I don’t own a tv…

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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5 Responses

  1. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    I suppose I would agree with his arguments, but I don’t get all the way to his conclusion. Is there always something better you could be doing? With maybe a few exceptions (The Wire) I would say yes. But frankly, I’m not mentally equipped to be healthy and engaged all the time. As long as its done in moderation, I would say there’s room in a healthy life for a little time-killing–in that way, TV is like any other drug. Getting drunk every day is bad news, and so is watching TV every day, but as occasional indulgences go there are worse things.Report

  2. I agree with Dan. I think it is silly to discount an entire medium because the vast majority of its programming is useless. I wonder if Shiffman would say that cinema is similarly useless, because aside from long-form narrative and a dark, public theater, television and film are quite similar. Or does having to purchase one’s ticket from a pimply teenager and getting one’s shoes stuck in the aisle count for enough social interaction to produce “love.”

    Films and television are modern ways of storytelling that are just as powerful as reading. I know Sullivan had a post the other day about television being able to make people feel more connected. Again, almost everything on television is horrid. The new wave of cable drama provides some hope to the format. “The Wire” was fantastic, and “Mad Men” is an excellent vehicle for exploring our own era in contrast with a very different 1960s. “House” is a guilty pleasure that is the same as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Mystery stories.

    I fear broadcast television will go the way of newspapers. They have sacrificed content and quality with few exceptions for ratings and cost-effectiveness. See the rise of reality television, for example, which has no use at all other than voyeuristic schadenfreude. The exodus of quality content to cable and time shifted viewing through TiVo and the Internet will kill broadcast’s advertising revenues as their audiences diminish.

    Enjoying television as you do is okay. We can’t always be playing in our string quartet, teaching the children the dual case declensions for body parts in Czech, or reading Kant. That’s why people used to go to the theater, opera, or symphony. Now we can have the same enjoyment in sweat pants. We just have to be careful not to give in to watching “Deadliest Catch” or “To Catch a Predator” marathons. But they are so good…Report

  3. Sorry for making that long. I had to get my blog on somewhere on a Saturday.Report

  4. Avatar Roque Nuevo says:

    I didn’t read this very carefully but I have to say that we agree here completely. Just so you know I’m not here just to try and stir up trouble.

    One thing I didn’t see is about the effects on children. Are children happier if they grow up in a household without a TV? My own would answer “yes” without hesitation. In fact, they’re proud of it today. Of course at the time the opposite was true. They thought we were the worst parents on the block for not owning one.Report