Friday, December 10, 2010

Good

By a happy coincidence, Norbert Cunningham and Alec Bruce had closely related columns; and one right next to the other. Bruce dealt with the baby boomers, Cunningham with the brainlessness of TV.

The coincidence? Boomers were the first TV generation.

Before TV, people had to read or listen to radio for home entertainment. Both reading and listening required imagination, close attention, and intellectual exercise. In both cases, one had to imagine scenes just from words, to imagine the face and actions of the detective in the radio play, to imagine the anguished face of the heroine in a story. People were involved emotionally and intellectually with radio and print. I can still vividly recall scenes from radio plays I heard as a child. I can even remember some of t he commercial jingles. But remember little of the TV I've seen since then.

TV is passive. The viewer needs no imagination, no brain. One just sits there watching colours and shapes move. (That passive watching is the reason why camera angles on TV change so often., to keep the viewer comatose.) Even the news on TV becomes mindless entertainment. We have also developed the ultimate dumber-down, the infomercials, watched by millions for hours at a time.

The living room, once the place where people gathered to talk and , in the process, learn social and intellectual skills, is now focussed oon the TV set. Everybody is blanked out. Everybody is watching the shapes and the colours change ever twenty seconds or so. TV makes so little demand on us that some experts claim we burn more calories while sleeping than we do watching TV.

Certainly, TV the dead zone that Cunningham describes has been a major factor in producing the self-absorbed poorly informed, easiy manipulated and barely literate generation that Alec Bruce describes, the baby boomers.

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