Best television remains unplugged
Published: Friday, December 2nd, 2005
What’s not to love about the morning sounds of a town like Tucumcari? The sweetly peeping birds. The rooster that crows at the tendrils of dawn. The donkeys braying boldly down the road. Alas, a new sound was added to the mix the other morning. It was neither natural nor soothing, although it was somewhat animalistic — that is, if the animal were a frothy beast (a rabid frothy beast). It was the sound of television. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m fanatically anti-TV — yes I am — but I have learned to tolerate it at times just because my boyfriend enjoys watching people in Miami get tattooed. However, I must draw the line when a blaring jolt of something that sounds like rap mixed with an angry man chanting with a mouth full of deadbolts mixed with nails scraping down a chalkboard stirs me out of bed. Actually, the sound of the television did not wake me up — that’s the job of the nature alarm clock that simulates a bubbly brook — but it invaded my space in meditation. Thus my morning mantra went something like this: “Om… kill the people… Om… get naked… Om… break a skull.” Yes, it was definitely some kind of rap on TV. It may seem odd that someone who can meditate through Brooklyn jackhammers and Manhattan sirens may get bent out of shape by the sound of the “idiot box” (to coin a grandpa’s term), but there’s something truly creepy about television. It has a way of slithering under your skin, not unlike maggots. It’s spooky; it’s eerie; it’s evil. We’ve all seen Poltergeist, no? It also has the fine ability to make you brain dead. I’ve seen it happen. My worst experience with television occurred when an ex-boyfriend of mine fell into the TV morass when he was out of a job. Instead of discovering new opportunities or the classifieds, he discovered Days of Our Lives. This led to a steady stream of unemployment totaling more than five years. When I called to bid adieu on my way to New Mexico, I heard Oprah in the background. If we look at the history of TV, we can see how the conspiracy began on its quest to make people stupid. In 1862, Abbe Giovanni Caselli invents a “pantelegraph” and becomes the first person to transmit a still image over wires. Ah, ha! Note the Civil War was raging from 1860 to 1865; this was a first step at getting people to look at pictures on a screen rather than care about what they were actually battling or that they’re killing their brothers. In 1880, Thomas Edison, Alex G. Bell and others brought sound into the mix, not coincidentally coinciding with the establishment of the Board of Health in Waltham, Mass., to address water and sewer problems. Inventors are already foreseeing those enamored by the sights and sounds on a little box will stop taking showers and begin to leave garbage strewn all over the living room. After the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, where the term “television” was first used, the boob tube really got a jump start. By 1937, CBS and the BBC were adding finishing touches and actually broadcasting. The year 1939 saw RCA transmit experimentally from the Empire State Building. Hey, when was World War II? This brief history excerpted from Mary Bellis on about.com not only proves television makes you brain dead, but it makes you slovenly enough to clog sewers and angry enough to start a war. Perhaps that’s why the morning rapper was so irate. Sure, a few shows may be entertaining enough to view, such as the Eric Clapton with Cream concert on PBS the other night, the history of club-footed pygmies in the Amazon or the making of the Brooklyn Bridge, but viewing should be limited to a short period each day — not blaring through eternity — and certainly not in the wee hours of meditation. Besides, if you want to get brain dead, there’s always The Globe or The National Inquirer.
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