The last six and a half years have been interesting. Without television, I didn't realize what I had been missing. When my now ex-wife and I broke up, I did not bother to try and receive tv stations again- nor did I ever make it a priority to try and afford cable or satellite. I not only favored the idea of saving money, I simply was content to enjoy music, reading, exploring rivers and lakes, and of course dating whenever possible. I got on the internet frequently as well. Looking up bigfoot sightings and reading archaeological treatises were much more interesting than any tv I had ever watched.
Unfortunately, I grew up watching it, wasting a large part of my youth fixed to the tube. My whole family did; it was our entertainment/family time. I also watched it along with the now-ex. When younger, I used to love shows like Project Blue Book, Dragnet, Combat!, old Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Night Heat, and Incredible Hulk. In later years, I liked watching the new Outer Limits, Star Trek TNG, Passions (i hate soaps, but this one is hilarious), and Frontline. Also of interest were two sports: women's college volleyball and professional cheerleading. When I got my own place though, I just figured I had better ways to spend my time than obsess over tv shows. My gf's accepted it with little qualms.
But now, someone has given us an extra, brand new unopened digital converter box. After hooking it up and receiving a dismal one channel from it, I attached a rabbit ear set to it. (This was a challenge, as it seems that no store sells 300-75 ohm adapters anymore. I had to find a 75-300 ohm adapter at a thrift store and hook it up backwards. Now we get three channels).
The first thing I noticed was the amazing volume of advertisements. How can people stand to watch a show for five minutes, then wait through a few minutes of ridiculous ads, then five of the show, and so on- for a half an hour? Watching one or two hour shows like this is unimaginable to me. Cutting in every few minutes is such a plot ruiner and action slower. Do people get up and wander their homes when these ads come on, every five minutes or so, or do they actually sit there and watch them all? Either sounds tortuous to me.
I also took note of the mundanity of the programming. Same old themes- different titles: Sitcoms. Doctor shows. Lawyer shows. Cop shows. Talent shows. Ad nauseum... One talent show said that Vince Neil was going to be on it, so I waited through all the ads and buildup for nearly an hour. It was the least I could do since he gave me such great masterpieces as Looks That Kill, Knock 'em Dead Kid, Home Sweet Home, Kickstart my Heart, and of course Shout at the Devil. He finally arrived in a rink with his partner- a "professional ice dancer", who looked more like a professional lap dancer to me (that is not a complaint, by the way).
A few days later, while flipping through the three channel cornucopia, there was 20/20. I used to watch that weekly when I was a teen. It was one of the better news shows, usually. So we stopped the surf and watched it. There was an outrageous report going that sickened me. Why do people watch news shows? Maybe so they can learn disturbing things like this:
A lady's toddler drowns in a backyard pool. The prosecutor takes away her other kid- a six year old boy- and got him to say the mom drowned his sister. By trial, the kid changed his story 13 times on the stand and couldn't even recognize his mom sitting in the room. Before conviction, he was already taken away by the state and adopted to new parents permanently. Before conviction. In the end she was convicted based upon her son's ever-changing tale. Life with no parole for her.
News shows are such a joy to watch.
The thing that really got me though about modern tv, was the digitizing of it. When the govt. forced digitalization of it a while back, I read all about it on the net. It was bemoaned by many as a mega-colossal waste of money: up to 10.6 billion bucks!. Why would the feds blow all that money to make us have digital tv? It better be good, I thought. It is not. At all. In the old days- back when I used to watch it- if the signal was weak or a plane flew over, there was a thunderstorm, whatever- the picture got a little fuzzy. It was still watchable. Now, whenever the signal gets low at all, it simply cuts out. The picture stops or goes away completely. It sucks. This is what the feds spent billions on- so we could all put up with our shows cutting out every whipstitch?
A much better way to spend that money would have been to leave tv alone, and then fund the distribution of wireless internet receivers to every home in the country. If everyone had free internet access, then they would have been much happier than just getting shitty tv reception for the same price. Of course this is the federal gov we are talking about here. Even though tv makes the populace stupid and internet can make them smarter, I am sure this factor is a mere side effect. The feds simply acted stupidly and wasted money, like they always do. One cannot help but wonder what boondoggle waits around the next corner of the unfolding economic collapse. Perhaps all tv's with glass screens will be replaced with LCD and plasma units, at govt. expense.
In the meantime, I plan to read in another room when someone else turns a tv on.
(c) james platt
(c) james platt