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Television

  • [Television viewing] is a one-way transaction that requires the taking in of particular sensory material in a particular way, no matter what the material might be. There is, indeed, no other experience in a child's life that permits quite so much intake while demanding so little outflow.

  • Parents may overemphasize the importance of content in considering the effects of television on their children because they assume that the television experience of children is the same as their own. But there is an essential difference between the two: the adult has a vast backlog of real-life experiences; the child does not. ... His subsequent real-life activities will stir memories of television experiences, not, as for the adult watcher, the other way around. To a certain extent the child's early television experiences will serve to dehumanize, to mechanize, to make less real the realities and relationships he encounters in life. For him, real events will always carry subtle echoes of the television world.

  • A disturbing possibility exists that the television experience has not merely blurred the distinctions between the real and the unreal for steady viewers, but that by doing so it has dulled their sensitivities to real events. For when the reality of a situation is diminished, people are able to react to it less emotionally, more as spectators.

  • Television's contribution to family life has been an equivocal one. For while it has, indeed, kept the members of the family from dispersing, it has not served to bring them together. By its domination of the time families spend together, it destroys the special quality that distinguishes one family from another, a quality that depends to a great extent on what a family does, what special rituals, games, recurrent jokes, familiar songs, and shared activities it accumulates.

  • In its effect on family relationships, in its facilitation of parental withdrawal from an active role in the socialization of their children, and in its replacement of family rituals and special events, television has played an important role in the disintegration of the American family.

  • Educational television should be absolutely forbidden. It can only lead to unreasonable expectations and eventual disappointment when your child discovers that the letters of the alphabet do not leap up out of books and dance around the room with royal-blue chickens.

  • There is something spurious about the very term 'a movie made for TV,' because what you make for TV is a TV program.

  • Television as we have it isn't an art form — it's a piece of furniture that is good for a few things.

  • For perhaps most Americans, TV is an apppliance, not to be used selectively but to be turned on — there's always something to watch.

  • Television represents what happens to a medium when the artists have no power and the businessmen are in full, unquestioned control.

  • TV is a language all its own, a land of one dimensional stereotypes that destroys culture, not adds to it. TV is anti-art, a reflection of consumerism that serves the power structure. TV is about demographics.

  • Until a child can meet reality, he must live in fantasy. But he must create his own fantasy. And it is television's primary damage that it provides ten million children with the same fantasy, ready-made and on a platter.

  • ... television and radio violence was considered by most experts of minimal importance as a contributory cause of youthful killing. ... there were always enough experts to assure the public that crime and violence had nothing to do with crime and violence.

  • When television families aren't gathered around the kitchen table exchanging wisecracks, they are experiencing brief but moving dilemmas, which are handily solved by the youngest child or by some cute extraterrestrial houseguest. Emerging from Family Ties or My Two Dads, we are forced to acknowledge that our own families are made up of slow-witted, emotionally crippled people who would be lucky to qualify for seats in the studio audience of JEOPARDY!

  • ... when you watch television, you will see people doing many things — chasing fast cars, drinking lite beer, shooting each other at close range, etc. But you will never see people watching television. ... we love television because television brings us a world in which television does not exist.

  • ... in television the product is not the program; the product is the audience and the consumer of that product is the advertiser. The advertiser does not 'buy' a news program. He buys an audience.

  • [On television:] It's paternalism at its slickest.

  • If it was on TV, it must be so. Calendars were tricky and church bells might fool you, but if you heard Ed Sullivan's voice you knew it was Sunday night.

  • Molded salads are best served in situations where they have little or no competition ... Like television, gelatin is too often a vehicle for limp leftovers that couldn't make it anywhere else.

  • Art is moral passion married to entertainment. Moral passion without entertainment is propaganda, and entertainment without moral passion is television.

  • What happens to children and families today who sit around the television? They're watching made-up stories. It's not their experience and it's not truly shared. A human being must learn at a very young age how to connect to other human beings. Our technologies are driving us apart, only connecting us in terms of information, not in terms of emotions.

  • We are given in our newspapers and on TV and radio exactly what we, the public, insist on having, and this very frequently is mediocre information and mediocre entertainment.

  • The same big TV antenna dwarfed each roof, as though life here could only be bearable if lived elsewhere in the imagination.

  • The television screen is the lens through which most children learn about violence. Through the magnifying power of this lens, their everyday life becomes suffused by images of shootings, family violence, gang warfare, kidnappings, and everything else that contributes to violence in our society. It shapes their experiences long before they have had the opportunity to consent to such shaping or developed the ability to cope adequately with this knowledge.

  • ... the convictions of Hollywood and television are made of boiled money.

  • Hollywood was like a mouse being followed by a cat called television.

  • TV has created a kind of false collectivity.

  • I'm always amazed that people will actually choose to sit in front of the television and just be savaged by stuff that belittles their intelligence.

