August 25, 2003

Turning Off, Dropping Out

I have just given my permission for them to pull the plug. I can't take it anymore. All I hear in there is crazy talk; rambling, rude, disjointed sounds without purpose; loud, empty noise lacking any real melody or lyric. Killing time in the same room with it seems so foolish, we have so little time. Watching that face for a flicker of skin, a car crash, a laugh at someone's expense... is obscene and petty and I feel controlled. I never trusted that cold flickering eye-- always felt it was sizing me up for the kill-- looking for my vulnerabilities that would seduce me to buy, to believe, to open wide and take it in and swallow what it fed me. For some reason, I kept going back, thinking "this time, there will be something in this interaction I will carry away, I will be truly fed this time... just this one more time."

We're pulling the plug. I've lost any hope of being a better person-- or even an entertained person-- for having a television in my home. Not physically better (except perhaps in my thenar imminences), not intellectually, morally or spiritually. I inquired from my Customer Service Rep if they might let me keep just the History Channel for, oh, a buck a month. They were not amused. That's what I told them was the dollar value I was getting out of my subscription, and please just let's not do this any more.

There will be a bit of monthly savings, even though at about the same time, we will be subscribing to a (slow end of the spectrum of FAST) DSL Internet connection as the tube departs. But it's not the money, or at least not only the money influencing our decision to once again be TV-free (as we were when the kids were growing up). We are stepping back across to the uncrowded end of the cultural divide. Count this as one small vote against the perpetual baptism in aspects of American popular culture that I could hardly care less about, and find increasingly damaging and unhealthy for my soul. I hugely regret the fact that this country so vigorously exports this vacuous commodity around the Coca-colonized world. But I can avoid importing it into my own personal space so obtrusively as the one-eyed brain-sucker can do so effectively and seductively.

We'll put a table cloth over it, set a plant on top of it, and poke a MASH tape in the VCR every once in a while. I'll miss the Gunsmoke reruns, but I'll get over it.

Posted by fred1st at August 25, 2003 06:37 AM | TrackBack


Posted by: bill at August 25, 2003 09:15 AM

I echo Bill's congratulations. It's amazing how much time you will magically find you have, Fred, to do things like post more stuff on here. :)

Posted by: Pica at August 25, 2003 10:12 AM

i don't like tv but i do like movies, so ours stays but only for movies pretty much. congratulations on making the commitment!

Posted by: bud at August 25, 2003 12:21 PM

Good for you! Congratulations!

If I didn't live with elderly in-laws who are connected by the Time-Warner umbilical cord, I'd get rid of cable myself.

Posted by: Cody at August 25, 2003 02:46 PM

Karl Marx wrote that religion is the opiate of the masses. These days I wonder if television would be a better candidate for that role. Enjoy the freedom!

Posted by: Geoff at August 25, 2003 06:20 PM

TV is mostly crap--no argument there--and when you have a spouse and a pet, TV just gets in the way. I'm fresh out of human/canine cohabitants, though, so I look forward to a visit from Diana Rigg on Sunday nights, a tour of people's basements on Antiques Roadshow whenever I can get it, History Detectives, Masterpiece Theater, Turner Classic Movies, occasional A&E Biography, ditto Inside the Actors' Studio. A girl can't read ALL the time.

Posted by: Doc Rock at August 25, 2003 06:58 PM

A girl can't read all the time, but she can watch movies on video, she can listen to the radio, she can listen to books on tape while she mends, sews, folds laundry, she can have dinner parties and invite near-strangers to try exotic new recipes. A girl can take a course, learn a language, work in the garden. A girl can take up water colors, ballroom dancing, live jazz, playing piano, or clarinet or sax. A girl can write letters, join a hiking club, paint her walls. There ain't no end to what a girl can do when she turns off the boob-tube!

Posted by: trish at August 25, 2003 08:11 PM

good for you, Floyd. i grew up without TV and as a result i read a lot more - and as a result i learnt to love words and writing. so i say turn off the TV and turn on the power of the imagination.

Posted by: Gianna at August 26, 2003 09:05 AM

> I hugely regret the fact that this country so vigorously exports this vacuous commodity around the Coca-colonized world.

I can well understand your disenchantment with the drivel that passes for TV programming, and applaud your decision to disconnect, but our entertainment industry is often the only source of information about a free society.

Ask anyone who grew up behind the Iron Curtain in the 60's and 70's [or in China and Cuba today]. The forbidden images and sounds of a Coca-Cola world outside their gray existence gave them hope for change. When one stands on line for days to receive a few moldy oranges... Fanta orange soda pop looks pretty damned good. The Asian, Cuban, Russian, Slav and Ukrainian migres I know have the intelligence to recognise what is valid in our culture and reject what is not. None want to live in their homeland...all have applied for or have become citizens.

Don't forget, that along with Brittany's belly button we export the concept of free will and mankind's right to self-determination and that changes everything once a society has access to the images and sounds of the free world.

Posted by: feste at August 27, 2003 03:56 PM

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