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I hate television.


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#1 Ed Waffle

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Posted 01 June 2003 - 02:36 PM

I hate television.

Not because there is never anything good on it--we never know what is on because we don't watch TV. The only reason we even own one is for those time when it seems one has to watch--like a war, assassination or other calamity.

But it is impossible to get away from television. It is too much a part of the culture to avoid. I hate its ubiquity and the way its stupid catch phrases have become a subsitute for a common language, at least in the United States.

The most recent example is from a review of Cannes excerpted by Alexandra. Part of that review said:

the year that every critic became an incarnation of the Comic Book Guy on "The Simpsons," pronouncing the 56th edition of Cannes the worst festival ever.


I have never seen the Simpsons, although, of course, I know that they are a cartoon family. But the assumption is that everyone watches TV, everyone watches the Simpsons and everyone who reads the New York Times knows the Comic Book Guy.

I don't know who he is and and don't care to find out.

#2 grace

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Posted 02 June 2003 - 06:44 AM

i sympathise, ed.

however, with the utmost respect for YOUR point of view, i'm afraid that *I* LOVE TELEVISION!

;)

#3 Old Fashioned

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Posted 02 June 2003 - 02:49 PM

Originally posted by Ed Waffle
I have never seen the Simpsons, although, of course, I know that they are a cartoon family. But the assumption is that everyone watches TV, everyone watches the Simpsons and everyone who reads the New York Times knows the Comic Book Guy.


I'm sorry that you feel that way Ed, but writers are always making references to other sources. They've been doing that for a long long time. It's like allusions in literature. The article was written for today's society, and many people do watch the Simpsons and will know what it's talking about.

If I may, may I correct you on that the Simpsons is an "animated sitcom"? I know you probably care less either way, but I feel like I have to make that statement.:D

#4 Ed Waffle

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Posted 02 June 2003 - 06:12 PM

Originally posted by Old Fashioned
The article was written for today's society, and many people do watch the Simpsons and will know what it's talking about.


I realize that knowing how the Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons thinks about things in 2003 is pretty much the same as wondering if Little Nell was going to survive in The Old Curiosity Shop in 1841.

There is probably a grumpy person who complains about everything in The Simpsons, and he is probably a lot like me. :D :D

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 02 June 2003 - 06:44 PM

Ed, I agree. There has to be a difference between a society whose communal frame of reference was the Greek myths and one whose communal frame of reference is anything on television! (I don't hate TV per se, I'm mistrustful of its influence. Nothing wrong with watching anything on it, as long as one knows the difference between something on prime time networks or cable and art, or literature. Of course, that difference is no longer being taught, and I really think the impetus behind that is that if you don't ever tell them that filet mignon is better, don't ever let them taste it, you'll sell a heck of a lot more hamburgers.)

#6 Mel Johnson

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Posted 02 June 2003 - 07:14 PM

Don't feel alone, Ed, I don't care for The Simpsons either; now InuYasha....;)

#7 GWTW

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Posted 02 June 2003 - 10:33 PM

Ed and Alexandra, why do you hate TV? Because it's pervasive, because it's ubiquitous??? Isn't that just being snobbish - like Groucho Marx (or Woody Allen??:D ) saying they wouldn't join a club that would accept them as a member. What is so innately elevated about the Greek myths or about ancient Greek society? I agree that you can't call someone well-educated (in the Western, dead white male sense) without that person being familiar with the Greek myths - however in the context of the period in which they were transferred into written form, I surely wouldn't have wanted to be a Spartan nor would I have wanted to be a woman or a slave in the Athenian 'democracy'. You just have to read Lysistrata to know that.:D
I also disagree, Ed, with your list of times that one has to watch TV. War, terrorist attacks, suicide bombs, assasinations - those are the times when we should try not to watch TV, when we should try to understand what's going on as individuals and not see only the picture that is most suitable or appropriate or palatable to the masses. That's when the pervasity and ubiquity of TV is really dangerous - when we all have just the one memory of an event. Obviously, I don't follow my own advice - I share everyone's indelible memories of many tragic events (and a few happy ones). But that's just the point - these memories belong to everyone and therefore to noone.

#8 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 02 June 2003 - 10:58 PM

TV gets me crazy. I turned mine off in '91. I still own one and use it to view and edit dance tapes, but that's it (in Manhattan, I don't get any reception anyway so there's little temptation without cable.)

Why does TV make me crazy? The bottom line is, as structured in the US, TV is set up to support itself by selling you stuff. The more stuff you buy, the more money they make on TV. If it doesn't sell advertising, it doesn't stay on TV.

People used to use irony as a defense against the idiocy of network television. Then they discovered that irony sells. Now we're deluged in glib irony.

TV wouldn't bother me so much if it weren't commercial. I'm not even going to try and defend myself against charges of snobbery ;)

Germane to this issue [though veering into politics, my apologies], the FCC has just voted to remove more restrictions against cross-ownership in markets. Arguably, this could lead to mass communication ownership in even fewer hands, something that I think will unfortunately make the information (especially news) on TV of even lower quality.

