The Boob Tube and the Long and Whiney Road

When I was 8 or 9ish we didn’t have a TV yet. This was back when the dinosaurs roamed. I went to a girlfriends house to watch the Beatles when they debuted on the Ed Sullivan show. My friend started screaming the minute they came on stage and screamed the entire time. I didn’t hear a thing. And could not for the life of me figure out why she was screaming. Even as a young girl I thought this was odd. What was the point of screaming if you can’t even hear the show. I know now that she was indoctrinated by TV she saw. Every time the Beatles played at a venue all the girls screamed so that was the thing to do.

My mother used to say “if all your friends decided to jump off a cliff or in front of a moving train would you do it too?” I foolishly assumed that all mothers told their children this tidbit of wisdom. Evidently not. Decades later, TV dictates who we are, what we want, what is right or wrong, what’s in fashion or out, what drugs to take. One big decades long, non stop indoctrination and brain washing session.

The only show that I got into when I was a kid was Star Trek. I was sitting there waiting for the first episode came on TV. I continued to follow it down through the many incarnations; sequels, movies, and spin offs. It fascinated me because the possibilities were endless. Encounters with entities entirely unlike our own, with morals light years different from our own. The original Star Trek series featured the first interracial kiss every seen on television. How’s that for bucking a trend?

I went for decades at a time not even owning a television. Didn’t really miss it. People ask me “what did you do without a TV?” Well, lots of things. Read, talk to friends, play games with my daughter, read to her, stare out the window at a storm, daydream. It never felt like I was filling a void left by no TV. I had no need to sit in front of it night after night turning into a drone. It always mystified me when people at work or at a bar would have lively discussions about characters on TV. I was always confused at first thinking they were talking about real people. I finally got wise and would say that I didn’t follow that particular show.

Didn’t tell many people that I didn’t own a TV. Seems I was always viewed as a kook, recluse or making some kind of social statement. I wasn’t really. TV just didn’t hold my interest. I prefer a more interactive environment. When reading your mind is busy at work fleshing out a scene, picturing the scenery, the people, filling in details, reading between the lines. Watching TV is completely passive and worse yet interrupted at annoying intervals with advertisements that sometimes bewilder me, but more often than not set my teeth on edge.

Years went by and the boob tube became more of entrenched feature in the American living room. Seems everyone had one and devoted more a more time to watching it, buying the products advertised, and going into debt to buy a bigger, better one. I think the height of absurdity hit me when someone suggested that it was tantamount to child abuse or neglect to not have a TV in my house for my daughter to watch. Nice try I thought. In my opinion, many parents used the TV as an electronic baby sitter, tutor, and purveyor of morals. Not the parent’s, rather what ever the fad of the day was on daytime kiddies shows.

Don’t want to get out of bed just yet? Tell you kids to go watch cartoons for a while. Can’t make up your mind which breakfast cereal is the best for your kids? Ask the kids. Their little heads are bursting with the latest sugar filled box of crap they saw on TV that morning. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse it did. To my disbelief I realized that I was now expected to watch this drivel with my children so that we could share and discuss what we saw. Oh my god, just tear out my eyes. As a parent it was now my job to censor and explain to my kids anything they watched that I did not agree with. The simple solution, just not provide them with electronic garbage in the first place, wasn’t flying.

Sesame Street came along and was the end all be all of entertainment/education for children. Today is brought to you by the letter “F” for are you ‘effin kidding me? I HATED that show. It was just too cutesy. By this time I had relented and had a small TV in the living room. My daughter loved that show.

Darling daughter also loved a lot of the other cartoon shows. When she came home from school the rule was no TV until she finished her homework. And no TV at meals.

When she left home I immediately did away with the TV. I carried it out the sidewalk and let it smash against the curb. Went another 10 years of so without one. Someone gave me a TV when they upgraded to a better one. The insidious box crept back into my life. I watched it so seldom that when I did, I had to dust it first so I could see the screen. It ended being the go to thing on the rare occasion that I was so ill or out of sorts that I couldn’t even read. Thankfully, that didn’t happen often.

Here I am decades later and remarried. Mr. Husband is a TV-holic. He quotes entire scenes from obscure sit-coms that were on the air for 1 season back in the 80s. Sometimes it’s annoying. Other times it’s creepy. I ask him now and then, “tell me the truth. Did you have a life? Or did all you do was sat in front of the TV.” He claims he did have a life. From what I can tell not much dating was in the mix. I often wonder if it is because no real life woman could measure up to the kooky, busty, air headed, always break down go back to the idiot man, TV invented, pseudo, inflatable dolly women.

It still hasn’t seeped into his reality, that I really, really, didn’t watch TV in the 80s or much of the 90s. He will still ask me “do you remember that show where such and such did so and so? You know the one with Joe Blow and Jane Doe?” My dearest love, I can’t remember something if I never saw it to begin with or had the remotest interest in seeing. It boggles his mind. That’s just part of marriage mystique.

8 responses

  1. I haven’t come by in a long time and you’ve written so much, I’m trying to catch up! This post and your take on TV remind me so much of my mom. She grew up without a TV and much prefers the quieter activities. I only stopped watching TV mindlessly when I decided to not watch TV for a year as a New Year’s resolution. The first few months were really hard. Now I feel bad about the time I lost sitting there. I applaud you for not giving in to the peer pressure that it’s mandatory to possess a TV 🙂

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. Yes, we have a tv in our house, several of them, actually, but we only ever watch one of a few networks HGTV, CNN, TRAVEL, FOOD, and BRAVO. On my own, I would only ever watch CNN and HGTV, but Sara brings the others into our lives. I hate to think what will ever come of kids who have grown up on a steady diet of the stuff. Great post!
    Kathy

    1. It is weird to contemplate what it will be like in this generation of no intellectual stimulation but TV and computer games. I think we are reaping some of the consequences already.

  3. OK. You ARE my identical twin sister torn away from me at birth! It’s getting spooky, weird, freaky…

    ha ha… I wrote a brilliant comment here – but I decided it’s too good to use just as a comment… I’m gonna blog it myself. Better go take a photo of my TV!

    1. Wow if I’m you’re sister, wonder where I was born. looking forward to you comment turned into a post 🙂

      1. OK, maybe it was before birth – I think you got here a year or two before me… someone in the universe has a cruel sense of humour…

  4. I’m with you on this, 100%.

    Never got the screaming thing either and it still annoys me if people talk over a TV programme then ask what it was about – LISTEN then you will know!

    I don’t watch much TV and can never remember old stuff either.

    TV doesn’t rule my life! 😆

    1. I agree, either shut up and watch the damn show or turn off the TV and talk to me.

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