How much TV is too much TV?
There are some people who believe watching TV rots people’s brains. Obviously if you are reading this column you are probably not one of those people. But do the teachers and parents of the world who put down television have a point?
Throughout my life I have always argued with those who believe television is the lowest form of culture. I try to point out how there are educational and intellectual shows on television. Heck the A&E network at one point actually showed arts and entertainment before it lowered itself to showing biographies of Meredith Baxter-Birney, Kato Kaelin and reality crap like Growing up Gotti.
While decent television programs that have educational value still exist their ratings are at the bottom scale of things and they exist on the remote hidden speciality channels. So really that argument doesn’t hold much weight anymore as I honestly only watch maybe one hour a week of “educational” television. It’s been a long time since I watched marathons of “Great Castles of Europe” on TLC.
Thanks to HBO, Showcase and other cable networks there has been a steady stream of quality drama and comedies. These shows have equal or better talent to anything being put out by Hollywood these days. Perhaps that is more of a statement about Hollywood though. For a quick example HBO’s Rome, after two episodes, is far superior to Gladiator (minus the first battle scene). Programs produced by cable networks benefit by the fact they do not have to appeal to a mass audience.
Even with these types of programs now available to the viewing public the vast majority of programs on television are total crap with no value whatsoever. At this point you may be asking what prompted this part rant/part thesis about the nature of television today. Well something happened during the summer while I got hooked to Big Brother 6.
When I was checking out the summer TV schedule I was annoyed that two reality shows, Big Brother and Rock Star: INXS, would be airing multiple times a week. I believe each show normally airs three times a week.
I thought to myself about what kind of commitment the networks are asking the viewers to put into these shows? I know that really CBS wanted to just fill empty slots on its schedule with new, cheap programming rather than repeats and I guess I should appreciate that. But I got annoyed with the demand these shows were putting on my life.
Right away I decided I could not commit to both shows, so I went with Big Brother because I had seen past versions and find it somewhat entertaining. From several people I have heard Rock Star has been great, although they openly admit that they can’t see any of them replacing Michael Hutchence.
Big Brother has hour long shows, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Maybe I have commitment issues, perhaps I should ask my ex-girlfriends, but that is still too much for me. One week I missed a Thursday episode because of a softball game and was away that weekend so missed the Saturday show. By the time I got back to the show Tuesday I felt lost.
But that isn’t even it. Thanks to IP’s Sarah Jane Correia I have discovered the deep dark secrets of Big Brother revealed by the live feeds offered by CBS. So I started to read the live recaps on another website, not to be mentioned just in case it gets me in trouble. Than I stopped! What the hell is happening to me?
I am obsessing over a show that really isn’t that good. Sure Big Brother took the idea of “coupling” that I thought would be great and ran with it. (although honestly this would have worked SO much better with Survivor good on them for trying it) Big Brother at best can be called fluff entertainment. Hey I am the first to admit my love for fluff. Heck this summer I watched Beauty & The Geek and love High School Reunion.
As bad as I got over Big Brother there were people that were actually watching the live feeds ALL THE TIME. Hey I don’t want to put them down because heck I appreciate their hard work but I try to have somewhat of a life outside of my television. But who am I to judge I also obsess over movies, sports and video games.
During my way too many hours of watching television this summer I managed to capture WAY too many previews of the new programs set to air. One of the shows, Invasion, features a scene where a teenage girl talks about how her dad says TV is used to control people because when they are watching it they don’t think of anything else. Well that might not be exactly it but it was along those lines.
No I don’t believe there is any government conspiracy to make the masses stupid and compliant. Even so I can’t disagree that all those hours spent in front of my TV could be better spent. Secretly I have always been a bit jealous of kids that said their parents never let them watch TV so they have no interest in it. I know that probably made them a bit socially awkward. I mean they can’t join into my friends and I drunken conversations about what transformer or G.I. Joe character was our favourite.
Partly though I am envious they do not have the addiction to TV so many of us suffer from. I don’t smoke, heck I don’t even drink coffee but I am addicted to TV. During this whole column I have had my TV, the Toronto Blue Jays game in case you care. Baseball is not a very demanding sport to watch.
Does this mean I will change my ways? Does this mean I think people shouldn’t watch TV? Heck no! But for tonight I am done with TV, it’s time to go fill another vice of mine. I’m off to go drink some nice cold beer.
To quote Homer Simpson: “Alcohol, the cause of AND solution to all of life’s problems.” (see even animated shows can teach you something)