TV Turnoff Week
April 20, 2003 8:04 PM   Subscribe

TV Turnoff Week - April 21-27, 2003 (it's baaaaack!)
posted by boost ventilator (70 comments total)
I don't know, man. It's the final season of Buffy. Is it a repeat this Tuesday? Great idea, but I am weak.
(Does it count if I tape it and watch it next week..?)
posted by Shane at 8:21 PM on April 20, 2003

No Frontline? No Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:24 PM on April 20, 2003

I haven't turned mine ON in weeks.
posted by Hackworth at 8:25 PM on April 20, 2003

This "television"... is this something you'd need to watch television to know about?
posted by 4easypayments at 8:28 PM on April 20, 2003

I haven't turned mine ON in weeks.

Right, Hackworth - think of how much more hellish it would be if there was a campaign urging us to watch TV for a week. Imagine the slogans:

"You'll be amazed at how much you're missing!"

"Discover the inner couch potato in you."

"Watch rubbish so you'll know quality when you see it."


That said, I hate campaigns of any sort that imply that our behaviour can be bettered by weaning us away from our addictions for a limited period. My contrariness just makes me want to turn on the TV, just to spite them. Though that would be even more stupid, right?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:31 PM on April 20, 2003

At least for me... the internet is much more of a time-waster and a distraction than TV.
posted by gyc at 8:34 PM on April 20, 2003

Turn off my TV for one week?

No problem. I've got a TiVo.
posted by pjdoland at 8:36 PM on April 20, 2003

I shut mine off in 1987 and haven't turned it back on. Have I missed anything important? What's happening with little Rudy Huxtable?
posted by dobbs at 8:37 PM on April 20, 2003

This is like the Buy Nothing Day in that it's terribly scheduled. April is typically home to season and series finales that some people wouldn't dare miss, and this coming week is no exception.

I'm all for a week where people should be urged to turn off their sets, but shouldn't it at least be in the summer when most everything is in reruns and its more likely to be nice enough outside to actually do something? More people would probably respond to that campaign.
posted by dogwalker at 8:41 PM on April 20, 2003

These guys can go stick their head in a pig. i *heart* tv.

"but marge, tv gives so much and asks so little."
posted by MrLint at 8:41 PM on April 20, 2003

Most of TV can be absorbed with a few years of solid viewing untill it begins to repeat and the only diffrence is one of derivitive nature, the medium has limitations. The Internet has a much broader scope. I would think anyone today watching more TV than Internet either doesn't have broadband or is still early in the adoption curve.
posted by stbalbach at 8:42 PM on April 20, 2003

When is "Turn off the computer" week?
posted by Ayn Marx at 9:11 PM on April 20, 2003

I don't currently own a television, but I don't have much sympathy for the cult of anti-television. Its heart's in the right place, but I agree with Zippy creator Bill Griffith who I've heard advise people to watch as much television as possible, watch as many movies as possible, listen to as much music as possible, read as many books as possible, etc. Life for an artist is about immersion in learning, aesthetics, entertainment, ideas, and creative expression, and television is just one more successful medium through which human creativity is explored.
posted by dgaicun at 9:13 PM on April 20, 2003

Oh sure. Right when the Canucks force game 7. Perfect.
posted by sillygwailo at 9:42 PM on April 20, 2003

Someone has to do it: Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Television.

Just to be fair, I should mention that this article first appeared at the end of a three-year period during which I didn't own a television. And I was constantly mentioning it. There's nothing more embarrassing than finding yourself parodied in the Onion.
posted by Eamon at 9:43 PM on April 20, 2003

Bill Griffith wins. dgaicun wins by proxy.

Like any other medium, TV is only bad if you happen to watch more of the bad than the good. It is not hard to find good programs on TV that will enrich your life. Yep, it's true.
posted by Hildago at 9:45 PM on April 20, 2003

Yeah, what about us Tivo owners? I pick what I want to watch, when, and skip the crap.

Personally, I do have a lot of sympathy for the "cult of anti-television." There's something to be said for not seeing the forest for the trees, especially if you've been more or less raised by the TV.

