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Rant. Muse. Eat. Sleep. Recycle.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Four and half hours of oblivion

Newsday just published a story, based on Nielsen studies, that shows the average American watches 4.5 hours of television every day. Here is the link to the story:
http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/bal-te.tv30sep30,0,5774083.story?coll=ny-entertainment-headlines .

That is 4.5 hours of Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel, Friends re-runs and hundreds of commercials. Just a crazy balloon I'm floating out there, but we devote much more time to television -- based on the average American's level of education (High School with Some College) -- than we do for formal education. By the time they're 18, our young people have PhDs in television watching.

I'm absolutely not immune to this Great Wasteland trap, but I've got to believe anything that draws such a universal response has the potential to be doctored. The lure is too great for those who wield power. If everyone ate French toast every morning, wouldn't there be some federal mystery man who shows up at the grain or syrup factory one day speaking in reasonable tones about "national security"?

We can't count on television to be as pure as our water (OK, I know about the fluouride scam, but I needed an analogy). Television has been visibly adulterated. For example, it's been established that commercials are losing their hold on the typical viewer. Whether through TiVo or personal habit, we are able to bypass commercials routinely. So, what have advertisers done? They've insinuated their products into the programs themselves... take that you commercial shirking bastards!

My point is television has a proven history as a mind controlling medium and even when viewers think they've made themselves immune to it (ala ditching commercials), they're deluding themselves.

Extrapolating a little further, what needs could television programming fill for an entity that wants to make sure it has a pliant audience? Apathy is easy. Some researchers indicate that a person's brainwaves when watching TV are less active than when that person is asleep. What about futility? That could come in handy around election season (and, why couldn't Fred Sanford ever catch a break?) How about envy? Fits pretty well into "class warfare" rhetoric.

I know it's hard to be wary of everything in one's life -- what DOESN'T cause cancer? -- but I'm of the mind that big changes are a'coming. And, to borrow a line from some patriotic homily: eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. What has television dulled our senses, to? Hmmmm... let's talk about, oh, off the top of my head... oil.

We are now predicted to be about 20 years from peak production for the world's oil. In fact, for the first time in history a year went by with no new major oil field discoveries. And, the 20-year estimate did not factor in a very energy-hungry China. What that means is the things we have taken for granted -- a cheap drive to work, a relatively affordable mode of transportation, have to be rethought. If clear minds were at the helm, they would understand that such a sea change of the national quality of life should be approached with a cohesive optimism. Robber Republicans and Robber Democrats (sorry, couldn't resist the slam) would have to be arm-in-arm because running out of oil presents a threat to the established progression of American society. Put simply, a single political party strong-arming the opposition will leave the nation fractured when it's time to deal with the question of no more oil. The precedent set will be one of the Bushies lying and grabbing all they can get away with. And, resistance from a sizeable minority will be the order of the day. I mean, right at this second, if Bush told me to buy an electric car, I'd wonder what electric car company he bought stock in. But, as far as I can see, there is no grand plan for alternative energy or even a particularly cohesive energy conservation plan. There is more of the same as we rush headlong into a future we KNOW is coming, but our government isn't preparing for.

It's an ugly thing to contemplate... I think I better end this. Family Guy is on.

link | posted by Jae at 9:13 PM |


Blogger Renegade Eye commented at 10:50 PM~  

My television's picture tube died. Television is used to structure activities, as going to bed after the commercial. Television provides an accurate clock.

It keeps people apart. It is a solitary activity. The plots are overall self centered and individualistic. Problems are not solved collectively.

You rely on hacks like Tim Russert, to evaluate world events. TV pundits use at best the pro wrestling model. News is entertainment.

As for me; give me Law and Order SVU.

I put up a link to your blog at mine.

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