How can we consciously watch TV?

I was speaking to a family friend, who happens to be a Child Psychologist about Television. In previous conversations, she explained how she doesn’t own a TV because she believes everything it has to offer poisons the mind, and that the media is brainwashing everyone, most importantly “our children”. While I agree with her analysis that TV plays a huge part in “brain-washing”, I don’t agree that the solution is to completely remove TV from our lives.

It’s taken me a good five years wrestling with this notion that there is a certain group of people who believe people inactively absorb TV into their minds. My question was, “Do most individuals really just WATCH TV instead of actively participating?”

Coming from a family deeply involved in the entertainment industry, having enjoyed trips to my dad’s 30 year job at a major television network, I was raised to not only enjoy TV, but to question the ins and outs of what makes TV tick. How did they shoot that scene? Who produced this? Why did the Executive Producer of that news program choose to air this story? Is this “reality show” truly realistic?

I didn’t realize this experience was completely unique until this Child Psychologist friend made me think about all the people who “look at TV”. Lets discuss this. I now believe that most people in America purely “look” at TV. This only entails staring at moving figures within a box while figuratively plugging your brain in and merely living through the experience. Looking at TV takes place instead of what I refer to as “active participation in entertainment”.

It’s a cool thing for scholars and people with a “holier than thou” attitude to say, “I don’t watch TV, it’s all garbage. I watch Academy Award Winning films, and read the New York Times.” First of all, you’re probably lying, I know you like to watch JWowww shake her silicone embellishments. Second of all, contrary to how you’re attempting to portray yourself, you sound ignorant.

My solution to this ideology that TV BRAINWASHES us, is to challenge everyone currently reading this to try to watch TV CONSCIOUSLY as opposed to SUBCONSCIOUSLY. Tonight, during Grey’s Anatomy, marvel at Shonda Rimes’ fantastic writing skills, or maybe question why did the director decide to go with a fade-to-black transition instead of a dissolve-to-black transition. My job, as a media/gender/journalism studies graduate is to ask these questions with you and maybe help people learn to actively participate in entertainment, instead of being afraid of it.


3 Responses to “How can we consciously watch TV?”
  1. Nicole LaDue says:

    Hi Faith, Just a thought… instead of thinking “brainwashing”, what about “miseducation”. The utter lack of science literacy in the media is astounding and is actually a problem. People are not making decisions based on what we know to be true, but some sensationalized “debate” that the news shows try to drum up in order to get ratings. Watching US news versus the BBC news is evidence enough for that. That said, you’re right – we should take our entertainment as just that. The problem with the “reality” hype is that many of us know it’s not reality, while some of us are obviously thinking it is.

    I do like your idea of being conscious of TV as art. I also think it has sociological value (looking at commercials, programing/time of day, etc). Lots of cool stuff to mine there.

    Just had to throw in my two cents about science 🙂

    • faith says:

      Word. I agree with you. I’m totally guilty, though of watching TV for Entertainment, and consulting books and journals when I want to be educated about something. I kind of think it’s pointless to begin to consult TV programming for education. For example, TLC (The LEARNING Channel) isn’t helping me learn anything useful. Its just amazingly entertaining. I definitely agree with you though.

  2. Korkie says:

    I have a few shows I actually watch. Most of the time the TV is on as background noise.

    The media has completely turned be off. It’s more of a vicious gossip rag than authentic non-bias news.
    I think there may actually be two or three anchor people I will watch. In this instance I am referring to cable news. I rarely watch non-cable tv.

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