I don't see it as just another medium, its ubiquitous and a very (if not too) influential part of our culture. Sure, the hyperbole of the anti-TV crowd is a bit annoying, but the Tivo has shown me, by comparison, how hostile, annoying, loud, and stupid a regular broadcast TV is.
posted by skallas at 10:06 PM on April 20, 2003

No kidding. Do we need to stamp out people's reliance on poorly-written biased newspapers or penny romance novels by having a "no reading week"?

Anything that lumps PBS, cartoons, prime time, and everything else into a single "evil" category is just plain silly.

(Gotta go, a "Law and Order" rerun that I've only seen twice before is on.)
posted by mmoncur at 10:08 PM on April 20, 2003

When is Holier Than Though Week?

And what about Self Righteous Week? I hope I didn't miss those.
posted by xmutex at 10:21 PM on April 20, 2003

fuck, Thou.

okay. back to tv.
posted by xmutex at 10:24 PM on April 20, 2003

Yeah, there should be a tv-turnon week for us cultural outcasts who don't vibe in front of the tube our whole lives. We can find out what we're "missing" :P
posted by delmoi at 10:28 PM on April 20, 2003

So this "television", it....

posted by dazed_one at 10:52 PM on April 20, 2003

So, here's a good question I'd love to hear the anti-TV crowd answer:


I don't want an opinionated answer to that which suggests most everything on TV is trash (hint: It isn't, provoke me and I'll give proof). Give me a good, solid, scientific or economic reason. What will be the benefits of me doing this?

(I feel the silence already)
posted by shepd at 11:09 PM on April 20, 2003

You sound terribly defensive, shepd.
posted by muckster at 11:24 PM on April 20, 2003

I am defensive. That page tells me I need to turn off my TV but it doesn't give me a single valid reason why. It smacks of dogma, and I'm terribly set against such things.

The site gives me nothing but links like these, to hysterical rantings that lead me to ask more quesitons about their true motives.

Things are so frightening right now that I like the news to come from me,” he says. “That way I can reassure them they are safe.”

Huh? I don't get it. You are scared that your kids might learn about the truth of the world, Steven Spielberg, yet you continue to make non-fiction, hard-hitting, truthful movies such as "Schindler's List"? Do you regret doing that now? Or do you just prefer to put everything you present to your children through a pablum filter?

It just seems like another "movement" where simple questions like these:

"Why are you doing this?"
"How does this benefit us?"

Have never been answered.
posted by shepd at 11:35 PM on April 20, 2003

MTV is the latest station to reject our anti-TV [commercial]... "As a network that makes its money on commercials, that kind of goes against MTV in general," said Lisa O'Keefe, MTV ad sales, New York. Ms. O'Keefe is not returning our calls for further explanation.

Further explanation?

Give me a good, solid, scientific or economic reason.

shepd, if you don't feel your time would be better spent doing something else, then there's no reason for you to stop watching.
posted by eddydamascene at 11:41 PM on April 20, 2003

there are all kinds of documentaries and films that i would never have the chance to see if i didn't own a tv, stuff that never makes the theatres or if it does it's in such a limited run that only a small segment of society gets a viewing. plus every so often a quality show comes along and there's simply nothing wrong with being entertained for an hour once a week (i'm a masterpiece theatre junkie myself). it also seems completely bonkers to me to not watch tv news for at least the film footage. you don't have to buy the spin your local network puts on events (as if all other news media don't spin quite fiercely themselves) , but come on, as a seriously visually oriented person i need to see these events sometimes.

for instance, you (mr or ms tv snob) missed the fall of the berlin wall and it was such a sight...! sure you likely read about it in the paper and saw the still photos, but that's not even remotely the same as watching it happen live. watching nelson mandela take his first steps of freedom after decades of imprisonment - not the same reading about it in the paper, or hearing it on the radio. there are so many examples but it's too late and the tv snobs aren't going to change their minds no matter what anyone says... but they have missed quite a bit.

as an aside... i don't believe snobbery (of any sort) has anything concrete to do with the subject of the snob's derision. snobbery is a defense mech more than anything else... for what... depends on the snob. so you just can't take it personally when a snob turns his nose up at something you make good use of.
posted by t r a c y at 11:45 PM on April 20, 2003

I appreciate your passion on behalf of someone else's medium.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:55 PM on April 20, 2003

t r a c y is reminding me of Dennis Leary's explanation of why the baby boomers watch so much TV..

