My father wholeheartedly disapproved of television. I was that kid not allowed to sit in front of what he described as the “boob tube.” While all the kids on the block watched TV for hours, my father had other plans for me.
On occasion I was permitted to watch Lassie, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, and, thrill of thrills, The David Frost Show, where I was injected with a strange satirical combination of the Huntley-Brinkey Newshour, the Colbert Report, and Inside the Actors Studio at far too tender an age. My father had a snickering, dark sense of humor. A Snideley Whiplash. I suppose he wanted to make sure I never took American politics too seriously and could think for myself. Thanks Dad. I don’t and I do.
If my father returned home from work or one of his many travels circumventing the globe in the name of American freedom and I was in front of the "boob tube" with my nose nearly pressed against it, I was in for a diatribe from hell.
He would rattle off the multitude of things I could or should be doing instead. Reading was always first on the list. Cleaning my room or helping Mom with dishes came a close second. “Aren’t there some weeds that need pulling?” he’d ask. When he would run out of things for me to do, he would instruct me to go and study a map and then quiz me on it. To this day I am obsessed with maps and even instructed my daughter when she was small to do likewise. Once again, thanks Dad.
He did make a lasting impression on me however and I did become aware of the hours “frittered and wasted in an off hand way” by watching television. It is something I rarely if ever do.
Television programming has been disguised as a massive advertising monopoly that hides its sinister plot to have an entire nation stupefied. It is no accident that it does not offer a myriad of high-quality viewing choices. Housewives from the city and redundant reality shows about nothing or about something incredibly dumb are droning out the mindful thinking processes that would normally occur in a human being not blasted with blather. Our youth are being culturally stunted by learning of the world in this manner, and further, they represent a lucrative market that frames the future of our social culture. TV's only accomplishment is aiding in consumerism and the homogenization of the people. Whether or not we perceive ourselves as pluralists, the end result of television and broadcasting in general, is to create mass uniformity. Frankly, I’m frightened.