economic future of the country for our grandchildren…“Now you youngun’s play nice with that debt and don’t pull it’s tail ’cause it’ll liable to turn around and bite ya.”…you probably spent a good deal of your spare time watching television. I know I did. Way too much television. For me, television was my baby sitter, my brother and sister, my entertainment, and my teacher. Television was an addiction that took me a lifetime to overcome.
For you kiddies today who have it so good with your big screens and HD and surround sound, let me tell you we had to walk up hill 20 miles in the snow barefoot both ways just to catch a rerun of “I Love Lucy” and we’re damn grateful for it! Now where was I? Oh yeah, television. We started out with the old black and white snowy pictures. Graduated to color, then remote control. Rabbit ears gave way to cable which led to satellite. We went from reruns to VCR’s to DVD players to TiVo. Old televisions sat on tables, then became big consoles, then portable, and then flat screen. We started with 3 channels, then dozens, then hundreds. The technological advancements made in television have been astounding. There is only one minor problem:
Despite all the advancements in technology, the ability to beam programming in from space, the huge screens and multi speaker sound systems, television has failed miserably in every single way when it comes to content and programming. Think of it. You have a medium that reaches just about every home in the country. People come in, sit down, and watch your choices for programming. And what do you send out? American Idol. Dancing With the Stars. CSI: Bugtustle. Are you fucking kidding me? That’s it? That’s the best you can come up with? And you people out there watching this shit…you should be equally ashamed. I know I am.
When I was a kid every Saturday morning was spent sitting in front of the tv in my pajamas eating cereal and watching cartoons. Sunday nights was Disney night. The week a blur of comedies, variety shows, and western dramas. (By the way, for all you creationists out there, the Flintstones was an animated cartoon, not a National Geographic documentary. Kudos to comedian Louis Black for that one.). Later in life, when I bought my house one of the first things I added was a satellite dish. Hundreds of channels. Programming that wasn’t censored at a grade school level. But eventually I found, despite all those choices, there wasn’t a damn thing on.
That’s not to say tv didn’t have it’s good moments, fleeting though they were. I watched in rapt attention as the events of the Kennedy assassination played out. Sat with my father late at night In the living room and watch the grainy pictures of the moon landings. As late as 2001 watched in horror as the 9/11 attacks took place. But such moments were few and far between. The rest of television has been a cesspool of wasted opportunities.
Look at how television has affected our culture. We are taught that if we drink the right beer, use the correct hair products, and buy the fancy new car we are intelligent and cool. We are taught that the good guys always win out in the end and that no matter how complicated or horrible, all of life’s problems can be solved in 30 minutes…or to be continued next week, same bat time, same bat station. We are taught that only beautiful people get the real cool jobs. The police have the finest in crime solving technology…last time I was robbed, the cop threw a piece of paper on the table, said, “Fill this out and give it to your insurance company”. And nobody ever actually has sex nor goes to the bathroom. Life has a laugh track and a musical score. Yes, people actually believe this shit is real.
And it’s gotten worse. In tv land life is a sanitized overly clean simplistic fairy tale. While its perfectly ok to show any number of people being shot, beaten, or dying, never ever show a naked breast lest you face the wrath of government censors and national humiliation. In tv land all programming is geared towards the lowest common denominator. It’s assumed that nobody is smart enough to understand that the magic is just an illusion so why spoil it for them. In tv land people can predict the future, converse with the dead, and perform miracles. It’s on tv so it must be true. Anytime I happen to catch some program, particularly on one of the three original networks I can feel the brain cells dying by the millions. I am actually insulted by the programming and so should you. And please don’t tell me how you enjoy this program or that. It’s garbage. Every stinking bit of it. Watch a bunch of no talent kids try to sing while a panel of has-beens and never-will-be’s berate them? Watching people dance? Get your ass off the couch, grab a partner and go dancing. Don’t watch, participate.
Then there is the advertising. The endless, mind numbing advertising. The life blood of television. Buy this, buy that. It’s consumerism at its glorious best. And we drool over it like a catholic priest or a Penn State coach at a Boy Scout convention.
Finally remember this one thing. All television, every damn second, every program, every ad, is staged, choreographed, and edited to extract the most drama and excitement. It’s all designed to keep you coming back to watch more, right after a word from our sponsors.
Well, about 6 years ago I stopped. I shut down the dish and threw away the television. I said no more. I haven’t stopped completely. I still love my football games but at least I don’t keep a tv in the house. I have a bar I go to once a week to catch the games and were it not for the fact my PACKERS are on the way to another championship, I wouldn’t go near the place…although on Saturdays they got a great steak and fries dinner for $5. Can’t beat it. The point is I quit tv and so should you. Television is dying and rightfully so. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned. Replacing it? What else. The very thing you are doing now. The Internet.
The Internet is everything television isn’t and never will be. The Internet is interactive. It doesn’t run according to a schedule. All of it is on 24 hours a day and available to anyone with access, which pretty much covers most of the planet. You can find anything you want on the Internet. Want to watch ball room dancing? It’s there. Want to learn to ball room dance? There’s an app for that, someplace. Every smartphone is a tv camera, every computer is a movie studio, a publishing company, or musical sound stage. You can find or do just about anything you want on the Internet. It makes you think, a trait we ‘mericans seem to have lost over the years. You can learn, participate, interact, and make your own voice heard. Without restrictions, without censorship, and if you want, without the annoying ads. I regret all the hours I spent watching television, but I don’t regret a single second of any time I spent on the Internet. The Internet is quickly killing television as we know it today and that is a very very good thing. But, television still has a lot of clout. And they are fighting back. In the form of SOPA and PIPA. A very, very bad thing.
The current Internet censorship bills sitting on Congress are evidence that television is dying. The movers and shakers, big hollywood, the people who control television and all other forms of “entertainment” know they can’t compete with the Internet. They do not understand it other than in their minds it is simply another bunch of channels that they should be in control of. So, they get together, dust off the papyrus with the ancient copyright laws, and petition another technologically challenged group, the U.S, Congress to allow them to control content by having the ability to shut down sites they feel are violating their narrow minded view of the world. If these bills are defeated, as they should be, it will be another nail in the coffin of television. If they pass, you will see a new and more powerful Internet emerge from the ashes. One that nobody, not big Hollywood, not any government, will ever be able to control. That would be a good thing. It’ll happen no matter what, it’ll just take a little longer if SOPA passes.
In the meantime, if you take heed of one single piece of advice from this tiny little blog. If you pay attention to one thing the Fritter has to say, it’s this:
Starting right now, kill your television. Shut off your cable or dish. Throw the whole mess in the garbage. Get rid of it right fucking now. No excuses. No buts. Do it. Television is killing you. It’s stifling your ability to think clearly. It’s restricting your ability to advance in life. Kill your television before it kills you. Once you have killed your television, you will be amazed to find out how the real world works out there. Kill your television and go see for your self. I did. It’s really pretty cool. Come on out. There’s a whole universe to explore…and you won’t have to wait until next season for the exciting conclusion.