Calvin: It says here that “religion is the opiate of the masses.” What do you suppose that means?
TV: It means Karl Marx hadn’t seen anything yet.
This Friday I was again reclined with a needle in my arm, as I have been regularly since high school. Although I can’t say that I have given blood every eight weeks since then, I have done my best to do so. Generally, it’s not a big deal–we all give what we can, and I can easily spare a pint–at times, however, it becomes a harrowing ordeal, as it did on Friday.
Friday was likely the first time that I’d been tempted to rip the needle out of my arm and stab someone with it. I restrained myself because it would have been to no avail–the people I wanted to stab were the hollow heads and screaming teeth who pass themselves off as journalists on Fox News. After years of avoiding the unfair and unbalanced network, someone found a way to make me a captive audience of it–pin me down.
What I saw made me realize why so many Americans have forgotten that we’re at war, or that an unbalanced dictator has built several nuclear warheads within easy range of thousands of American military personnel, or that millions of working Americans are still internally displaced refugees as a result of Shrub’s failure to respond to a catastrophic natural disaster. What Americans who watch Fox can’t forget is that there are white women in trouble, like Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears. In fact, Fox must have a There are White Women in Trouble bureau working on these stories, which explains why they don’t have any money to spend on fluff pieces like war, nuclear war, or natural disasters. Screw the humanity, Blondie’s lost in Aruba!
The TWWIT bureau appears to have money for an army of well-dressed pundits with obscured credibility. One member of their army of suits–legal experts who looked more like screaming paralegals dropped onto the set of L.A. Law than lawyers–stated that Smith was the goose who laid the golden egg and that the egg was her son. That has to be about the most fair and balanced way I can think of to describe both childbirth and the straits that a child finds himself in shortly after the death of his mother. All I could think is that this kid needs King Solomon and he got Uncurious George.
I don’t mean to belittle the crises that Smith, Spears, Holloway, et al. are forced to confront, but a national news organization should spend more time on events that affect the course of history or the success or demise of their own nation than they do chasing hearses and rubbing elbows with the paparazzi. These days, however, I can’t name one news outlet that does. The media, particularly the visual media, has the power to focus public attention and deliver a large volume of information with startling efficiency and effect, which is a great power, especially when so many of us seem to have little time for gathering and parsing information on the larger issues of our day.
And if the media attempts to claim that they don’t have an effect on their viewers, I’d ask them to explain why companies are willing to spend millions per minute for advertising time on TV if those ads will have no effect on their viewers.
So when TV media outlets fritter away their days on petty dramas and fear mongering and ignore the tremendous and terrifying sacrifices that thousands make, they promote the superficial over the meaningful, they promote the selfish individual over the collective good, and they are helping to develop a culture that is, for example, less concerned with the intellect or character of women than it is about their skin color and weight. And perhaps this is why, now that Mama and I are considering giving up our satellite dish, relying on the ‘net and Netflix for our video entertainment, that I don’t feel like I’m going to miss anything. Or maybe the reason is that it’s likely better that 3B grows up without this influence. Or maybe the reason is that, because for the last seven months, we haven’t had time to watch any TV.
We’ve given ourselves until Friday to think about it, but if we can’t come up with a compelling reason to hang on to our dish by then, we’re cutting the cord. What about you? What do you do for your video fix? And is there a downside to us killing our television?
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