Wednesday, February 08, 2006

TV Potential?

So, dear friends, I was thinking on/about television today--good points and bad points to the good ol’ tube--and I was wondering if there was any way to salvage TV. Here is the thing, even if you hate TV, if you support everyone throwing their TV out; the fact is TV seems to be here to stay. So, what do we do? TV could have the potential of offering a good message, just as it has offered a bad message. I am not talking about religious programming or the like, but I am suggesting that a type programming could educate folks and get them to communicate and, one could hope, participate in community. Yes, I do see the obvious problem of how the TV does not encourage interaction but separation. We sit on our collective asses; don’t talk to our family members and “veg out.” But does this need to be the case? Could TV be used to motivate, educate and encourage interaction? I ask this because I truly believe, as I said before, that TV is not going away any time soon, and seeing how so many folks spends so much time just taking in the TV, couldn’t there be a way to make the TV a force for good? I think I have a good guess how some of you might react to this suggestion. I happen to know some of you don’t have cable and do not utilize the TV at all. I think this is great, but you are a small portion of the population and the idea is to reach the larger population without creating popcorn eating, ez-boy laying, zombies. Next problem---sponsors. So, let’s say that collectively we come up with a great idea for innovative programming that will help change and challenge people’s minds. So, this miracle has happened and now we have to deal with sponsors, those people who threaten to take away their monies whenever they fear that their larger bottom line will be harmed. There has been good programming in the past, but I have noticed that nine times out of ten these programs are immediately taken off the air because people protest to the sponsors and then they threaten to withdraw their support unless the program is withdrawn. This is a huge problem. How do we get around this? Do we totally avoid network programming and go cable, or is there another solution? With all the hours we log in front of the TV, it seems to me that we must look at the TV if we are to consider changing the status quo. After all, as Bill McKibben points out in the good, readable, and critical book “The Age of Missing Information”:
“But TV is cumulative, and over a lifetime ten minutes here and there of watching fishing or car racing or Divorce Court has added up to a lot of hours and had a certain effect on all of us.”
Shouldn’t we be in charge of this effect?

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