On Max's Small Screen...
Max has been sketching monsters on the Magna Doodle.
Janece and I were talking about television... I have cable. She has Netflix. I have Netflix too, but I also have 300-400-500 channels and three remotes. I grew up with the *Unplug Your Television Campaign,* and I totally subscribe to the idea that television desiccates brain juices, but Oh, it feels so good! Every time I become appalled by 1. The violence 2. The Expense and/or 3. The shocking number of hours wasted, I determine to QUIT. I determine to cutback to whatever signal I can pick up from the ether. No more CBS “Sunday Morning.” No more PBS ”Nature.” No more “NOVA,” “Masterpiece Theater,” “California’s Gold.” No more “Pimp My Ride” or “Malcom in The Middle…” Oh my God. Can you believe how much television I watch, or think about watching? And, truthfully, I have not fully disclosed all my guilty pleasures. Couldn’t miss the Oscars, love to catch Oprah, you know I like Noggin, and I bounce between all three network morning shows to catch the news.
In 2001, when ABC aired “The Charlie Brown Christmas” special and kept showing “Alias” promos during commercial breaks, my poor children asked whether we were having more terrorist attacks. I was ready to quit then. Gratuitous violence, particularly during programming for children really pisses me off. I wrote a letter to every company that advertised during that program and to ABC. I never heard anything back, and that pissed me off too.
Why can’t we watch more programming and stations for less money? Why aren’t we allowed to choose between cable companies, or have some other service all together? Isn’t there enough money from the advertising to cover the expense of broadcasting? The expense, every month, definitely makes me want to quit cable for good.
I love media. I love pictures and music and stories. I love comedies and names, faces, ideas, science, nature in Africa or Antarctica. I love cuddling in front of the glowing box that makes no demands of me; it just gives and gives and gives. I am weak, and I know I should quit watching when I think of all I could accomplish if I applied television time to weightlifting, novel writing, ironing, hiking, skiing, world travel. Ya. Right. Be real. No, I can’t quit. I will cutback. No more surfing, except when Geoff works late, the kids are sleeping and I feel too beat to lift anything heavier than my universal remote. No more “Charlie Brown Christmas.” And after every carefully chosen hour of TV, the children and I will share a dynamic discourse, analyzing and reflecting on what we have witnessed, followed by a brisk jog through the park and a knitting lesson.
It’s interesting to realize how apologetic I feel, how embarrassed. I’m even thinking up little justifications for why it’s okay to be a TV junkie: There are worse habits, it’s educational, I’m lonely, tired… I suppose if I were really comfortable with my viewing habits I wouldn’t be debating with myself, so I guess it’s good to think about it and to remind myself about moderation. Moderation is good.