DSM: Re: Television

From: Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Date: Thu Dec 06 2001 - 23:29:59 EST


I am aware that there are some people on this list who don't like some
of the things that are on television; that's not really relevant to this
subject, which is about the whole medium. Just like it would be silly
to say that all newspapers are bad just because the National Enquirer is
a newspaper.

Two points, then rebuttals:

1) As an artist, I personally consider television to be the consummate
pop culture art item of the past century. I also consider it to be a
source of communication, entertainment and information, just like
theatre, the internet, newspapers, books, concerts, magazines, radio and
(emphasis here) conversations with other humans.

2) My kids watch TV about 30 minutes per day, usually along with one or
both adults. We do not limit them. They watch news, Animal Planet,
occasional sports, British comedies, and Marx Brothers, Jackie Chan and
Shirley Temple movies.

> > you allow your child to be influenced by the
> > equally manipulative environment of the television.

My approach has never been to censor communication from my children. I
believe shielding kids from manipulative and agenda-filled communication
(especially advertising) deprives them of the information presented,
deprives them the opportunity to learn for themselves that they are
undergoing a sales job (thanks to no censorship, my children now pick up
on that in about 30 seconds), and quite simply deprives them the
opportunity to live in a world filled with people trying to manipulate
them.

After all, the "evils of capitalism" mentioned simply have nothing to do
with television; TV is simply one way that people who are playing their
part in a free-market society get their pitch across. I am an
unadulterated fan of capitalism and free speech, and I don't think the
materialistic and agenda-ridden cultural trappings of the combination of
capitalism and free speech can be waived without indicting capitalism
and free speech as a whole. Without regard to whether it happens in
television, newspapers or one-on-one conversations.

If I am to censor whatever messages of capitalism that are coming from
the television, then I am sending the messages that there is something
corrupt about capitalism and/or free speech per se (which I do not
believe), and that I think my kids are incapable of exercising good
judgement in the face of persuasion and manipulation (which I do not
believe). And, of course, sending the message that my children are not
the best judge of how to spend their time.

> You reject traditional schooling because of its
> mandated curriculum. Television has its own curriculum; its
> own mass messages that we all get, and get continuously again
> and again in multiple contexts.

Not only is this comparison a real stretch (insofar that television is
merely one set of non-mandated curricula available to adults and free
children), it is a contradiction. Sudbury schooling is anathema to
limiting information. Filtering and forming information to the "best
benefit of the child" is the crippling orthodoxy employed by
conventional schools.

(Tone establishment moment - trying to get laughs while simultaneously
hoping Joseph doesn't take it wrong and get mad like what happened with
the "smashingly hypocritical" incident last month) And as far as Joseph
is concerned, I vote we make him buy a TV to make him prove he wouldn't
censor his kids if he had the chance. That whole "I never bought one"
thing is just a big excuse to cover up the all-so-apparent pattern of
criminal television deprivation he has perped on his Josephlings.

BTW J., what's your beef with Rather? Does his handsome, inquisitive
yet reassuring, distinguished and well-coiffed countenance give you
nightmares?

-Joe

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