4 users responded " Should I be ashamed to like TV? "

"Should I be ashamed to like TV?" was posted by and 4 users commented
Rich Sacco said,         
June 10 2010

I agree that there are “smart” shows and “stupid” books, but this says something of their content, not the medium itself.

Why film gets a pass on this is beyond me, but I for one, look at film as an art form, as many do, and as there is bad art, there is also bad films; TV on the other hand may get its “ugly little step-sister” label because it seems common, very accessible, it seems as though television shows are produced like wigets on a production line to be sold at Wal-Mart at reduced cost, so the perception is lower value…

As far as TV being a “stupid” medium, I will have to agree with that. The reason for this is simply put: when you watch a television program your brain is not engaged, it is a passive experience, where reading, on the other hand, is something you HAVE to engage in, you MUST use your cognitive functions otherwise the experience is wothless. To read one must comprehend, as well as remember, without aid of visual ques in the form of pictures. There is alot going on there, and that is why most people would prefer to watch an educational program as opposed to reading about a particular subject. The rest is just fun entertainment.

I personally only watch TV when I’m ready to sleep, it seems to make my brain numb and thoughtless… Reading, I like to be alert and ready… But that is just me, am I on to something, that’s for everyone else to decide…


Kevin 251 said,         
June 10 2010

Yeah, there’s good TV and bad TV — just as there’s good and bad in every other medium. As you know, I too appreciate the wonderfully dopey sitcoms of the 70s and 80s. (Maybe today’s kids will have some nostalgic appreciation of today’s stupider shows.)

Another Northern Exposure fan! Cool. I introduced it to Felicity, and we watched the whole series a couple of years ago.

A few more examples of excellent TV: Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, and Arrested Development. If you haven’t seen them yet, I recommend them highly.

Of course, I also recommend Facts of Life — especially the dreadful later seasons — so you may want to seek other opinions…

Sarah said,         
June 11 2010

@Rich– Yes, you articulated it better than I did about the content rather than the medium. I think what I mean is that people tend to think of TV having “stupid” content and books having “smart” content. The medium itself seems to determine how people think of it.
As to widgets, I bet House costs a lot to produce! OK, yes, TV is more accessible and democratic, which may explain its “stupid” connotations.
I forgot to put down a) that The Colbert Report makes my list of favorite shows (Colbert wouldn’t like that I forgot that!) and b) that HBO’s slogan, “It’s not TV; it’s HBO” proves my point about TV being a disparaged medium.
TV is more passive than books, true; at least, it is much more likely to be. Still, why don’t people regard movies as passive as TV when either way you’re sitting there, watching? If I were to call myself a film buff, that has a much higher status than if I were to call myself a couch (or mouse) potato.
Is it because watching TV is so totally passive that makes it so darn fun? If so, how can we explain video games?

Bob said,         
June 14 2010

Well, this is a subject that could use a lot of active thought. I think Sarah and Rich have touched on some important points.

Rather than “fun”, I would say that TV has an addictive quality to it. Your mileage may vary, but my honest answer is that I watch too much when given the opportunity. Lots of people say that they don’t have any time, but is that really true?

Overall, I’m usually disappointed about educational or intellectual content. One of the irritating points about “educational” shows of the sort that appears on the History channel is that they tend to drag out content. The signal to noise (or rather “visual splash”) is very low. But then again, there are some very well produced educational shows. So I don’t think it’s all bad.

I watch House because I find it entertaining. But there always has to be a “but”… http://www.politedissent.com/house_pd.html

I’ve called television sets “worship boxes”. That may be too cranky for your tastes, but you’ve both agreed on the passive nature of our minds with respect to this medium.

An important thing to remember about any show on commercial TV is that it has commercials. The purpose behind any show — whether it intends to tell us the news, or educate us, or entertain us — is that it is meant to sell us beer and shampoo.

Although I haven’t praised TV, I don’t mean to damn it either. I think there is a better question than whether we’re ashamed of TV. I think it’s better to intelligently evaluate whether it’s a good use of our time. An honest dialog might help in that evaluation.

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