TV Free Me

By Chris Blank

This summer I made the ultimate sacrifice- in order to get outdoors more I swore off television.

"Forget it!" I would yell, walking by the set and feeling drawn in by it's low-level radiation. As a child is to a teat, I was beckoned forth by that scoundrel of misinformation.

It wasn't so easy, though. For the first few days I tried to keep myself busy, going jogging and walking anywhere I had previously driven to. When I came home it was another matter entirely.

The TV stares at me with it's one bad eye. I must resist it's temptations, but my apartment is so quiet and cold. TV promises to be my friend, my companion, my lover evermore. "Back!" I scream attempting to assuage the beast.

Promises of belly laughs and controversy draw me closer to the remote. There are so many friends inside that lovely black box. So many stories and so much information.

"It's all advertising," a pathetic attempt at reminding myself of the dangers, "and all of the sitcoms are rehashes of old plots anyways- ones I've seen tons of times."

Advertising is art, and art is entrancing

None of this is truly comforting. Advertising is art, and art is entrancing. I know that in those lovely jingles and witty constructs there is a marketing tag team attempting to dislodge my money and I. But knowing what they're doing to me shouldn't make it tolerable.

Of course we all realize the internal censorship that media agencies go through, scrapping anything too controversial in order to appease advertisers and wealthy stockholders. Looking through the list of financial supporters of television stations, it is surprising that any progressive material ever sees the light of day. This hard-ball isn't limited to TV either; right-wingers like Ted Turner try to keep controversial films like David Cronenberg's Crash from getting distributed in North America. Above all, entertainment is business and business likes things simple and profitable.

I struggle with these moral issues and then tell myself that I'll just watch the news. What's wrong with the news? Everything. Suddenly Noam Chomsky is my moral mind, repeating mantras on the dangers of the media. By watching the news would I be finding out about what's going on in the world or would I be a jello-brained baby being force-fed politically safe pablum?

What's wrong with the news? Everything

My face is flush, eyes darting around the room. Books, magazines, internet... All these other mediums I have at my hands to "get informed." And yet I have nothing. Big publishers of books and magazines are supported by wealthy individuals who have their own agendas and the internet is a breeding ground of misinformation.

Where can I turn? Who can I believe? I thought my beloved television loved me, promising to keep me informed and satiated.

I miss my television. I physically crave its noise; that ambient groove of dialogue, promos, and advertising. I turn on the radio for a few moments. The CBC has always seemed a safe-haven, a friend in the room when the noise of daily traffic has died and the world is quiet. Soon that too grows stale. Tiresome tirades, rancid radio plays, and (primarily on Radio 2) many an overblown ego.

Off goes the radio until late night CBC Radio International.

It is still day. The day is quiet and after a few moments of these thoughts I pick up the remote and watch The Simpsons. At least cartoons don't have anything to do with reality, do they?

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