"We saw Lee Harvey Oswald get shot live on national TV one sunday morning. Ever since then we can't shut it off. Someone would be like "hey this show sucks, change it" "Yeah, but someone might get shot during the commercial!"
posted by Space Coyote at 11:59 PM on April 20, 2003

I appreciate your passion on behalf of someone else's medium.

actually it is my medium, i make about 50% of my living from it.

dennis leary blah blah

that guy is such an asshole.
posted by t r a c y at 12:09 AM on April 21, 2003

I welcome this as an opportunity to devote more time to reading Tom Clancy novels and going to see deep, thought-provoking Hollywood movies like The Core.

People, trash is trash no matter what the medium. How about a Develop Some Taste and Stop Blindly Consuming Pop Culture Garbage Just Because It Is Popular and All Your Friends Like It week. Or maybe a When Your Were Younger Did You Ever Dream That You Would Grow Up To Be The Pathetic Type Of Person Who Actually Cared About Survivor? day.
posted by monkey.pie.baker at 12:11 AM on April 21, 2003

ok, shepd, I'll bite.
But I can't argue that there are any benefits, economic or otherwise, to examining the role of mass media in shaping our perceptions of the world. Seriously. Keep your opium, you'll be happier for it. I, on the other hand, will die sad and alone with my 6 cats and my NPR.
If you do care for an academic perspective (though it's hardly scientific) look into Baudrillard or McLuhan, and their thoughts on television.
Personally, I don't think television has to be a negative influence if you can approach it critically, which most people, I hope, do.
So, what good does turning off your tv do? Nothing specific. But I think the campaign is incredibly valuable in that it encourages people to consciously engage with television and ask themselves, "why might tv be bad?" And I think asking is enough.
posted by statisticalpurposes at 12:13 AM on April 21, 2003

The pro-TV contingent seem to be really cranky tonight. Perhaps there's nothing good on.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:16 AM on April 21, 2003

I could cite numerous examples of TV being a useful and wonderful medium, and explain for paragraphs why I won't be participating in this week (and how seriously can we take the organisation when they're paying out the wazoo for a 15-second advertising slot - on TV?), but it really boils down to one word; nay, one marvellously crafted show and its namesake: Buffy.

That's really about it for me.
posted by sammy at 12:27 AM on April 21, 2003

shepd —
I don't want an opinionated answer to that which suggests most everything on TV is trash (hint: It isn't, provoke me and I'll give proof).
Oh, damn, there goes point number one of my response. ;)

More seriously, while I can't give you a solid, scientific, or economic reason, I can give you my reasons. Take these as you wish.

I gave up on TV somewhere around ten or twelve years ago or so, I'm not really sure. Midway through season five of Star Trek: Next Generation, I think, mostly because those were the episodes that I didn't know when I picked up the DVD box sets. ;)

Subjectively, I do have a tendency to fall into the "all television is crap" crowd, even though I know that's not entirely true. There are some worthwhile shows out there — the difficulty for me was threefold. First, that the quality is far outweighed by the dreck. Secondly, the quality shows often have a tendency to get shuffled into obnoxious timeslots or just pulled off the air, because they don't get ratings as high as the shows that pander to the lowest common denominator.

Lastly, commercials drive me up the ever-loving wall. Even when I could find a show that I found worth paying some amount of attention to, I couldn't stand having to sit through advertising that was, on the whole, even more condescending than the shows I was already avoiding.

So, I gave up, and turned the TV off. Since then, I've gone through periods where I haven't owned a TV, though I generally have one around because I'm a movie fan with a decently large DVD collection. I've subscribed to cable once in the past decade — for the 2000 presidential debates — and had it disconnected soon afterwards.

