Thursday, July 27, 2006

White Bread Television


Sitting in the shade at the pool I was waiting for my daughter to finish swim class.  Sitting on the sidelines a couple of chairs down was another parent talking on her cell phone.  She was involved in a detailed conversation about that inane talk show The View.


The focus of the conversation was on the controversy surrounding Barbra Walters, that faux newsperson, along with what various web sites or articles were saying about this riveting issue.  In order not to overhear I would have had to have gotten up and moved to another location – I was not trying to eavesdrop.  It is amazing how people will have these open conversations in public as if their cell phone emits some kind of privacy screen.  Anyway, this was obviously a conversation between experts who were well informed and big fans of the show.  It was amazing to me that I was sharing my time on this earth with two adults who actually had nothing else better to do with their time than:


A:  Watch The View

B:  Read articles and related information about the show.

C:  Actually cared about what happened concerning the show, and if Barbra Walters was an asset or liability (seems like they approved of her).

D:  Would spend well over a half hour discussing it.


As I write this there are several major crises in the world including the ongoing agony of the train wreck of our involvement in Iraq, and a new crisis between Hezbollah and Israel.  Not to mention the possibility of global warming, the Sudan, and dozens of other tragedies playing themselves out throughout the world.  Forget about other such issues as homelessness, the debate over minimum wage, and the chronically under funded mental health infrastructure.  These fans were not bad people, they are just numb people.  Let me explain.


I have noticed that many Americans just don't want to hear it. Any of it. We have already forgotten about 9-11 as if it happened in another era and maybe it did.  We are on the fast track with short memories caught up in the moment consumed by consumerism.  So we tune it out.  We have no efficient filter mechanism and we either hear too much about some issue or too little.  It seems like that most people, except cranks and those who show up at city council meetings, opt for hearing less rather than more.  Otherwise it is too overwhelming.  Yet, what bothers me the most is what people choose to do instead.  I call it White Bread Television.


Ever look at the ingredients for store bought manufactured white bread?  Probably the only people who really know what is in it are the manufacturers, a handful of nutritionist or food scientist, and the Orthodox Union.  It is a bland, unhealthy, staple of the American diet.  Just like television.  It contains additives, we consume it without thinking, we consume a lot of it, and while there are better alternatives we just keep shoving it down our gullets.  White bread numbs the pallet just as television numbs the mind.


There are better alternatives to store bought white bread.  There are also better alternatives on television other than The View but somehow we just consume what is in front of us that does not make us think or call for any effort on our part. It is truly amazing that most cable channels are as horrific as network television so that the promise of some kind of redemption for television arising out of cable has just not materialized. 


If you have ever made homemade bread, even white bread, you know how good it tastes, but also how much trouble it is to make it.  You have to be mindful, you have to plan ahead, and you have to actually do something.  Good television is like that.  Good television is something that inspires and informs.  Yes, good television can even entertain. 


My next posting will be about reading. 

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