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Ed Waffle

I hate television.

41 posts in this topic

The mention of Oprah's books is interesting to me because one of them was the novel "The Corrections," by Jonathan Franzen. This brought him more attention and sales that he ever would have gotten otherwise. But he was unhappy and disavowed the endorsement, apparently because he felt he'd written literature and Oprah's recommendations were strictly pop fiction. He also seemed to be saying that anybody who is influenced by a television personality was unworthy of reading his elevated prose. I think "The Corrections" is a pretty good book, but its author is a misguided snob.

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Franzen did make a fool of himself in several interesting ways in l'affaire Oprah. He should either have had the nerve to tell Winfrey that he was withdrawing his book for consideration, or done the polite thing and thanked her graciously for her selection. As it was, he made a pretty spectacular mess of it and was most insulting to Winfrey, who was trying to do him a major favor. I understand what he was getting at, but those are issues you wrestle with in private and then make your decision -- you don't make a big public display of ambivalence.

Sorry, back to the topic. :D

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But what Oprah did was give some people who might not have picked up a book like "The Corrections" b/c the couldn't get past the first chapter or thought it was a "smart" read and they couldn't do it, I admit to this phobia with some classics, so I'm glad Oprah is bringing back her book club with The Classics to be read.

It's actually a nice joining of culture and pop culture. Even if some of the literature isn't exactly lofty.

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From a Laura Jacobs critique of Twyla Tharp in The New Criterion:

"The late critic David Daniel, when he could be dragged to the theater to see something new (or was told over the phone about a recent dubious effort), loved to purr ominously, 'it’s the end of civilization as we know it.' Pushed for analysis, he fixed on the television screen as the great reductive force in American culture. There it was, shaped like a stage—a box—but without any depth or life, in fact, a vacuum. It was insanely quixotic, commercial breaks every five minutes. And most damaging, instead of being larger than life, scaled for wonder, it was very much smaller. To the teat of television, we can add the quick addictions of the computer—video games, the internet, virtual this and that. The 'extreme sports' that a tiny minority of Americans engage in (and the rest watch on TV) are the antidotal flip side to the extreme slouch of the couch potato and the computer junkie, sedentary sensibilities happy to gaze (or glaze) upon a depthless screen making synthetic sounds. As my best friend with two sons says, 'it’s a battle to keep your kids in three dimensions.' "

Though taken out of context (apologies to Ms. Jacobs), I thought it pertained pretty well.

Personally, my TV doubles as teat and telescope, depending on my needs. I almost never watch ABCNBCCBSWBFOXUPN networks.

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I think Franzen came to his senses when he heard that his publisher was deciding how to dispose of Franzen's body after the hit. Getting wierd with someone with the power of Oprah Winfrey is insane. And especially since (as I have been informed by a number of people over the past day) Winfrey does a great job of promoting a book and has done wonders for authors.

I would think the Ms. Winfrey has to employ a few editorial assistants spend full days reading books that come to her from publishers in order to create a list for her to chose from.

Since being picked by Winfrey as a book worth reading means the book will be a financial success anyone who would denigrate such a selection is an extremely odd duck.

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TV worries me, for the reason Kate B. states:

I hate TV because it drains people's energy and curiosity.

As a special ed teacher, here's my little rant on TV:

It's a receptive activity. The brain sits there and takes it all in. The brain doesn't get a chance to actively participate in an expressive way.

Humans think in pictures. When the pictures are constantly supplied to us, as in TV, we're denied the opportunity to make the pictures in our heads ourselves (as with books). When we don't make pictures inside our head, we don't comprehend well. So, yes, TV dumbs us down, but not in the way that people usually think.

I guess I shouldn't knock TV; it's probably my largest financial supporter. I tutor many kids in strategies that get them visualizing on their own. If they don't visualize, they won't be able to reason abstractly. It's a critical skill for academics and the ubiquity of TV is denying them the development of these skills.

Yes, audiences at performing arts events are using only the receptive centers of their brains. But they're not doing this day after day, night after night (no matter how much we WISH we could!) as with TV-watchers.

In the old days, when folks DID regularly attend performances of various kinds, they were also actively engaging their brains in creative arts. People sang together, people danced together - great ways to feed the expressive centers of our brains. Nowadays people watch TV together.

So we're becoming - pardon the expression - Dumb and Dumber.

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I have always found it most rewarding when the performer does not tell (show) me what to think. I like to be shown what the performer thinks. Best (and rarest) of all, I like it when the performer makes me think and leads me to new insights. It's a subtle gift. I'm thinking mostly of ballet, but there are examples even on tv. That has been one of the joys of The West Wing and (I gather, as I have never seen it) The Sopranos. Well, perhaps in narrative forms the material as much as the interpreter is the spur to intellectual engagement. But tv is not always entirely passive.