The shows I've found over the years that I do want to pay attention to, usually through friends telling me about them or showing me episodes while I'm visiting, I either rent or buy on DVD once they're available. I can then watch them at my leisure, without the commercials in the way (and with better picture and sound to boot — hoo-rah for technology). For me, the whole 'TV experience' works far better this way.

Admittedly, it has amused me lately that though I choose to stay away from television, the majority of my DVD buying of late has been TV shows (Sex in the City, X-Files, Star Trek, Simpsons…). So I don't automatically eschew the content simply because it originated on television — I'm just picky about the content I choose to watch, and when/how I want to watch it.

Benefits? Well, when I'm bored, I find things other than sitting on my butt letting the lowest common denominator pander to me. I babble on my weblog far more often than I would otherwise (whether that's a benefit or not is definitely a matter of opinion...). I read more. I go wander around the city with my camera. If I'm in the mood to sit on my butt, I can either bounce around the 'net, or pop in a DVD to watch.

Another benefit, though this is extremely subjective/IMNSHO, is that I've got an attention span somewhere greater than a gnat. As the majority of my TV watching years were pre-MTV/Michael Bay, I'm quite happy with shots and/or scenes that last more than thirty seconds. While I don't want to launch into a "kids today" rant (especially at the tender age of [one week away from] 30), I do wonder about the correlation between the seemingly ever-shortening attention span of people and the hyperactive editing that is so prominent. There's probably studies debunking that theory, as well as studies supporting it — I don't really have a clue whether it's true or not, just that it seems to be true in my experience.

Anyway — whether or not this is what you were looking for, it's my little soapbox stand. ;)
posted by djwudi at 12:37 AM on April 21, 2003

>And I think asking is enough.

IMHO, it's just the start. Really, "Why might TV be bad?" is a loaded question. It asks us to make an assumption (That TV is bad) and then back up that assumption with an argument (What makes it bad).

The question really should be "Is TV bad?" but that isn't what they want you to ask. Because then you'll discover what tracy so eloquently explained: There's a big difference between the medium (TV) and the message (trash).

I put it to you that watching Ally McBeal on TV is no different than reading a Harlequin romance. Both are trash.

But, if instead you are watching Citizen Kane on TV you're enjoying the quality of message as reading Moby Dick.

It isn't TV that's bad, it's an excess of low grade entertainment that is. This should be "Trash turnoff week", not "TV turnoff week", but that wouldn't support the anti-corporate agenda vibes I'm feeling from the adbusters site in general.

Oh, and I'd like to make a rebuttal against this:

MTV saw our simple, quarter-minute clip and gave us a flat out "No." How's that for free speech from a station with attitude?

Private fictional media has no duty to free speech whatsoever. MTV has never purported to be without a slant, and, AFAIK, rarely, if ever, presents itself as a non-fiction station, or a political debate station. Why adbusters expects everyone to be such, I don't know. CNN, a station that presents non-fiction and political debate accepted the ad, which makes sense.

If I were running MTV, though, I might do an entire show debunking the whole TV Turnoff week, and play their ad during it. Let both sides in on the debate.
posted by shepd at 12:38 AM on April 21, 2003

Hrm — now that I've shot my mouth off, offering up "Sex in the City, X-Files, Star Trek, Simpsons…" as an example of the "quality" I look for was probably not the most convincing move I could have come up with. ;)

Ah, well. How about 'Walking With Dinosaurs', I've got those too! Um…crap, I've gotta have something that's actually good in here somewhere…
posted by djwudi at 12:43 AM on April 21, 2003

i've always wondered if tv ratings are affected at all during tv turnoff week. does anyone know?

either way, i'm not going without my daily simpsons rerun, so screw this.
posted by joedan at 12:47 AM on April 21, 2003

djwudi, that's a very competent argument for your point of view. Commercials certainly are annoying, and are even more so on stations which aren't free, and I can understand this as a reason to avoid TV. Also, if you feel there is little quality content on TV (which I do disagree with, but that's a subjective matter), I can see not bothering with it.

