April in the Waste Land

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New at Reason: As TV Turnoff Week once again fails to sweep the nation, Nick Gillespie sticks up for pixels.

NEXT: She Blinded Me With Science

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  1. What’s wrong with shutting off the TV and doing something else for a week? It’s not like they’re trying to regulate our TV-watching habits.

    Yet.

  2. I turned mine off in 1997 and haven`t turned it back on since.I don`t miss it at all.

  3. What’s wrong with shutting up and minding one’s own business?! My tv-viewing habits are nobody’s concern but my own.

    It’s not like they’re trying to regulate our TV-watching habits.

    No, they’re just trying to guilt-trip us into realizing how “terrible” tv is for us. Which is almost as bad. You KNOW these are the exact same people who rail against cigarettes, McDonalds, and booze. I.e., fun.

  4. For me, the argument against television is not materially different from the arguments against SUVs, recreational drugs, gasoline-powered sex toys, etc. It seems people are not content to simply avoid what they find “bad.” They feel compelled to warn others. They wave proverbial red flags despite two simple princples:

    1. Intelligent people do not need warnings.

    2. Unintelligent people do not heed warnings.

    What concerns me is mentioned only in passing the article. Because adults are generally immune to the nonsense of reformation, the message is often targeted at children. For example, it is difficult to find a child educated in an American public school who is not steeped in environmentalist dogma. Fifth graders have become diminutive brown shirts of recycling.

    I think the agenda of many advocacy groups is sublime and sinister. If one can convert children through the skillful use of propaganda in the schools, these same children will grow into fully indoctrinated adults willing to pass restrictive laws.

    Reading the response of Mr. Wilson, I recall the famous quote from Patrick Star, “I sense no danger here.”

  5. Good point and bad to the bone Jose—
    they won`t teach the Constitution in schools `cause they will lose CONTROL.

  6. I won’t be turning mine off. I just leave it running all the time. I like the that high-pitched sound at about 15khz.

  7. It reminds me of Homer embracing the box with the mantra, “never fight again, never fight again.”

  8. Stale and predictable as “I Dream of Jeannie” reruns.

    Reason posts an article insulting someone who dares to say something profitable is bad. What a shocker.

    But remember, libertarianism isn’t about refusing to make judgements, just opposing coercion. You know, that asking people if they want to do something, and making your case.

  9. I work at a broadcast facility that operates two stations. Y’all get to shut off your TVs, not us.
    Also, TV Land has begun showing Sid & Marty Krofft programs late night. Nuthin’ says quality TV like Charles Nelson Reilly in a giant hat.
    Also also: less hours spent watching means lower shares means less revenue means smaller budgets means less dramatic programming and more low cost reality shows. Not watching TV to protest how shitty it is will only make it shittier.

  10. “The infamous Fredric Wertham said almost exactly the same thing about comic books, likening them to spicy food that ruined young palates for more cultivated tastes. Centuries before that, mostly male critics of new-fashioned novels fretted that such texts were corrupting the imaginations of mostly female readers, so filling them up with fantasies of travel and strong emotions that the ladies would never be able to function properly in polite society. And long, long, before that, Plato banned poets from his utopia because they stirred up the ‘passions.'”

    Let’s see if I’ve got this line of reasoning right: For centuries, there have been complaints about the effects of bad entertainment. Therefore, modern-day concerns about bad entertainment are misplaced and not worth taking seriously.

    Let’s follow that line of reasoning to a conclusion that *Reason* would probably find utterly unacceptable. For centuries, there has been criticism of the Gospel narratives, and of passion plays based on those narratives. Therefore, modern-day criticism of Mel Gibson’s *The Passion* is not worth taking seriously.

  11. Are you chanting “1040” in Latin, dhex? Has tax season gotten to you that much?

    😉

  12. The guilt tripping line of argument is interesting – is guilt tripping someone into giving to a charity almost as bad as coercing them?

    Anyway, I find the internet greatly preferable to tv. It’s interactive in a way that is genuinely meaningful (one can communicate to and possibly influence others through it). It has a variety tv can’t possible match or at any rate doesn’t match in it’s current manifestation. And it’s not limited to what a limited group of people (tv producers) decide to offer you. The internet operates on a principle closer to one dollar one vote than one man one vote – but nonetheless anyone – really anyone with internet access can potentially contribute.

  13. TV comforts them.
    It’s an electronic drug.

    Remember one of Marshal McLuhan’s more famous insights: People don’t watch the program, they watch the television.

  14. I know a guy who leaves his TV on EVEN WHEN HE ISN’T HOME. It’s on when he goes to sleep, it’s on when he wakes up.
    Some people are simply terrified of being alone.
    TV comforts them.
    It’s an electronic drug.
    Good TV.
    Goooood Teee-Veee…

  15. not really sure what’s so insulting about saying “tv’s wack as hell, motherfuckers” even if the motherfucker saying that is wacker than tv.

