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 TV Bites With Neena Louise

TV or Not TV?

by Neena Louise

I was startled when an aquaintance, after reading my columns here on TV Nutz, made the comment "I don't watch television, but boy, you really hate TV, don't you?" Hate TV?!? MOI? Quite the contrary...I LOVE television! Perhaps that is why I'm so dismayed at its decline in recent years. Decline or not, however, I still love it and freely admit I'm a TV addict.

The comment got me thinking, though: why is it that people who don't watch TV always feel compelled to make their preference clear (with little prompting) and hold it up like some kind of virtue? Does not watching TV make them better people? Smarter than TV viewers? I think not. Holier-than-thou, perhaps (and if I hear the Queen of the Holier-than-Thous, Oprah Winfrey, proclaim "I don't watch television!" one more time...I always thought that an odd comment coming from one who's been made obscenely wealthly from it). Of all the people that have voiced their anti-TV opinions, I've come across only ONE who stated he didn't watch TV, but, hey, to each his own. Most non-TVers preach about Big Bad Television and how much better their lives are since TV has been banished and blah, blah, BLAH. Like television is evil and watching it is a source of shame or something.

Many non-TV viewers (or, worse, born-again ex-TV viewers) claim it is "trash for the mind" and wouldn't - sniff - think of cluttering their brains with such garbage. Some (perhaps much) of TV is, of course, garbage, but with the number and variety of channels available today, there's something for everyone - even the non-TV snobs. One can even learn things from the so-called "trashy" shows. It is rare that I don't learn SOMETHING from a TV program - whether it's something mindlessly diverting or a serious documentary - every day. The non-TVers, however, don't buy this. TV is garbage. End of discussion. But they often watch movies. TRASHY movies! What is a television show, but a miniature movie with commercials?

I've also heard the anti-TVers argue at length that it's much better to read a book than watch TV. I agree wholeheartedly, but watching TV does not preclude reading. Personally, I'm not only a TV addict, but I also have a serious book addiction (I can't pass a bookstore without buying something). In fact, I often read and watch TV at the same time. So how does watching TV interfere with reading? In my case, it doesn't. Perhaps the anti-TVers with this conviction don't have enough brain power to walk and chew gum at the same time... That's not to say, however, that I think it's okay to use TV as a babysitter to park your kids in front of when they're getting on your nerves. I see nothing wrong with kids watching TV, but I have a huge problem with kids that watch television INSTEAD of reading a book (or having a book read to them). They need to have the love of books instilled in them BEFORE they acquire a TV habit. Once you learn to love to read, nothing, but nothing, can interfere with it. Not even television.

I've heard all the arguments (from all the non-TVers that can't help themselves) against today's television: it leads to violence; it's making our kids obese; it's leading our society into a general decline (pu-LEEZE) and I agree with none of them. I don't think a single form of entertainment can have that kind of influence over anyone (unless one allows impressionable kids free reign over the remote and never talks/reads/listens to them). To all those anti-TVers out there: how do you know TV is so bad if you don't even watch it? And aren't you forgetting all the positive things television does? Like warning of impending severe weather or serious accidents; keeping you informed about faulty consumer products; introducing you to classical music and literature; and, yes, even entertaining you with witless nonsense when your world gets too serious. Perhaps if you switched on once in a while, you'd find there's something on television even for YOU 
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