However, if this is the case, why make it a TV Turnoff week? Why not make it a "Stop buying TV if you don't enjoy it!" movement? Of course, then again, that doesn't have the same emotional response. ;-)

Emotions should be kept out of arguments and campaigns, though -- in general it's hard to predict if the public is feeling your way about an issue or not. If free-market economics can tell us anything, they're telling us that most people are enjoying what's on TV, and that commercials really aren't that bothersome for many.

Just my 2 cents.
posted by shepd at 12:48 AM on April 21, 2003

You know, although I'm likely to win few friends in this crowd for saying so, a Computer Turnoff Week (or Analog Week, maybe?) might not be a bad idea for some. I, for one, could stand to read a couple of good books, play my guitar some more, and fix and ride my bike, rather than surf the net for so much of my free time. Maybe the real benefit of these sorts of things is not so much avoidance of an inherently "evil" medium (and I'd submit that TV is more or less just another application of Sturgeon's Law), as it is the chance to shake up patterns of routine, and truly experience life.

Having said that, I rarely watch TV anyway (have I been constantly mentioning that? because I'd like to) and I'm not gonna give up the ol' PC anytime soon.
posted by arto at 1:19 AM on April 21, 2003

I hate the ads too. They don't work on me - if something needs to be advertised that much I consider that it's no good and avoid it like the plague.
I'd like to see a new way to watch TV - each season the networks put up a list of programmes, so you can choose the ones you want, download them to DVD and watch them when you want, no ads, pause to make coffee, etc.
There is some good crap on TV though, for those times when you need junk brainfood - Scrapheap Challenge, Robot Wars, What Not To Wear and, that jewel in the crown, The New Yankee Workshop. Norm is a god!
posted by tabbycat at 2:01 AM on April 21, 2003

Adbusters has totally "Jumped the Shark."
TV reference
posted by Down10 at 3:13 AM on April 21, 2003

These guys can go stick their head in a pig. i *heart* tv.
- MrLint

Amen, MrLint. I refuse to give up my news-watching obsession, or my CSI, or my L&O:CI, or my Trading Spaces.

OK, my WIFE won't give up Trading Spaces.
posted by davidmsc at 4:00 AM on April 21, 2003

like t r a c y, i make my living through teevee.

that doesn't mean i don't think tv sucks. there is a lot of crap on the air and the signal/noise ratio is unbearable.

thank god for my tivo-esque thingy from the cable company. with a billion channels on the dial, i'm watching less tv now. but what i'm watching is great.

i just hope the masses continue to watch more and more so i can continue to live comfortably. ads are good. consumption is great.
posted by birdherder at 4:02 AM on April 21, 2003

You all can take my Rockford Files on TV Land when you pry the remote from my cold, dead fingers.
posted by UncleFes at 6:44 AM on April 21, 2003

I'll take part if and only if I can have TiVo grab what I like seeing for me.
posted by riffola at 6:47 AM on April 21, 2003

This should be "Trash turnoff week", not "TV turnoff week",

And I assume you'd be in charge of determining what's "trash" right? One man's Balzac is another man's Huckleberry Hound, my friend.

Adbusters has totally "Jumped the Shark."

Tell me about it. I definitely could do with less advertising in my life, and I agree with a lot of their criticism of global capitalism, but they have yet to offer any viable alternatives.

NTM, their tone has gotten really preachy, if not downright paternalistic, especially where alcohol and tobacco are concerned as if we were all children who can't be trusted to handle our vices. If I wanted to hear that shit, I'd hang out with my mom.

dennis leary blah blah

that guy is such an asshole.

I like Denis Leary.
posted by jonmc at 6:48 AM on April 21, 2003

So I have to admit I am a reformed anti-TV snob who used to tell everybody I didn't have a TV (and I didn't). But, you know, when you want to watch TV and you fight it, it just gets old after a while. As David Foster Wallace says (in his excellent essay E Unibus Pluram), " least 51% of the time I do have fun when I watch." I could read a lot of great novels or philosophy or science, or tread through the Internet hours on end, but that's not who I am, and I got sick of trying.

