I'm bipolar. I blog about it. I also blog about sex, theology and atheology, funny shit and sad shit, books, music, feminism, and love. Mostly love.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why I Don't Watch Television

Kyle: I said in my first post ever that I would remain the conductor and y'all would still be my passengers. A person's name doesn't change just because they do. I think that's how I'm justifying it.

Now for the actual post.

I'm on a feminist kick. I don't know if all this progressive thinking is a phase of my higher education, or if I'm really starting to think a little differently. I've noticed that the less I engage in Facebook, the less television I watch, and the more I read; the more I really start to think about where I'm at. I think about the world I'm living in. I choose to always think of the things that bring me joy, but I do not ignore what upsets me. And I'm upset by this patriarchal society. And I hadn't thought much about it before. I was probably a feminist before, but I wasn't pissed off enough. It was also hard for me to see where our patriarchal society really affected me because I was so immersed in that society and had never taken time to question it. Again. I think an overdose of Real Housewives, My Sweet 16, and any show that glorified the lives of the famous filled the time in which I should have really been thinking about the world around me. I know y'all are going to get sick of my reality television rants, but I think it's a serious thing.

Television (with the exception of educational television or artistic work) is 1) a waste of time, 2) an easy way for media to reinforce patriarchal ideas as well as stereotypes and create a standard of beauty to a vulnerable or young audience, and 3) is all managed and produced by the very rich, which gives that one percent we liberals are always complaining about, power that is undeserved and truly scary.

I used to watch television to know what clothes were cool, and if I didn't own those clothes I somehow felt inferior or angry that no one would provide them for me. That led to some severe ungratefulness on my part. *Sorry Mom* I used to watch television to know who was important, completely overlooking the fact that being a good artist does not make a person any more invincible than any other; it only magnifies their successes and failures in an exploitative manner. I used to watch those shows and let it reinforce my hatred towards small town life and "country bumpkins." I used to watch television to wish my life was like someone else's.

Instead, I could have been making my life the way I wanted it. I could have been reading more books, or exercising more, or talking to people who helped me to open my mind to new and brilliant things. There's nothing wrong with television until we expose children to anything besides educational television (PBS, people), because it again reinforces stereotypes and teaches children to want, want, want those toys on the commercials. They are so unnecessary, but those ads, as ads will, make them seem like the only way to achieve popularity or coolness. That is teaching children at a young age to allow media to tell them what is acceptable, cool, and what is beautiful or good-looking--the standard thereof. What toys would they be interested in if TV wasn't telling them what to be interested in?

Those Disney channel shows I loved so much reinforced the belief that nerds were uncool, and "normal people" were beautiful and rich. Those "normal people" didn't have glasses and they weren't above the weight our standard of beauty says is okay. And although those "normal people" weren't rich by standards of that show, they still managed to have lots of cool, beautiful clothes, and huge houses. Their moms were almost always at-home mothers. Their fathers liked reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. And although the fathers always made decisions for the family, the mother always knew what was best, and the father's plans would always fail. The mother would quietly shake her head, smile, and fix everything. Don't believe me? What about road trips where the dad won't get directions although the wife suggests it, and then they're lost? The man gets to make the decision. The man makes a fool of himself. The woman fixes it. That's we how we, in the 50s, began to justify the apparent sexism in television, but now it's ridiculous. And I'm not sure why men put up with it, frankly. Men aren't always meat-head brutes that are far less intelligent that their wives... not always. There are plenty of intelligent men, and plenty of working women. <--and why are the "less intelligent" sex given the career?

The "popular kids" in those shows weren't actually that popular. No one really liked them, but everyone pretended to. Everyone was nice to them although they were mean to everyone else. It was about once a season that someone would stand up to them. And they were always blonde with huge boobs and revealing clothes. Those were the girls knocked up in my high school... not the homecoming queens. These shows gave me a very skewed idea of social interaction, of how to handle bullying, of what was "lame," "normal," and "popular." It taught me to glorify and aim for that popularity. It taught me what was normal, which was actually more like the very top of middle class, which is definitely not the norm. Also, who gets to kiss Aaron Carter in junior high? Who needs to be kissing anyone in junior high?

On a personal note, I think I watched television as a coping mechanism. I didn't always want to think. If I didn't like myself, I could immerse myself in something besides thought. Because thought could lead to scary places. But I was immersing myself in something that began to think for me. That wasn't okay, either. I think we do the same thing with our cell phones now and with clubs and committees and classes and parties and anything that takes our time away from centering and mindfulness... because we're afraid of what we'll find if we spend too much time in our heads.

I've continued to watch public television. And if I like a show enough, then I'll buy the series and watch it on DVD. But I don't need to see those commercials. I don't need to get caught up in a train wreck of a TV show or the cat fights and pettiness of those rich-people-reality-tv shows. <-- The Hills, Jersey Shore, My Sweet 16, Housewives of whatever God-forsaken county... I don't need any of it. And if I have to buy a series, then I really have to think. Keeping something in my cart is harder than hitting an on button. I really have to think, if this show enforces stereotypes, will I be able to recognize and question them? Will this show have the power to tell me what is beautiful? If the answer is no, then it's not a purchase I feel bad about.

Word Vomit Wrap Up in 5:
  1. I'm developing and learning about more feminist ideals.
  2. I'm kind of disgusted by what's on TV.
  3. Kids are still easily manipulated by images and speech, and what they find on television gives them false ideas about life and doesn't allow them to think for themselves.
  4. Television takes the space of time during which we should think about ourselves, our lives, our failures and achievements, and what we define as such. It doesn't allow us to be mindful or conscious. It takes time from reading, meditation, prayer, conversation, or anything that would further our journey toward self-discovery.
  5. Television is packed full of stereotypes, patriarchal themes, and images of what is "beautiful." I need to experience real people to help me define behaviors of different cultures, I need to defy and question patriarchal society, and I have my own eyes, thanks.


kyle gene said...

I agree that mass media, and television in general pollutes people's minds, honing in on young people. And I also agree that it is best to think for oneself and to experience other cultures first hand before passing judgment. However, "most people" are indoctrinated into this false reality composed of stereotypes and lack of thought. So even when you do experience people and life for yourself, by and large the people you interact with won't be an honest representation of themselves, but rather the media induced version. Basically...until everyone is on board with this line of thought (the answer is never) then the best those of us who chose to take part in "real life" can hope for is finding our niche of like minded individuals.

Cypress said...

Wow. I'm gonna reread that post and digest it some more. Interesting points you have, especially about the mom and the dad thing... hmmm...