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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Shoot Your TV

I don't consider myself a prude, never have been, hopefully never will be. Of those of you who know me personally, can I get a witness? Those of you who don't, well, consider yourselves lucky!

I've never been to a Hooters restaurant, and don't plan to in the future. Why? Not for prude reasons to be sure, but philosopical ones - their business model insults what little intelligence I have, so I don’t play their game. The unassailable Mrs. Bruck might be offended by the overt eye candy, so my choice not to go there is partially out of respect for her sensibilities, but what really offends me is the prospect that by doing business with them I'm tacitly conceding that I'm such a loser that I need to pay a pretty girl to talk to me. And from what I've heard, the food there isn't that great either. By contrast, there's a Polish restaurant in Hamtramck, MI that I absolutely love. The waitresses there all look like porn stars, leading me to wonder if food delivery is just one of the services they offer, but be that as it may, I go there for their fantastic dill pickle soup and other tradtional Polish fare. And I would still go there if their waitresses looked like Helen Thomas with a hangover. But I digress.

When the first child of Bruck was born in the early 90's we made a concious commitment to turn off the TV. We still own one (it’s about as old as the first COB), and watching broadcast or cable TV isn't taboo in our household; we just made TV, or I should say the regular watching thereof, not a part of our lives. Why? Again, a philosophical reason: it's important to pay attention to who gets to put stuff into our kids' (and our, for that matter) brains on a regular basis. We decided that TV producers and executives should not be on the short list.

What have we missed? Not much, I've found. A few clever sitcoms, some history and nature shows on cable TV, lots of commercials. I've had variants of the following conversation more times than I can remember:

"Did you see ______ last night (TV show or commercial)?"
"No."
…more conversation, etc.
"Did you see last week's episode of _______ ?"
"No, I really don't watch much TV, just the occasional sporting event."
"Oh, that's good, yeah, that's a good idea. I should do that."
…more conversation…
"Did you see _______ when so-and-so did such-and-such?"

And what have we gained? A lot more time, and I do mean a lot. Add up the number of hours you spend with your head in the technicolor sewer and you'll see what I mean.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a complete non-TV-user. I watch some sports (go Wings!), and occasionally watch episodes of The Office on the internet. And yes, I do recognize that there is a certain amount of positive programming out there. I'm just saying, think about the average level of enjoyment and fulfillment you get from X hours TV hypnosis vs. the same time spent in a creative, constructive pursuit and I think you'll see where I’m coming from.

Up to this point, I've taken my usual position of hey, it's my decision, my life, not yours; I don't presume to impose my values upon those who hold different ones, go ahead and watch the idiot box till your brain fries to a crisp for all I care.

Well not anymore. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Turn it off now. Better yet, take it out back and shoot it (in accordance with all applicable laws, restrictions, and ordinances), lest anyone else get the bright idea of plugging it in somewhere else and turning it on! Okay, okay, I know, you watch a lot of DVDs on the TV as well, and you just paid $1700.00 for a 49" HD plasma orgasmatron flat panel. At least you could take a BB gun and shoot the cable/antenna jack, is that too much to ask?

Why the change of heart, Bruck? Well, several weeks ago, I was looking for the Wings game and came across a rather sickening show. I don't know what show it was, and I wasn't going to hang around long enough to find out. In the first scene I saw, there was a young, presumably hetero woman at a social event dominated by lesbians, in which she was explaining, in a somewhat apologetic tone that she felt some kind of connection with the female spirit. The smart, sassy lesbian to whom she was explaining this replied, "if you don't [reference to oral sex], you're not a lesbian," at which point the young woman looked stricken and dismayed - obviously she didn't measure up to that standard! In the next scene, hetero sex was being simulated in a bed, with certain body parts strategically hidden, between two adults, the male of which was simultaneously viewing pornography on a bedside TV. The woman got all huffy when he tried to rewind the tape, and forced him to decide between her and the porn, whereupon he chose the latter. And this was during prime time on a broadcast TV channel, not a "premium" cable channel! Gee, Bruck it sounds like you took quite a big sample. Not really - the scenes I described represented about 15 seconds' worth of programming. Again, I don't consider myself to be a prude; it takes a lot to offend my sensibilities, but in 15 seconds, they managed to pull it off.

But they also gave me an epiphany. The writers and producers of these shows, and the executives that decide to air them are not good people. Hear me? They are NOT GOOD PEOPLE. It would be illegal (except in Alaska), but certainly not immoral or unethical to shoot them, therefore I'm recommending that you shoot your TV instead (in accordance with all applicable laws, restrictions, and ordinances). Since we can't stem the filth at the source, we can at least stop it at the output.

Let me digress into a little operational tradecraft for you. People do things based on what they think, and their thinking is based on what they see (/hear, etc.). This is the “See-Think-Do” cycle of human behavior. In order to manipulate a person’s actions and behavior, i.e., get them to “do” something, you have to consider what they would have to be thinking. Then you have to determine what they would need to see or hear (and not see / not hear) in order to motivate that thinking. This is the “Do-Think-See” cycle of behavior manipulation. Now consider who (see above paragraph) is controlling the “See” component of this cycle. Does it make a bit more sense now? And does the argument “I don’t let it affect me” seem just a bit more spurious? Bottom line: I don’t want my family programmed by these diabolical monsters, and frankly, I’m not too keen on having to share precious oxygen with people who are.

The few remaining users of broadcast TV are undoubtedly aware of the changeover from analog to digital TV occuring this year. It's a big topic in my radio club, since everything that goes through the air is some form of radio. When asked if I've made the conversion to digital, my standard answer is, "no." If pressed, I'll offer, "I don't really watch TV. I can get a few channels by patching into the cable modem." But what I'm thinking is, geez, that's like the DEA mandating that all old crack pipes are obsolete and junkies all need to upgrade to the new crack pipe!

And for those of you who don’t own a gun, or live in an area where the 2nd Amendment does not apply to appliances, I suggest dropping your TV into a barrel of acid – I think that would work just as well.

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