The Bum's Dime

Earlier today I was reading Thay's Peace is Every Step and it inspired me to write a little regarding television. For years now I have been preaching against television. It is not that the medium itself is all that terrible, in fact it is an extremely powerful way to communicate. Abbie Hoffman, in several of his books, identifies it as a tool that can transfix and communicate beyond all other forms of media, but he also identifies it as a dangerous and mind altering weapon. I fear that it has become the frontline of the propaganda and advertising (they are one in the same really war waged on all of our minds). This box that sits so inconspicuously in our living rooms broadcasts imformation that becomes imbedded in our minds, and sometimes this information has little to know value or worse yet it has a brainwashing effect. Television has the power to take a person from where they are sitting and place them in no existent social situations. It is constantly transmitting the cutting edge of culture, what is cool, and most of all, what is 'normal'. No one wants to be the dope that does not know what is going on in the world and popular culture. It is always trying to sell something, whether overtly or in a more subtle manner. There is an endless stream of commercials that bombard us between every program with no exceptions (I recently watched a documentary on Youtube regarding the Weather Underground and every 15 minutes the program was stopped to play a commercial, excuse my french, but for FUCKS! sake, even radical revolutionary movements are subject to commercials).Thay comments that many times it is embedding violence and anger into our heads with its sensational and entertaining programs. Even though I have preached these thoughts many, many, many times and to countless people, I have been guilty of mindlessly sitting in front of it for hours. It seems to have a stranlge hold on our culture, many people can not even be in a room for too long without it turned on. I find myself often sucked into its programming even the commercials. In the past year however I have taken the steps to reduce its influence on my mind. First I removed it from my bedroom, then I carefully chose what I would watch and how much, but neither of these proved to be enough. About 6 months ago I rid myself completely of cable, and since then I have found much more peace at home and in my spare time. I still occassionally watch programs at frineds houses that I enjoy (there are very few, mainly It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and South Park; we all have vices right?), but I no longer feel glued to it when I watch it. I take everything that I see on it in a skeptical manner (really I take everything I see and or hear in a skeptical manner) beacuse I feel that almost everything that is on it has a agenda that I do not agree with. I can not help feeling as though I am on a soapbox while writing this but I felt that it is something that is pertinent to how I have choosen to live my life.


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    August 2009



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