Sunday, May 8, 2011

An Apology for Television

I will first offer an apology, in the most common usage of the word, for television. Quite a large amount of television these days, frankly, sucks. The advent of reality TV has brought us dating shows, American Idol, Sarah Palin, Skating with the Stars, Celebrity Apprentice, and many of the other useless, ridiculous programming that is somewhat entertaining for some, but mostly just annoying and pointless for the rest of us. TV also has way too many cooking, news, and sports shows than anyone could possibly watch, and informercials still dominate the airwaves (or whatever they call them now with digital TV) after midnight on many channels.
    Granted, TV can rot your brain. But this is only if you watch crap like the following: The View, followed by court TV, soap operas, gameshows, reruns of Gunsmoke and Bonanza, and then your cocktail of Dancing with the Stars, Sarah Palin, and Extreme Home Makeover all day long. (This is all not even taking into account all the horrible commercials they show during these shows.) These are nothing but frivolous people doing frivolous things trying to make them seem important and relevant, and even helpful to the rest of us, even though they never will be any of those things.
    Modern television is more than these. I know and wholeheartedly believe this. I attribute much of my widespread knowledge to my lifelong love for television, although much of this knowledge is often only useful for trivia like Jeopardy questions. There are dramas, crime dramas, doctor dramas, courtroom dramas, comedies, and there are nonfiction shows like some that the Discovery Channel, History Channel, and PBS have--there is more programming out there than anyone could ever watch. But the point here is that television is not just a means to make yourself stupider, though unfortunately, that is what many people are choosing to do, and what many of the television companies and broadcasters are trying to make us choose to do.
    So, I offer an apology for television, that is, an apology in the original sense of the word--a defense. You must realize that you can learn from TV. It may be historical facts, it may be news and current events, or it may just be how people act and react when they're in certain situations. But television can help you learn. Books and newspapers may be a better choice when it comes to learning, but for those of us who are very visual learners, sometimes seeing a visual representation and having a narrator tell us what a book might tell us helps the information sink in better. TV is only bad for you if you let it be. You can choose to use TV to increase neuron connections or to sever them.
    Television is entertaining--that's not going to change. And I do watch it primarily for entertainment, I won't lie. But it is the source for about 50% of my current events and news knowledge as well. Most of the history facts I've retained are from movies and television programs too. And my sensitivity to people's emotions and sensibilities (though that may not always be apparent here) is due to watching how people interact on TV. Maybe it's given me a slightly skewed view of reality, but I've lived a little and adjusted those views as has been necessary.
    In a final defense of television, it's never just the TV, or the video games, or the books, or the movies, that make people dumb or violent or irrational. People do that on their own by taking the aforementioned media sources too seriously and deifying them into something they never should have been and never meant to be. So, give the reality TV a rest once in a while, and check out the news or the History Channel or something sometime. You might learn something, and get to sound really smart at the next barbecue you go to.
We'll be right back with a message from our sponsors.


Outnumbered said...

You are watching the wrong channels girl!! A&E has excellent alternatives (IE Walking Dead & Breaking Bad). Equally enjoyable reality television - Pawn Stars and American Pickers.

Constant Writer said...

I hardly ever watch A&E. I watch a lot of TBS, TNT, FX, USA, Comedy Central, Travel Channel. I like the shows on the travel channel which are technically reality TV, but I think of reality TV more as like Jersey Shore and the Real World--A bunch of people thrown together competing for something or trying to get their 15 minutes of fame. No Reservations or Man V. Food isn't reality TV in my mind.
I like shows like Justified, Leverage, Burn Notice, Psych, etc. But honestly, there aren't enough hours in the day for me to watch everything I'd like to be watching. Which is why I love Hulu :)

+Constant Writer

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