  16. Jimmy, there are rare diamonds buried in the trash heap. Maybe you personally require an AA/total abstinance approach to the tube, but there is a small fraction of programming that is worth seeking out.

  17. Joe, if you’re still checking this set of comments:

    It’s not quite like AA though (never been there, but heard about it) in that I have no inclination to start back watching TV. I have been tempted only twice, once by baywatch, and once by an All-Rockford-Files-All-The-Time channel.

  18. Joe, if you’re still checking this set of comments:

    It’s not quite like AA though (never been there, but heard about it) in that I have no inclination to start back watching TV. I have been tempted only twice, once by baywatch, and once by an All-Rockford-Files-All-The-Time channel.

  19. Jose, can you expand on that simple principle, “Good people don’t need warnings.” It doesn’t seem self evident to me that it is true.

    Similarly, I’m not at all sure it’s true than unintelligent people don’t heed them. If that is the case, then Reason’s frequent exposes of warnings designed to play upon widespread ignorance would be uncecessary, since the people likely to be duped by them wouldn’t respond anyway.

  20. Jimmy, there are rare diamonds buried in the trash heap. Maybe you personally require an AA/total abstinance approach to the tube, but there is a small fraction of programming that is worth seeking out.

    No matter the medium — TV, film, music, books, etc. — there seems to be an unbreakable ratio of quality to crap along the lines of 1/20. TV is no exception.

  21. Actually, my original thought was that intelligent (good or not) people don’t need warnings. Like any sweeping generalization about human behavior, I can think of many exceptions like a “Bridge Out Ahead” warning sign. One cannot expect even a genius to know a bridge is missing. The majority of warnings, however, tell us things we already know. If we order coffee at McDonald’s we generally expect this beverage to be served hot. I fail to see how the warning on the plastic lids provides any meangingful information. Intelligent people generally understand that results may vary, side effects may occur and that objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear.

    I see two primary reasons warnings are posted everywhere. First, American culture is quite prone to litigation, particularly with respect to personal injuries. Second, people do stupid things. The knee jerk response by government is to require the posting of warnings. While I have no empirical data to support my hypothesis, I suspect these warnings have little to no effect. I certainly think the costs outweigh the benefits.

    There are warnings, while not supplying surprising new information, which are valid. Despite the validity of the warning, I note that some people simply ignore them. Perhaps it is uncharitable to describe these people as unintelligent. There are otherwise briliant people who engage in activities that are exceedingly dangerous or self destructive. I’ll have to give this additional thought and see if I can build a better cliche.

  22. The most revealing quote in the article is {network newsman Ted Koppel (who kvetchs that “We have reconstructed the Tower of Babel…a thousand voices producing a daily parody of democracy, in which everyone’s opinion is afforded equal weight regardless of substance or merit”)}

    In other words the intelligentsia have lost control of the filters protecting people from all those other voices, like the new NRA network.

    Josh: {No matter the medium — TV, film, music, books, etc. — there seems to be an unbreakable ratio of quality to crap along the lines of 1/20. TV is no exception.}

    I’d guess closer to 1/200. Then you have to factor in personal taste, in that even 9/10 of the quality programming isn’t on a subject I’m interested in. That leaves me at 1/2000.

    But with a hundred channels or so and a VCR, what I want is there. Which burns Ted up, since he wants to decide what I should be interested in.

  23. Yes, Larry, there is no justification for criticizing the public’s desires, or allowing elites to limit them.

    Unless, of course, they don’t accept their betters’ ideas about the superiority of unregulated markets.

    The snob argument is a steaming load of crap.

  24. MXC! MXC! MXC!

  25. Nick, speak for yourself (you say “we simply don’t want to turn off the TV”). Yes “we” do, as in me. I haven’t had once since late in 1998, and after 2 months I didn’t miss it at all.
    I turn it on now and then when I am staying at friends’ places, and it takes all of 20 min to realize that 65 channels is still just 65 channels of crap.

    The internet is way more entertaining, what with comments by Gene Bartholemew and good old Uncle Joe (although I agree with your comment under this post, Joe). The internet, especially including the blogs, is nothing if not “pure infotainment” in the finest sense of the word (OK, words). You can see I used to watch TV, huh ;-}

    In answer to Patrick, who says “No, they’re just trying to guilt-trip us into realizing how “terrible” tv is for us. Which is almost as bad. You KNOW these are the exact same people who rail against cigarettes, McDonalds, and booze. “, I don’t agree — This is more like the national smoke-out day or whatever it’s called. Nobody’s coercing anybody or suing anybody (yet!)

    I do miss Andy, though. It’s a Southern thing, maybe most of y’all wouldn’t understand.

  26. to get off the cheerleading for a moment, i keep re-reading this quote from koppel and trying to figure out what he’s really saying. how or what is the internet, of all places, giving “equal” weight to opinions?

    we should build more towers of babel. more voices. more weights. more chaos! ave satanas! kill for kali!

    MXC! MXC! MXC!

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