Wednesday, March 07, 2007

TV as Commodity?

Humans are masters of self-sabotage. Example: In an attempt to give me a much-desired reading area, my husband surprised me with a comfortable leather chair and matching ottoman. It was an expensive set, extravagant for a large family household in which furniture is little more than disposable. Set in a quiet corner with a side table and lamp, there is now no excuse for me not to spend more time at my favorite pastime. Except, of course, that said chair is usually covered with unfolded laundry.

In the same spirit, I ordered cable TV even as I am planning a six-month experiment in extreme simplicity. I certainly have valid excuses—a great channel package at an ungodly low price, or no local channel reception for example—but doesn’t everyone? After less than twenty-four hours with hundreds of channels at my disposal, I have come to a few conclusions.

First, Americans are even weirder than I thought. A quick peek at the channel guide reveals a smorgasbord of innovative and edifying choices such as Engaged and Underage, Necklace Showcase, and True Hollywood Stories. I’m assuming that someone must be watching this pap, but whom?

Second, most children’s programming is neither educational nor appropriate for children. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but my entire experience in this area heretofore was with PBS and the occasional Wiggles video from the library.

Last, the media has a bigger portion of the blame for our culture of overspending than corporate America, even (gasp) Wal-Mart. Not only is there a television show dedicated to what NOT to wear, new episodes are shown multiple times a day. An entire program beseeching us to dispose of wearable garments simply because a style expert of dubious credentials says it must be? And that’s just one of the hundreds of similar programs available for viewing at any hour of the day or night. No wonder most of us are wading through a quagmire of unnecessary debt.

How long will cable television survive in my bookish home? Will my family be transformed from proud pop-cultural illiterates to knowledgeable consumers of reality shows and music television? We shall see. So far, I think A.) 3 months, and B.) Nope. We’re too far gone for even the savviest of marketing experts.


Alison Peters said...

Hi Emily

Am embarking on the same simple journey, with fewer kids in toe... so am with you on so many things.

Cable TV... yep, I give you three months. Sometimes I wonder if I was dropped here from another planet. My friends gasp when they hear we don't have it. It's like admitting to living without electricity...


Alison Peters said...

Of course I meant 'in tow'! Note to self: always preview comments before publishing

Emily the Great and Terrible said...

The cable is nice, but I wonder how long before it corrupts us. Right now it's nice to see the news... we'll see how it goes.