I know all the reasons it is bad for us--the passive (and suggestive) mental state, the psuedohypnotic effect of staring at something without refocusing the eyes, the distorted sense of society and our relationship to it, the physical and mental isolation, the state of induced terminal dissatisfaction that makes us want to buy something (gosh, I'm starting to convince myself again...)

Not watching television does not make one better than anyone else, no matter the sense of superiority one gets by saying things like "Ozzy Osbourne has a TV show?" or "Is Gunsmoke still on the air?" On the other hand, TV does not provide so much social currency as to make it indispensable, no matter how good The Simpsons is.

I think TV Turnoff Week is generally a good idea, just to remind people that there's something else out in the world. I'll probably watch something, though, just because I've had my TV Turnoff months and years along the way, and I'm at least an active, informed viewer. (And, you know, Dance Dance Revolution is now my primary form of exercise.)
posted by troybob at 7:22 AM on April 21, 2003

The excruciating drama of Woody Austin losing to that suck
Davis.Well that's just great TV
posted by johnny7 at 7:36 AM on April 21, 2003

From Network:
"It's too late, Diana. There's nothing left in you that I can live with. You're one of Howard's humanoids. If I stay with you, I'll be destroyed. Like Howard Beale was destroyed. Like Loreena Hobbs was destroyed. Like everything that you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You're television incarnate, Diana -- indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy.

"War, murder, death -- all the same to you as bottles of beer, and the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensation of time and space into split seconds, instant replays. You're madness, Diana. Virile madness, and everything you touch dies with you. But not me. Not as long as I can feel pleasure and pain... and love."
posted by inksyndicate at 7:56 AM on April 21, 2003

Two reasons I do not watch television:

1. While watching television, your brain is in an altered state of conciousness similar to a trance state, and your metabolism is actually lower than if you were sitting and doing absolutely nothing. I believe that the large number of hours spent in front of the TV is a contributing factor in the epidemic of obesity in the US.

2. Television programming exists to sell you things. The networks derive nearly 100% of their revenue from advertising, which may seem like an obvious point, but it's something a lot of people don't think about. The average American watching TV (not Tivo) and taking in the commercials sees an estimated 450 ads a day. I don't want to be bombarded with so many messages to buy, buy, buy.

I'd rather read a book (almost any book) than watch TV (even a good program). This doesn't mean that I condemn anybody else for watching TV, just that for myself, I have chosen not to. Has nothing to do with snobbery and everything to do with quality of life.
posted by acridrabbit at 8:27 AM on April 21, 2003

Damn. They would pick the week that USA Network is showing the miniseries Helen of Troy, now, wouldn't they?

Sigh. Well, I'm told the book was better anyway.
posted by alumshubby at 8:58 AM on April 21, 2003

they can't ask me to stop watching in the middle of the best season of Six Feet Under yet!!
or if they must, they should at least wait until the NHL playoffs are over!!
posted by katy_ at 9:01 AM on April 21, 2003

Helen of Troy wasn't that great. But, now that my team is out of the playoffs, watching games might be too unbearable anyhow.
posted by adampsyche at 9:01 AM on April 21, 2003

they can't ask me to stop watching in the middle of the best season of Six Feet Under yet!!
or if they must, they should at least wait until the NHL playoffs are over
posted by katy_ at 9:05 AM on April 21, 2003

There's a big difference between the medium (TV) and the message (trash).

That's not what Marshall McLuhan said.

I'm with djwudi on this. I'm watching '24' on DVD right now, and one ironic effect of all the 'real time' clocks on the show is that it draws attention to exactly how much time I'm saving by avoiding the commercials. (And then I come here and waste that precious time online.)
posted by muckster at 9:24 AM on April 21, 2003

I like Denis Leary.

I did, too, until I discovered what a shameful ripoff he was of the true master.

Back on topic, have a tv, only use it for games and movies. This is mostly for my own protection, of course - I'd really like to get the whole cable/tivo thing going, but then I'm pretty sure that my life would be over as sure as if I'd had a morphine drip installed.
posted by majcher at 9:26 AM on April 21, 2003

I did, too, until I discovered what a shameful ripoff he was of the true master.

