I just got done reading a new blog post by Baker on Man vs. Debt – 11 Reasons to Ditch Your Television. Baker brings up some really great points. I particularlly like number 10 – Prevent Zombie Kids. Whenever I’m at friend’s houses with multiple kids running around, it amazes me what happens when the TV lights up. Turn on an old Bugs Bunny cartoon or Dora The Explorer and the kids will beeline to that small worn out area of carpet in front of the Radiation King to gaze with nary a blink.
Scary the first time I saw it. But it gives the parents at least a few minutes to relax so I can’t really blame them. In the words of Bart Simpson to his dad Homer, “but it’s done such a better job of raising us than you.” Oops, I quoted a TV show. So this is how TV does it…
But like all blog posts, the best part is the comments. Obviously many people agreed with Baker’s assessment of ditching the TV, as it jives very well with the concept of his blog. But some brought up further points. One reader said the problem isn’t TV or the time spent watching TV, it’s screen time. It’s all the devices that we look at throughout the day. Like many things, The Onion satarizes this concept the best:
Including work, which for me entails looking at monitors connected to servers, my laptop, the grading monitor in the color correction suite, the 5 or 8 inch monitor on the top of whatever camera I’m using, etc; this easily adds up to, well maybe not 90%, but it certainly feels like it. Baker talked about how the TV was the default entertainment option in his house and was always on. I don’t own a TV. Amazing, I know. But my laptop, 24″ screen, and the internet has recently become the default option. Hell, I’ve been home from work for a few hours and all I’ve done is check my RSS feed, read Baker’s post and write on my blog.
Like many Gen Xers, I grew up watching television. I remember getting up at 6 in the morning to watch Babar on HBO, or Saturday morning cartoons. I remember times when we would stay at my grandparents house and I would get up early to watch cartoons and my grandma would be up already because it was the only time she had to herself to read. I’ve since re-learned how precious this early morning time can be.
Ok, reading. Many people argue that you should ditch your television because it’s rotting your mind and something like reading would be a better use of your time. Reading? Books are a vehicle for disseminating information, whether for entertainment or education. Many consider writing to be an art form. Anyone reading this blog will probably differ with that opinion as I’m not exactly the Bard. But most readers of this blog will also agree that television, cinema and all other visual media are art forms too. One person can lose themselves in a good book the same way another can lose themselves in a Scrubs marathon. I see something like The Office and revel in its writing, improv, and single camera reality shooting style. Someone else will look at The Office and claim it’s drivel and be even happier that they ditched their TV. Saying television is inferior to higher things like reading is disingenuous. Television has the ability to be as high an art form as any. Television today is what books were centuries ago. Looking at it that way, TV as a medium is still very young. But as with any other art form, content is king. It’s not the TV, it’s what’s on. Are comic books an art form?
TV is not the problem.
If I didn’t watch TV as a child, there’s no way I would be working in Digital Cinema today. Simple. If I didn’t buy a laserdisc player in middle school and absorb every film with a commentary track that I could, I wouldn’t be working with some of the greatest producers in cinema and television now. But I didn’t watch TV or movies all the time. I also studied (too much), played sports, played music, rode bikes, did whatever kids did growing up. If I spent more time reading, would I have become a writer? A better person?? I don’t know. But I had all these options, including the option of watching TV. My parents also did a good job of showing me what else was out there besides TV. And this is my point. TV is not the problem. The real question is how do we spend our time? If you ditch your TV, yes, it will open up time that you didn’t know you had. If you currently watch only an hour of TV a week though, ditching your TV won’t do much. But how else do you spend your time? Are you glued to your computer? Are you surfing the internet just because you’re bored? Then maybe ditching your computer would bring more joy and more free time to your life than tossing your TV? Wait, you can’t live without your computer? Then TV might not be the problem. Maybe your computer is. How much idle time are you wasting online?
But for me, I need to watch television. The production work I do depends on it. I need to see what everyone else in my industry is doing. But I’ve cut the cable cord and only go with stuff I can get online or through Netflix. Watching something is now a conscious choice and not mindless channel surfing. So, more indie flicks and less Jersey Shore.
Going back to Baker’s post, specifically, number 11 – TV as a social opportunity. I love this point. He talks about events that are created around television, like getting together to watch football – the Packers beating the Vikings at Lambeau last night (yeah!), or watching a season finale (we drank Dharma Beer at my house for the series finale of LOST), watching the Presidential Debates, etc. This last weekend was the premiere of TGR’s Deeper with Jeremy Jones here in Jackson Hole. TGR also releases their films on DVD and digital download, but there’s nothing cooler than going to a premiere. Especially the ski and snowboard film premieres that create a whole event around the film. You can’t really do this with a book premiere.
It’s not television, it’s how we choose to spend our time. Baker talks about television becoming the default. I think the greater goal is to never have a default. For some people, kicking the TV to the curb helps. Out of sight, out of mind. If theres no junk food in the cupboard, you won’t eat it. For me, it means some nights I play drums, other nights I work on my blog, and other nights I hang out with friends. If none of these, then I’ll catch an episode of 30 Rock on Hulu. Cutting the cable cord has helped, but would I ever fully ditch TV?