  • TV taste is an aftertaste. Whatever gets on the tube is always a foregone conclusion, a fait accompli. That is, any new ideas or social changes have already been fought for in the real world of the streets, or in the bedroom or even the law courts long before they reach the screen. By the time you see it on prime time, it's usually all over and done with, whatever it was. Television by definition is not avant garde. It is often reactionary and always sentimental.

  • ... TV shapes thought as surely as language shapes it.

  • If it true that perception is reality, then what is shown on TV is that part of the collective consciousness known as Public Knowledge, that is, the fragment of reality which the mass of people acknowledge to be true.

  • Just as a salesperson is never extreme or original or overdressed, so the TV retailers never do anything to distract their audiences from the real product, the commercial.

  • The primary motivation in the world of television is fear. People are scared to death. Ambition and enthusiasm and interest and the desire to excel are secondary. Because fear is an enormous motivating force, many in the medium are afraid to make decisions, take chances, do anything innovative.

  • I asked Mr. Vann which O levels you need to write situation comedy for television. Mr. Vann said that you don't need qualifications at all, you just need to be a moron.

  • The illusion of companionship sits waiting in the television set. We keep our televisions on more than we watch them — an average of more than seven hours a day. For background. For company.

  • Television emphasizes the deviant so that it becomes normal. ... It's become more and more difficult for people to know the difference between fame and infamy.

    • Vicki Abt,
    • in Bucky Gleason, "More Research on Effects of Daytime Talk Shows," St. Louis Post-Dispatch ()
  • Our media, which is like a planetary nervous system, are far more sensitive to breakdowns than to breakthroughs. They filter out our creativity and successes, considering them less newsworthy than violence, war, and dissent. When we read newspapers and watch television news, we feel closer to a death in the social body than to an awakening.

  • Television has opened many doors — mostly on refrigerators.

  • There is no reason to confuse television news with journalism.

  • Television does not provide human models for a bright thirteen-year-old girl who would like to grow up to be something other than an ecstatic floor waxer.

    • Caroline Bird,
    • 1971, in Louise Bernikow, The American Women's Almanac ()
  • I made it to the childbearing phase without TV dependence, then looked around and thought, Well gee, why start now? Why get a pet python on the day you decide to raise fuzzy little gerbils?

    • Barbara Kingsolver,
    • "The One-Eyed Monster and Why I Don't Let Him In," Small Wonder ()
  • Even if every program were educational and every advertisement bore the seal of approval of the American Dental Association, we would still have a critical problem. It's not just the programs but the act of watching television hour after hour after hour that's destructive.

  • On television, journalists now routinely appear on talk-shows-with-an-attitude where they are encouraged to say what they think about something they may not have finished thinking about.

  • The six and one-fourth hours' television watching (the American average per day) which non-reading children do is what is called alpha-level learning. The mind needn't make any pictures since the pictures are provided, so the mind cuts current as low as it can.

  • Television has accustomed us to brief, intimate, telegraphic, visual, narrative messages. Candidates are learning to act, speak, and think in television's terms. In the process they are transforming speeches, debates, and their appearances in news into ads.

  • ... television. It has changed the way that we perceive the world out there, and though we know that — have indeed been bombarded with analyses on the consequences for society, for the family, and for individual psychology — I don't believe that we have yet begun to appreciate the reach of its subliminal effects, of what we might call 'the slow viruses.' They not only get into our ways of seeing, they pervade the ways in which we weave our perceptions together into patterns that support and explain our thinking and our doing and both direct and hinder various kinds of relationships.

  • ... TV by and large has become a dime-store business so far as creativity and talent are concerned. The half-hour and sixty-minute series rattle off the production lines like cans of beans, with an occasional dab of ham inside.

    • Hedda Hopper,
    • in Hedda Hopper and James Brough, The Whole Truth and Nothing But ()
  • Young children need to learn about life, about how this world works, about how to think, feel, and behave. Impressionable and trusting, they watch television to learn appropriate behavior, skills, and values. ... For children raised on a heavy TV diet, television replaces direct firsthand experiencing and becomes their reality. When children look to television to learn about life, what do they learn? They learn to become consumers — never to be satisfied with what they have, always to 'need' more things; then they become frustrated and angry if they cannot afford them. They learn to crave sugar. They learn to seek immediate gratification of their desires, to use violence to solve problems — or they learn to be passive and uninvolved with life.

  • The hours spent viewing TV are hours not available for actively participating in the real world, or playing, or being involved with friends and family. Watching television is an individual activity that tends to discourage interaction with others; as viewing time increases, family communication time decreases. As family communication decreases, people grow more distant from each other and may even forget how to carry on a good conversation.

  • Television ... the new gladiatorial arena.

  • ... don't ever let television become part of your child's daily routine or, like lunch, it will be expected every day.

  • ... it was Tark's experience that TV addicts were usually addicted to something else as well. Food, booze, drugs, sex, money, take your pick.

  • It is very bizarre to watch total strangers stand up and tell a TV camera things that are almost too personal to hear from your best friend.