Maybe. But Hicks was bit too pleased with himself, not to mention preachy for my taste. He was funny, but too often his performances seemed (to me at least) like him and the audience getting together to congratualte themselves on how cool and enlightened they were.

and here's the true master...
posted by jonmc at 9:38 AM on April 21, 2003

There's a big difference between the medium (TV) and the message (trash).... It isn't TV that's bad, it's an excess of low grade entertainment that is. This should be "Trash turnoff week", not "TV turnoff week", but that wouldn't support the anti-corporate agenda vibes I'm feeling from the adbusters site in general.

I see where you're coming from, but my entire point in hauling out those theorists was that the medium is a lot more influential than you might think. I side with McLu and Baudy in thinking that tv has a unique way of disseminating information. If that information is benign trash, like the content of a romance novel, I have no problem with that -- and I'll note that I object to your proposed "trash turnoff" -- but tv is not just benign content. I think ads have tremendous power over us if we allow ourselves to passively watch them. And, hey, look, I have some science for you! -- psychological studies on mere-exposure effect, subliminal processing (all things that only work if you're not aware of them consciously) and many others have convinced me that gazing at a box involves more than just directly processing content. With tv especially, the content of ads can influence you without your consent. The point raised that tv is there to sell ads is vital; advertisers wouldn't spend millions of dollars on them if they didn't work. However, if you have no qualms with whatever "corporate agenda" you're fed -- one dish detergent is the same as the other, after all -- then there's little reason to question tv. But I think "corporate agendas" are more subversive than choosing one product over another, but that they push a consumer-lifestyle that I don't like. Do I really need inherently useless things like diamonds or a new wardrobe to be happy? I'm going to go with no.
posted by statisticalpurposes at 9:40 AM on April 21, 2003

> The pro-TV contingent seem to be really cranky tonight
> I like Denis Leary.

*Watching Tracy's little Dennis Leary joke fly over people's heads*
posted by zarah at 10:00 AM on April 21, 2003

jonmc, I wouldn't tell people what's trash, except for what my opinion is, which I don't expect them to totally understand. I'd just ask people to evaluate what their current intake of media is, and to re-assess its value to them.

acidrabbit, I wouldn't be surprised if #1 occurred during any passive activity that people enjoyed. What is the result of someone watching a less-than-exciting act in their favourite play? I bet it would be the same.

#2 isn't true for everything. Let's talk PBS, HBO, ShowTime, et al. here.

Unlike TV, I find it rare to buy a book that doesn't have some form of advertising in it nowadays, so advertising isn't a good argument if you're going to suggest reading books over watching TV.

statisticalpurpose>I think ads have tremendous power over us if we allow ourselves to passively watch them.

I agree. However, a person who chooses to pollute their mind with trash isn't going to be helped by getting it in another form for a week, IMHO. Not that all ads are trash, though...

>But I think "corporate agendas" are more subversive than choosing one product over another, but that they push a consumer-lifestyle that I don't like.

Those of us running businesses (myself) disagree. The more you buy the more I can buy, the more I can buy the more the economy moves. The more the economy moves the better _your_ life becomes. If what you buy is only somewhat useful to you, you still contribute to the economy, which is good, IMHO.

But you sorta prove what I'm saying -- this isn't an anti-TV campaign, really. It's a thinly veiled anti-corporate agenda, and I really distrust people who have to hide their true colours behind good intentions. You seem to as well, considering your distrust of advertising.
posted by shepd at 10:04 AM on April 21, 2003

I'm with Shane and Sammy on this one. Miss the Buffy countdown? Not for nothing.

The best season yet of Six Feet Under? Just as soon as that intensely annoying Lili Taylor gets off the show and Nate gets back with the woman we all love best.

While we're on the topic of television, if you want a True Master, try the real thing.

Sitcoms and reality TV suck. Movies and the occasional brilliance on the order of Twin Peaks redeem TV. It's all about balance.
posted by divrsional at 10:16 AM on April 21, 2003

brenda will be back before you know it :)
posted by katy_ at 11:11 AM on April 21, 2003

The best firms advertise the least
posted by shabrem at 11:28 AM on April 21, 2003

When I was a kid, my parents always used to do the "Turn Off TV Week" thing with me. Although, there wasn't a hell of a lot to turn on (we had about 6 channels, and no cable), I'd still get a little upset about it.

