by Joe Coluccio – President, Parsec
Apologies to Bob Marley.
Cable TV is a seductive mate. We pay the exorbitant price not only in hard earned bucks but in some loss of self and a dose of atrophying physical and mental ability.
Newton Minow, then director of the FCC, in a speech in May of 1961 called television a “vast wasteland.” They named the S.S. Minnow of Gilligan’s Island after him. Telling it like it is, is never popular.
How prescient of Newton to predict the present state of thousands of channels with content that makes Gilligan, The Skipper too, The millionaire and his wife, The movie star, The Professor, and Mary Ann seem an American Classic to rival “Moby Dick.”
Before you counter with a million dagger-like arguments, please understand that I appreciate and am a lover of “popular culture.” Television has been a part of my life since the likes of Channel Three, WDTV; the Dumont Network showed up in Pittsburgh. I jonesed on Howdy Doody, Captain Video and, with my old man, the Gillette Friday Night Fights, look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp. Through Dobie Gillis and The Untouchables, of course, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and ST, the loneliest generation, on to the Bunkers, Newhart, Burnett, that bar in Boston, St. Elsewhere, read medicine for Gray’s Anatomy. In short, been there for everything, but Honey Boo Boo and crass New Jersey.
Like quite a few people, the shape of my ethos and my cosmos was formed by the opinion flogged on TV. Although I have sloughed the snakeskin of the televised world view displayed on the interlaced screen, I still acknowledge the influence.
And, so, it was with some regret that I cancelled the cable TV umbilical to my home and my psyche. I could no longer tolerate the news, (I’m sure Fred Friendly and Edward R. are throwing darts from the journalism section of the afterlife) full of alarm and inaccuracy, somehow shrugged off with disapprobation by those in the know as, “it’s no longer the news, but entertainment.” It is far more disturbing to me that someone could regard the made up clown face newscasters spewing bilious misstatement as entertaining. Gives entertaining a bad name. The only hard news allowed in the dubious revelations is the commercials.
Storytelling has given away to bloated reality stars imagining that they have more substance than the shade of the outline of the silhouettes of the shadows on the wall they portray. I wasted countless time searching via remote control clicks to find something of substance. My journey was often wasted.
My decision to trade the Cable for increased router speed at a less than reasonable price has turned out to be an ok trade-off. Most of the TV programming I was interested in is available in some form or other on dub dub dub. I am again content and satisfied by reading.
It is sad and true; virtual space is endless uncurated information. The world wide web is far too expansive to be only a wasteland. But it is a bewildering mix of important information and superficial understanding. Now, by gum, the same groups that brought Newton Minow’s vision to fruition are gathering to take over our planet-spanning spider web of information. Click bait, “Likes,” slideshows images rife with trashy commercial messages make for a bumpy ride. Irritating sites that offer you some service for free, if only you will post your support to your growing group of “friends” are a travesty of commercial conduct.
In the peaceful quiet of my living room, nothing with annoying audio and spectral illumination demands my attention. I read with inner peace or turn to contemplate my third eye at the center of the nerve nexus in my forehead.
I have the freedom choose what rubbish I want to view when I want to view. I am becoming whole again. Teetering on the brink of my future on the holodeck.