Most of us were raised watching television. It’s as normal as reading or clipping your toenails. But step away for a month or so and come back to it… watching TV with fresh eyes is an uncomfortable experience. Much like finally bringing yourself to read the nutritional information of that delicious muffin you’ve been eating every morning. Television programs haven’t become more violent as much as they have become more gritty and realistic in their violence. Stakes are higher than ever, situations more extreme, and plot lines pull on our heart strings to manipulate us into watching the next episode. Also TV culture reinforces stereotypes about men, women, homosexuals, people of color- all stereotypes few would ever admit have any validity. It doesn’t create paranoia and prejudice, but it does reinforce ideas that should have been left behind years ago. Not to mention reality TV, which does nothing less than celebrate the most useless among us. There are more commercial breaks now than ever before: it takes 2 hours to watch a 90 minute movie on cable- I timed it. And on top of that, we pay for it. We pay money that we earn, to watch TV, to support the worst parts of our culture and bolster stereotypes that must die before we can move forward. Don’t just turn off your TV. Throw it out.
By Magdalen O’Reilly