I gave up television some while ago, for numerous reasons.
I find it patronising, repetitive, boring, irritatingly hypnotic, and the adverts drive me mad. I don’t much feel like forking out for a TV licence when I barely watched television anyway. I prefer the radio, which does not sap my attention in the same way. I prefer to read, to write, to do stuff on the internet, rather than to plug myself into the horrors of our tacky, sex-mad (as long as it’s patriarchy sex anyway), sexist, shallow modern culture: truly it is the opiate of the masses. I worried about the effect on Baby M of too much TV (and those adverts in particular – advertising is evil, and advertising aimed at children is the worst of the lot because it is totally unscrupulous and children have not developed the healthy cynicism that helps to keep the rest of us sane). I quite like the happy, smug feeling of not knowing what people are talking about when they say things like: “You know that advert on telly with the chickens in the factory?” or “Ooh, did you see [insert generic reality show here] last night, who do you reckon is going to get thrown out this week?” In short, I felt that I could happily live without it – and I can.
So imagine my feelings then, on approaching a week at my parent’s house where I would probably be seeing some television every day, stranded as I was from my internet lifeline. What would it be like to “come back” to TV after such a long break?
I can report that Countdown is still a good half an hour’s entertainment, with Des Lynam making a suitable substitute for the late, great Richard Whiteley. (Er, actually they’ve stretched it out to three-quarters of an hour, which is probably a bit too loong. But still good.)
Also, I would have liked to see Gloucester v Bristol in the Anglo-Welsh Cup (especially as Gloucester hammered their neighbours – almost as satisfying as beating Bath), but it was on BBCi and the Red Button does not seem to work in Spain.
Aside from that, however, my dabble with the televisual delights on offer during the week has confirmed that actually, yes, I can live quite happily without TV. I plan to blog a couple of programmes separately, but for now I can say that:
- Coronation Street is just as claustrophobic and mind-numbing as it ever was.
- Tonight with Trevor McDonald is just as lightweight and depressing as ever. The episode I saw carried out a stupid, shallow “analysis” of what it called, in its usual populist style, “The G Factor”. It usefully concluded that families who try to do their bit for the environment, to reduce waste and carbon emissions, are actually rubbish (haha, nice pun) because they don’t do more. Yes, OK, so you grow your own vegetables and take eco-holidays to help save endangered turtles. But if you really cared about the environment, you’d go camping in your neighbour’s field instead, think of all those carbon eating aeroplane miles. Grr. Nothing here but grist to the mill of the can’t-be-bothered-doesn’t-make-any-difference-no-point-trying-to-change-the-world-take-those-smug-eco-nutters-down-a-peg-or-two lazy-git faction. Innit.
- Then there is the sheer awfulness of nasty, sexist, not-even-plausible offerings such as the film The American President (powerful man gets to shag less powerful woman who is in love with him), Spooks (powerful man is saved by self-sacrifice of less powerful woman who is in love with him) and Wire in the Blood* (powerful man solves killings masterminded by powerful-but-deluded-man, in each case assisted by less powerful women who may or may not be in love with them).
[* So good my Dad made me (well, suggested that I) read the book – which I did: read my thoughts here.]
All in all, yes, I can do without this TV thing.