Aug 13, 2020

Criticism aimed at television is unfair


That’s a slogan the ABC network used for an ad campaign about 10 years ago. I remember this because I watched a lot of television growing up.

I still do. And I wholeheartedly agree with this assertion.

I’m tired of people bashing television and warning about the negative side effects of too much TV: it makes kids lazy, the violence depicted in certain shows desensitizes us and turns our brains to mush.

But really, TV does us more good than harm.

Television can provide an escape after a stressful day of school or work. We can temporarily be in someone else’s world and we don’t have to think about our own problems for an hour or two.

It’s entertainment. It’s dy-no-mite! (Quick, what show is that a reference to?)

However, television has a more positive influence than we sometimes give it credit for.

Most of us don’t sit in front of a TV and ingest the program passively, as is commonly believed. We do internalize the images we see.

Just because a person watches a lot of television doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is a mindless drone. On the contrary, I find that some shows make me think, namely about societal and cultural issues.

There are lessons that can be learned, even from shows you may initially dismiss as shallow and pointless.

“My Name is Earl� teaches us to treat people fairly and to do nice things for others, and try to repair damaged relationships.

Reality shows like “Wife Swap� show us the ways families interact with each other, and how they attempt to get along. I’ll admit, the premise of this show is repetitive. Usually a politically liberal family switches moms with a religious, conservative family and chaos ensues.

But, even if the contestants can’t solve things, the viewer at home can see their faults and possibly make connections to their own life.

Even the seemingly sappy “Gilmore Girls� explores mother-daughter relationships that reflect those that many women find themselves in.

That we watch the same shows gives us something in common. The other week, I was talking to my cousin about the latest episode of “House, M.D.� A friend with us (shockingly) said that she had never seen the show.

So, we proceeded to explain it to her, “There’s this doctor, and he’s a real jerk to everyone…oh yeah, and he’s addicted to painkillers.�

A girl sitting nearby jumped into our conversation to share her take on the show.

There we were, some friends, some strangers, all talking amicably. And it was television that united us.

Some critics will say that there is too much graphic violence on TV, and that even on the news, we don’t need to see images of war and death depicted on our screens. I disagree. If it’s real, we need to see it, especially images of war.

Just because it’s not happening in our front yard (and often it is) we still can’t ignore it or pretend it’s not happening at all.
Television helps us understand what is happening in other places as well, overseas and in other countries. Awareness of the world is something we can all benefit from, in this increasingly egocentric society.

Where else can we witness both the best and worst of humanity in one place? And so conveniently, in your own living room.

Frankly, television is nothing short of a miracle in a box.

People who don’t own television sets or claim they don’t watch TV are being elitists.

There really is something for everyone, if you look closely enough. There are plenty of educational and informative programs.

Like most things, television should be taken in moderation. Keeping a healthy detachment from these shows is recommended.

Exercise your intellect; remember that you have homework to do. It doesn’t make sense to forsake that for TV.

That being said, National TV Turnoff Week is coming up April 23-29. I say boycott it. Celebrate your television.

Watch an episode of “Heroes� instead.

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