Give Me a Break

We are in the midst of “No TV Week”. Let me state very clearly, right at the beginning: I think it is a stupid idea.

I like television just like I like literature, movies, plays, musicals, ballet, stand-up comedy, music, paintings, sculptures, and just about every other form of art. I also like television just like I like books, audio books, lectures, and just about every other form of learning. Can television be of negligible artistic merit? Can television be a hindrance to learning? Of course on both counts.

But so can the other media. I love books but even I must admit that there are some books severely lacking in both art and learning. (Please feel free to leave your nominations in the comments.) There are also movies that suffer similarly. (NB: Independence Day.) But rather than boycott other media, we simply encourage better discrimination in selection. How can my eldest watching the Discovery Channel be wrong?

So “No TV Week” is stupid because it would throw out the baby with the bath water.

I can think of many more worthwhile causes that deserve the time and money that has been poured into this campaign. Perhaps I could get behind a “No Brain-Wasting Week”. But even then I still think there are lots of more important causes. It seems to me that universal literacy would be a lot more helpful than some middle- and upper-class kids skipping a few episodes of That's So Raven. Or perhaps we could work on the feeding the hungry. Or providing decent health care for those in Africa. Or maybe stopping genocide. Look. Without much effort I listed a bunch of better things to be doing with our time and money.

So “No TV Week” is stupid because it fiddles while Rome is burning.

Surely we can do better than this.


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