#9 Alexandra

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 05:50 AM

All intellectual snobs welcome here. :D

Does one really still have to make a case for why the Greek myths (or Indian, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Norse, Roman myths) served art for so long? First, because they did provide a common frame of reference. If one needed to show Wisdom, the gods offered Minerva, or Odin. And second, because what high art has that popular art does not is layers -- layers of meaning, symbolism, etc. etc. etc.

If people want to watch tv -- and they obviously do -- fine. But I just saw a serious attempt to make a classical ballet by someone whose frame of reference reached no further than sit coms. And that's not the road to anything that lasts.

#10 Kate B

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 05:58 AM

I make adverts for a living and I don't even have a TV at home! I don't have TV per se, The Simpsons is very good, I miss seeing the news sometimes, other programmes... But there are too many other things to do I've found I don't have enough time for, without 'vegging out' every night as well.

I need to watch adverts though, so I get them at work and watch them in secret. No one at work knows that I don't watch TV.;)

#11 kfw

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 08:20 AM

I'm sure there are wonderful things on TV. And just as soon as I get done reading all the Great Books, reading all the great commentaries on them, then reading the original books again, I'm going to find out what those programs are!

#12 dirac

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 08:53 AM

I watch quite a bit of TV. No apologies.

The advertisers subsidize the programming, which is why we have commercials. As in many other areas of life, it's a tradeoff, with its good and bad points.

As a member of the lower class vulgarian hordes, I for one would not like to contemplate life without the occasional re-viewing of the Nairobi Trio....

#13 Calliope

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 08:55 AM

I love TV

If it weren't for it, I might not have read half of "Oprah's" books, knew what people were talking about when they referred to "Soup Nazi", or learned that you really can't see the Great Wall of China from space.

I admit to watching must see TV, American Idol and lots of MTV. If anything, I feel a bit smarter b/c of it.
TV, the 'net, radio...it's mass media. We'll never get away from it. They're part of our classrooms. My mom used to yell at me for playing video games, now they've released a study saying they're not all that bad, but I'm still respectful enough not to tell her.

I just finished reading "The DaVinci Code" and there's a discussion between characters and they talk about Disney and how the films are loaded with meaning and symbolism (Snow White, eats the apple and dies...a la Eve)
So I think popular art can have the same qualities as high art, sometimes it may not be as obvious.

I think people are to quick to dismiss tv as bad.
Just like there's bad tv shows, there's horrific high art.

#14 Dale

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 09:06 AM

I agree with you, Calliope. This reminds me of when I went to Columbia J-school. In our TV news class, our professor went around the room and asked what peopole watched on TV. "Kathy?" "I don't watch television, I reeeaaad...." "Jack?" "I only watch the News Hour?" "Dale?" "Like, Oh, great, let me see, I love Beavis and Butthead, all the shows on Nick at Night and TV Land, lots of Sports, Seinfield, the Simpsons, the Young Ones...." "Ok, we get the idea."

Why is it more exalted to sit in a movie theater for 90 minutes-2 hours and stare at a screen, but to do it at home with the TV and you're considered witless? As Calliope said, yes, we're being sold to on network tv and there's lots of crap, but there's crap out in films, theater, ballet, etc...

What do I watch now? I have to say I have never, ever watched reality tv shows. I just don't like them. But, I have a passion for the Sopranos, OZ, Sex and the City, the first 4 seasons of Law@Order, Frontline (on PBS), sports (although I can't stand the announcers anymore), and the Gilmore Girls (a passion a share with a certain Ballet Alerter). In addition to Gilligan's Island and some other old shows on TV land and the Food Network-typle stuff (love Nigella Lawson). Although I do watch certain news shows, I can't take the talking-head syndrome - no new news, but just rehashing and speculation.

That said, I take Ed's point, not everybody watches the Simpsons and it is strange that a NYTimes writer would just assume everyone would be able to make the connection with a side character from the show. The use of popular references has just gone overboard (although the Gilmore Girls use them, they also make references to history, music and literature).

#15 Ari

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 10:27 AM

Originally posted by Ed Waffle
But it is impossible to get away from television. It is too much a part of the culture to avoid. I hate its ubiquity and the way its stupid catch phrases have become a subsitute for a common language, at least in the United States. But the assumption is that everyone watches TV, everyone watches the Simpsons and everyone who reads the New York Times knows the Comic Book Guy.

This is true of all aspects of popular culture, including pop music and mainstream films. I'm at a similar disadvantage, Ed, because I don't follow this kind of stuff either. Actually, I think it's more insulting to assume that everyone likes rock music; it offends me more than dumb TV. I saw Movin' Out last weekend and found the Billy Joel songs to be unbearable caterwauling — and he's far from the worst out there. And it irritates me that the actors who are lionized by the media are often just good-looking celebrities with a hunger for fame, not serious artists. But it's a fact that more people are familiar with crummy pop culture than even good pop culture, and when you're trying to communicate, it's effective.


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