  • ... jukeboxes, radio and television, going from dawn to dusk, help spread the poison of synthetic, artificial, rhythmical noise.

    • Maria Trapp,
    • with Ruth T. Murdoch, A Family on Wheels ()
  • Among all the complaints you hear these days about the crimes of the media, it seems to me the critics miss the big one. It is that especially TV, but also we of the print press, tend to reduce mess and complexity and ambiguity to a simple story line that doesn't reflect reality so much as it distorts it. ... What bothers me about the journalistic tendency to reduce unmanageable reality to self-contained, movielike little dramas is not just that we falsify when we do this. It is also that we really miss the good story.

  • ... TV holds a close second to cars for destroying our society. It's a failed experiment.

  • To me, television is one of the worst things that ever happened to the world.

    • Louise Meyer,
    • in Gail Collins, When Everything Changed ()
  • When television is bad, nothing is worse. When television is good, it's not much better. Why do you think it's called a medium?

  • Television was a plague on the land ... isolating and segregating people, acting as sole companion to too many people suffering from the loneliness that its existence created in the first place.

  • In a nation of people increasingly informed by talk show rant on the right and the left, facts are incinerated in a blaze of rumor and accusation. If the accumulated charges burn brightly enough, the resulting smoke obscures any real truths. Lost in the haze of left- and right-wing polemics is real journalism. As the line between reporting and opinion becomes blurred, so do the definitions that used to be the touchstones of my profession. ... And with the proliferation of so many broadcast channels and twenty-four-hour cable news, individual programs can differentiate themselves only by being edgier than the competition. The morphing of television interview programs into verbal food fights is now nearly universal. For an anxious nation in a post-9/11 world, the media have become an echo chamber, reinforcing our misconceptions and exaggerating our differences, real and imagined.

  • ... oh how television diminishes everything.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1965, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • My dream is to have someday a bank of TVs, where all the different channels could be on and I could be monitoring them. I would love that. The more the better. I love the tabloid stuff. The trashier the program is, the more I feel it's TV. ... Because that's TV's mode. That's the Age of Hollywood. The idea of PBS — heavy-duty "Masterpiece Theater," Bill Moyers — I hate all that.

    • Camille Paglia,
    • in Stewart Brand, "Scream of Consciousness," Wired ()
  • ... people have always told stories to their children around the flickering campfire, and those stories formed the culture of that community. Our flickering campfire now is the television and computer screen ...

    • Doris Haddock,
    • with Dennis Burke, Granny D: Walking Across America in My 90th Year ()

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  • Actually, television doesn't do much to blend us together as one culture — at least not as much as one might expect. I think part of the reason is that we tend to watch things that are already comfortable territory to us, so we don't stretch ourselves. And part of it is the pure passivity of the thing: You don't learn unless you are actively engaged.

    • ,
    • with Dennis Burke, Granny D: Walking Across America in My 90th Year ()
  • They keep the television in the living room, and it's just a garbage box. If you keep the garbage box in the living room, it will smell and you will begin to smell like it.

  • The world comes second hand — fifth hand — to us and the illusion that it is fresh because it is shown as a picture of an actual place or is given as a 'true account' by some reporter who claims to have been 'there' divides man into incalculable parts without any true center.

  • Over the airways, in movies, experiences have come to be dogmatized to certain kinds of experience at the cost of all others.

  • There are days when any electrical appliance in the house, including the vacuum cleaner, seems to offer more entertainment possibilities than the TV set.

  • Within the world of TV land, into which American life has been reduced as well as reproduced, the phenomenon of the talk show has emerged as a genre located somewhere on the spectrum between coffee klatch and town meeting, or perhaps between the psychiatrist's couch and the crowd scene at a bad accident.

  • TV has had a stronger impact on our society than any single invention since the automobile. It has put the dead hand on conversation ...

  • Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other.

    • Ann Landers,
    • in Bob Chieger, Was It Good for You, Too? ()
  • Radio and television ... have succeeded in lifting the manufacture of banality out of the sphere of handicraft and placed it in that of a major industry.

  • Art may imitate life, but life imitates TV.

  • [On television:] It's made people moronic, it's robbed people of their ability to think. It's done tremendous damage, and every single household that has a small child should take it and throw it out the window.

    • Laurie Colwin,
    • in Mickey Pearlman and Katherine Usher Henderson, A Voice of One's Own: Conversations With America's Writing Women ()
  • Isn't it sad that we only get upset about nasty things happening to people and places if television decides we should?

  • That was the trouble with so many reality programmes on television — everyone wanted fame these days without necessarily working at anything to achieve it.

  • ... television's overpowering images of Black deviance — its regularity and frequency — are impossible to ignore. These negative images have been seared into our collective consciousness. It is no surprise that most Americans wrongly believe that Blacks are responsible for the majority of crime.

  • Television could perform a great service in mass education, but there's no indication its sponsors have anything like this on their minds.

  • Reality television is not the end of civilisation as we know it; it is civilisation as we know it.