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I know there are good things on TV - The West Wing and the Sopranos certainly, but also ER and the Simpsons or ballet or many other things. And I miss watching them.

I suppose what I don't like about TV is that it sucks people in, so as well as watching a programme I wanted to watch (like ER) I would also watch whatever was on for the two hours before it and for about an hour or so afterwards.

It is just since I have not had a TV I realise what a waste of time it was. I enjoy quality TV, but I am afraid to buy a TV now because I do things in the evenings instead, and I don't want to go back to watching four hours most nights!:)

The thing is, I have becomea self righteous ex-addict. It really upsets me when I go to my mother's house for dinner and she has the tv on when we eat! I tell her to turn it off!

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I have to say I don't watch TV because so much of what's on bores me. When I do watch it, it's usually PBS, A&E, or the History Channel. Sometimes HGTV, and I admit I enjoy Will & Grace (I liked Seinfeld, too, when it was on:)). I watched every episode of the first American Idol because I was taking voice lessons and found it interesting to compare, but found the next edition (and all other "reality" shows) dull. Mostly I use the TV along with the VCR or DVD player for my ballet and opera videos, and sometimes the news, although I usually get my news from the Washington Post. Also, I hate the screen formats of news shows with all those columns and words running across the bottom of the screen. TV is a tremendous power that can be used for good, but it usually isn't. One problem is that you have to have cable to be able to see a lot of the good arts programs, but arts programs are so rare that it usually ends up being a waste of money.

Is it just me or is there a lot more drivel on TV these days? I remember being enthralled by Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock as a child, but I don't remember anything like the Power Puff Girls or Sponge Bob Square Pants. Maybe I just wasn't allowed to watch as much as other kids.

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Perhaps deteriorating quality over time is indeed true. We had "Kukla, Fran and Ollie," by the brilliant puppeteer Burr Tilstrom (sp?), which I loved, and "Winky Dink." Winky Dink watchers could send away for a special kit that included (I presume -- never having gotten one) a cellophane pane for covering the tv screen, and children were encouraged to draw on the pane. What a clever way to teach toddlers drawing! Maybe my lack of said kit (and subsequent inability to draw on the tv when others my age did) explains my poor work in art class relative to my classmates. :confused:

On the other hand, we also had some pretty stupid stuff, stupider I'm sure than even Teletubbies and Barney.

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Ha - I think the real point of Winky Dink was to blackmail parents into buying Winky Dink kits or deal with the "deprived" child who draws all over the screen anyway.

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So the deprived kids grew into careers as graffiti artists, right? :mad: I wonder if that's how Keith Haring got his start.

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The Teletubbies exert a strange hold over this viewer, but even without that I must defend them -- I don't think the program is dumb, only geared to the very, very young and their love of repetition. :mad:

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dirac, i too think there is more to teletubbies than meets the eye. (NOT saying that i watch it. but i have done, with a 2 year old...)

i am just posting to say that i find vagansmom's post to be most interesting, providing food for thought.

though i am inclined to think that TV-watching is NOT necessarily ENTIRELY passive, i can see what you are getting at, and if i didn't have anything else to think about today, i would certainly ponder a bit, on that worthwhile issue. thanks for your post. :D

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So many interesting posts and so many lucid and interesting views.

Someone said "the brain just sits there and you dont participate" or something to that effect. Sure enough, if you go to see a ballet performance you just sit there as well (if you are not on stage).

Well, thats hardly the problem. My own problem with TV is that the program makers insult my intelligence. That is to say, they do not give ME what I WANT. I totally disregard that other people might think the world of sitcoms and Big Brother or whatever it is called.

I have armed myself with satellite and program sheets, yet I must say there isnt much anywhere. But there is always something that interests just ME if I feel in the mood for watching TV.

We have to realize that every medium has its advantages and disadvantages. I love the Internet for BalletAlert and other art sites, but I hate it for all the junk mail I get. I love TV for the fine programs I see - last Saturday a very good bio on Billie Holiday on the Swedish network to mention just one example.

There is no need to be a snob about it, but I willingly admit that there are times when people might have called me one.

Openness of mind, choosing what you like, rejecting what does not interest you, that is probably the best idea.

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Actually, I went to hear someone speak about the effect of media on children once, and he said that as we sat there listening to him, we were burning more calories than we would had we been watching TV. I suppose it depends to an extent on the program, though.

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