Not because I missed the act of watching tv (maybe I did a little, but that wasn't the main reason), but because of the party line that went along with it. TV "rots your brain, and there is nothing you can do about it, short of never watching it again", seemed so self-righteous to me. But that's the response I essentially got from both my parents.

Fast forward 8 to 10 years. My once very, very anti-TV parents, who used to only own one small 13 inch TV with rabbit ears, so that my dad could watch Red Sox games, now own three TVs, have over 150 channels coming over the satellite in every room, not to mention the modified Tivo that has 180 hours of recording capacity. My point is, is they gave up the anti-tv party line, because it just isn't true.

TV has a lot of crap, but that's true of any medium. There are tons of crappy books, movies, music, theater, art... whatever you choose to look for. Damming an entire medium of communication and entertainment because sometimes it can be used in an insipid way is silly. That's like refusing to use a telephone because you don't like telemarketers.

What's so wrong with coming home after work and catching last night's Daily Show and an old episode of Sinefeld? It's not going to rot your brain, and it's not going to kill you.

Television programming exists to sell you things. The networks derive nearly 100% of their revenue from advertising, which may seem like an obvious point, but it's something a lot of people don't think about. The average American watching TV (not Tivo) and taking in the commercials sees an estimated 450 ads a day. I don't want to be bombarded with so many messages to buy, buy, buy.

It's as if they tell you to buy something, and you have to, right? Come on. If you can't parse though advertising and take it for what it is, than TV isn't your biggest problem. Personally, I can watch a television commericial and appreciate it for exactly what it is - someone trying their best to sell something to me - without becoming a slave to Ogilvy & Mather.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:18 PM on April 21, 2003

The best season yet of Six Feet Under? Just as soon as that intensely annoying Lili Taylor gets off the show and Nate gets back with the woman we all love best.
nobody disses lili taylor in front of me and gets away with it. true, six feet under isn't her best work, but come on -- the woman was in both dogfight and i shot andy warhol, and has done some amazing work. you wanna take this outside? :)
posted by pxe2000 at 1:07 PM on April 21, 2003

My fiancee was in Dogfight! She was, ah, one of the dogs, truth be told. They uglified her, okay?


Carry on. TV = bad, unless it's not.
posted by Skot at 1:13 PM on April 21, 2003

Ah, but is tv a good value for the money? I quit when I discovered $40+/month for the Discovery channel isn't a much of a deal.

Could there come a day when one can pay only for the shows one watches? And could that fee be reduced by ad revenue? Could TiVo help? (Pardon if that's a clueless question--I've been tv-free for too long to know.)(Advertisers and cable companies are Getting Over at the viewers' expense, in my uneducated opinion.)
posted by win_k at 3:14 PM on April 21, 2003

I don't know -- I'm semi-anti-TV in that I dislike people who sit around with the TV on all day, or people who stick their kids in front of it all the time, etc. But on the other hand, a couple good shows before going to bed isn't bad. I don't think it's anywhere close to a "trance-like state" as evidenced by it being a more social activity than most -- well, at least, more social than my and my roommate's other activities, reading and doing our own stuff on our computers. Though occasionally we share a bit of a weblog post or a book, it's just not quite the same.

Television: it's a great way to bond with roommates.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:26 AM on April 22, 2003

wow, i missed out on the conversation while I was do other things.

does shepd work in a tv relaetd field? i don't get why he's so pro-television, or is it just that he is anti-anti-television? Seriously, I've never seen anyone care that much about TV. and really, that's my reason for not watching, I don't care enough about it dedicate the time to it. I can get news elsewhere, and I, frankly, am just not entertained by tv. John Stewart and Adult Swim cartoons being pretty much the only exceptions, but I download all the Sealab 2021 I need anyway. It's a frank case of it not holding my attention. If there was something there I would want to watch, i would, but this season? yeesh.
posted by Hackworth at 12:58 PM on April 27, 2003

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