A TV Boycott

Most of us in America at this point in time have watched television since we were kids. Shows like the Three Stooges, My Three Sons, Father Knows Best and of course Sunday evening with Ed Sullivan were staples during my formative years.

We were and continue to be entertained and educated by television—the Kennedy assassination and the 9/11 World Trade Center attack being two prime examples of the latter.

In light of the current television writers strike, I have become increasingly aware that television is not about us, the consumer anymore, but is a bottom-line driven big business. The big four (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) don’t really care about us, the viewer and haven’t for some many years.

If a new program doesn’t show major financial promise within a few episodes, it is thrown away like so much stale food—with never a consideration of the quality that may be inherent in the shows creative process.

In other words, you can pretty much say if I like the program, chances are it won’t last. That being said I will have to admit to a fondness towards such quirky shows like Picket Fences, Northern Exposure, Joan of Arcadia and Earth Two. I do like the CSI and Law & Order type shows but will readily admit that they are like so much TV eye candy—normally well written and acted but easily forgotten after one viewing. And they all pretty much explore only one aspect of the human psyche—the predilection towards violence.

When Sandi and I moved to North Carolina, we didn’t have a TV for a year or two and then, after our first child was born, got a small black and white television with which to watch re-runs of Perry Mason, Andy Griffith and Sesame Street. Most of our spare time was spent reading or hiking or doing all the other things people who don’t have TV’s do.

Kind of like the “middle-ages” right!

Anyway, having said all that, I think it is time that we let Hollywood know who’s the boss. That we are no longer going to sit around and let “them” decide what we will be offered to watch—and then to have our favorite shows yanked after we have committed ourselves to the characters and their respective lives.

I think a TV Blackout Boycott would be good for a few days. When the advertisers realize that no one is seeing their million dollar ads, maybe things will change.

I realize that this is highly idealistic and that most people will not give up their TV’s if only for a few days. Exxon/Mobil is still  around following the Valdez episode and even though I didn’t go to a McDonald’s Restaurant for several years out of frustration concerning their lack of local initiative, they are still in business as well.

But can you imagine what it would look like with everybody checking out the local libraries—maybe even some local bookstores and Amazon dot com would make a profit for a few days if the TV was turned off at night during prime time.

Maybe we could even have some people over for coffee and dessert and listen to an old Jackson Browne album.

Or we could get caught up on our bills or correspondence or all those odd jobs we have been putting off because we were busy watching TV.

I think I will send a link to ABC and the others and wait for the bookstores and libraries to fill up. What do you think?

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10 Responses to A TV Boycott

  1. Craig V. says:

    That sounds like a great idea to me. When my wife and I were first married we didn’t have a TV. I don’t think we really missed it, but it bothered friends and relatives that we didn’t have one. For the next twenty years or so, someone would give us a TV, we’d have it for several years until it broke, we’d be without a TV, this would bother friends and relatives and someone would give us a new TV. I’m not anti TV, but I don’t see that it adds much to our household. Asking the networks to do better and finding alternatives is, I think, a constructive approach.

  2. Terry Henry says:

    I can’t help but think (all the contrary evidence notwithstanding) that a couple of days of a “nation-wide” TV blackout would benefit us all. I am sometimes caught between the “…that’s the way it is and it won’t change until Jesus comes back” or the Christian activism type profile. I think the Frances Shaffer model would suit us better. He said in one of his books that if there had been more Christian lawyers, Roe v Wade would have turned out different.(a huge leap but somehow connected to activism) At this point in history, most blacks are living in a self-genocide mode are are having more abortions done than whites percentage wise.Bishop Wellington Boone said that if things in the black community continue at present course they will only have half as many people in just a few years.

  3. Craig V. says:

    I used to be involved in many activist activities. I did a lot of work in the pro life movement and I was also fighting for the rights of those with disabilities living in Los Angeles. I’ve lost my passion for activism. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I’m just tired of conflict. Perhaps I’m discouraged by the sin in our own camp. We should not, however, tire of doing good, so a TV boycott sounds like a good start.

  4. Carey says:

    I haven’t had a TV since the ’80’s so don’t really know what you’re talking about(though we do watch 24 on dvd) but it sounds like you’re trying to bail the Titanic with a coffee can. I did happen to be viewing one this weekend as I was watching my alma mater LSU win the SEC championship, and I noticed that this week’s fare included a “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.” So glad I checked out years ago. If I was young an single, don’t think I could pass that one up. What’s the world coming to?C

  5. Terry Henry says:

    It is really not so much about TV as it is about buying and selling. Hollywood sells via cable and I buy. They control the whole relationship. I really don’t have a say. The internet has changed the way we do business. It is all about CSR (Customer Relationship Management). What I guess I am saying is that I don’t like the way they are controlling my relationship with them. I like the freedom of choosing (so do you) what level I relate to them (having a TV or not). I don’t factor into their metrics anymore. This is not rocket science. There are imperfections in the relationship. I would like them to take my views into consideration and not just look at the bottom line at every turn.

  6. ded says:

    Not sure what to say on this one. I checked out on TV a while ago, though since we have one will watch something occasionally. I really like Lydia’s Cooking on the public broadcast station.I never watch a show all the way through. Nothing captivates me.I like old movies, though. I am really captivated by the new technology. I look at TV’s costing way over what I can spend and think about buying one. Can I justify such to watch a selected set of old movies?Funny how I find myself in both world’s at once. I am not entertained by what is called entertainment, but I really want to own the stuff that delivers the entertainment. At this minute, my watching some special that includes includes the latest “greatest pianist in the world.”Should she not be doing so? Should she be able to do so on the latest version of TV’s because it would allow her a greater sense of being present in his concert?How is what she does in her down time different from me enjoying blogs? Just rambling.

  7. Chip says:

    Sign me up! I’ve bailed on TV like caffeine. Once I got it out of my system I found I didn’t need it that much. I still watch occasional cartoons with the kids or a history special, but everything else is just in 30 second commercial sized bites. For now I’ve dropped the obsession to see every episode of my 2 or 3 favorite shows.Still there is that hope in me that a reasonably pure, well-written show will come along wherein I’ll feel the tug of eternal analogies – seeing truth unwittingly mirrored (about the Bride of Christ in great love stories for instance).But, for now, consider me part of the boycott.

  8. Ben says:

    Here here! I’m with ya.Thought you might like this from Wired. Very funny.http://www.wired.com/gadgets/miscellaneous/commentary/alttext/2006/02/70220

  9. MJH says:

    Although I do watch limited TV, I refuse to subscribe to a cable or satellite service. I am amazed that people pay over $350 per year for TV. If I tried to sell you something for $350 that you knew would only last a year before you had to replace it, you probably wouldn’t buy it. With the contractual obligation required by cable and satellite providers, that is essentially what they are doing. Sorry, I can buy much better things with which to entertain myself.

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