I was watching Ace go through a fairly epic rant on Twitter the other day on the subject of television, and I’m fairly sure it led to this rather remarkable essay and declaration of war on the boob tube. It’s easy enough to criticize television in general for many of us, and particularly when politically fixated consumers are talking about cable news or network anchors. But Ace has taken this to the meta level, essentially walking away from every band on the broadcast spectrum because of the way it is “soaked” in the language of the left, not to mention being a colossal waste of time.
We all know what the expanded version of the problem is: The problem is that we live in, as Andrew Breitbart called it, a “Matrix” of leftist assumptions and propaganda, all being delivered to us 24/7 by a wireless intravenous drip system called television.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I’ve been thinking it’s time to actually do something. Just an idea, but I would like to start thinking seriously about delivering a truly grievous wound to the Political-Entertainment Complex.
I’m thinking about, firstly, stopping watching almost TV entirely and shedding cable stations. (Some cut the cable entirely.)
There’s plenty of ammunition here for an indictment of television as a tool of leftist propaganda, but as I mentioned above, Ace goes quite a bit further, declaring television inherently useless – if not evil – in and of itself, no matter what program is on the small screen.
TV makes it easy to Do Nothing. It makes it easy to be bored. TV is not horrible– don’t get me wrong. It’s occasionally funny or interesting. It could not draw so many of us to be voluntary prisoners to it every night if it were horrible.
But it is always a suboptimal choice. Whenever the TV is the main focus, that is a suboptimal choice made as to how to spend that hour.
Oh, I don’t mean when the TV is on in background as one folds clothes. In that case, sure, one needs a distraction from the mindless work. But most times, we could be spending those hours mindfully, and instead we’re sitting glassy eyed and slack-jawed looking at glowing box of moving pictures. Virtually any moment spent in front of the TV is a defeat.
I’m reminded at this time of my father. He purchased a television by the time I was only a toddler… a big console affair with a tiny, probably 7 inch black and white screen in it. He upgraded it from time to time at my mother’s request, but for the most part Dad hated television. He called it a waste of time. He did have one or two shows which came on in the evening which he would sit and watch, but most of the time he was doing something else. (Oddly enough, his one “appointment TV” show some years later when I was in middle school was the original Kung Fu with David Carradine.)
I’m not going to ride to the rescue of television viewing as a way of life here. I think we all realize that if you’re spending six hours a night watching reruns of shows you’ve already seen (I plead guilty on this one too often) then you could be doing something better with your time. During the day I at least have an excuse because my job revolves around the news and I’m flipping back and forth between four news stations most of the time. But I also watch plenty of TV for entertainment, dubious though it may be.
Yes, you can claim that the vast majority of television programming tilts to the Left, or possibly crashes full bore in that direction. But if you are such a mindful and independent thinker that you’re willing to take the drastic step to cut the cord, you weren’t in much danger of being brainwashed by liberal ideology in the first place. And cutting those sorts of minds out of the market isn’t going to do anything to dilute the masses who actually are ready to absorb the message.
And let’s remember that a lot of what we choose to view is for pleasure, not information. Is entertainment in your leisure hours such a sin? Is any time not spent in productive labor wasted? Ace talks about his desire to get back to reading plenty of books. That’s an admirable goal and I frequently bemoan the number of books on my “to read” list which I haven’t gotten to yet. But let’s face it… reading is entertainment also. He describes television viewing as watching other people’s dreams or doing nothing while watching other people who are actually doing things. But reading is essentially the same activity. It only looks more noble because our own minds are filling in the images.
I think the rule of thumb here is the same as with pretty much every other aspect of life: all things in moderation. Most of us could probably do with a bit more raking leaves or taking a walk and less time on the couch, but cutting TV out entirely doesn’t really seem to solve the core problem. If you are spending too much time in front of the boob tube, you’re just allowing yourself to be distracted. And if that’s your natural inclination, you’ll find a different way to waste your time even if the television is gone.