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Less Commercials, More Television


I have written about the inanity of television before, but with this latest season of shows I’m compelled to do it again. For some time now, television has been our primary recreation, educator, trend-setter, and baby sitter, and today, there are more channels than ever before, and more ways to receive them – from discs, dishes, cable, and antennas, to aluminum foil wrapped around the dog’s collar. All of these provide access to a plethora of entertainment, from the ridiculous to the sublime (mostly the ridiculous, but running a close second would be mind-numbing stupid, and “they actually paid someone to make this” tasteless.)

Much of it seems to be a contest between networks to see who can achieve the epitome of vulgarity and insipidness, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re all winning. For years now, we’ve had our intellects insulted by shameless, nearly naked, deceitful people supposedly stranded on islands — “They are totally alone this time! At the mercy of the elements! Will they survive?” — Lord! Do they think we all have coconut juice for brains?  We’re not supposed to know that 10 feet from the pitiful frond hut is an entire Hollywood film crew, complete with boom cameras, helicopters, Heinekens, and Almond Joys? Just when you think they’ve cornered the market on inanity and revulsion, you find yourself beaten into boredom by groups of people locked in houses, or people who gather together to see who can suffer through the most self-demeaning enterprises or choke down the most repulsive of condiments, and bachelors and bachelorettes (of all shapes and sizes) consorting with the opposite sex in twisted travesties of false affection. (I could go on and on but I’m beginning to bore myself).

There are more channels to watch today than you can shake a remote at, and less worth watching than ever before, and to add insult to injury, the few shows that are actually worth watching are inundated by so many commercials, you lose track of where you were in the show.

It’s bad enough that we’re left with such poor choices, but how many of you are actually paying attention to this commercial thing. There are up to 10 two-to-four-minute commercials an hour now. That means you’re watching ads on dysfunctional male problems, feminine hygiene, mood changing drugs and the next inane show for better than half the time you’re staring at the idiot box.

I think I have a solution to all this. I’ve come up with a way we can bring those greedy producers and networks to their knees, and reduce the number of commercials we’re forced to put up with. The viewers of America need to unite through the internet and social medias like Facebook and Twitter. One night a week one network would be chosen to be ostracized. Tens of millions of emails are sent to friends and family members around the country the day before, saying for instance “NO ABC TONIGHT! No one watches anything on that network from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Now, granted, this means sacrifice on the part of viewers, but the reward would be worth it. After a few nights of millions of dollars in lost revenues, they would get the message – “Fewer commercials, more show!”  We could do this, if a handful of significant people picked up the ball and ran with it. “Power to the people,” as they used to say in my day. (Heck, if ABC were being ostracized, Fox would advertise that! And vice-versa. We’d have them fighting each other and doing our work for us!)

Aside from protest, turning off that one-eyed Cyclops that mesmerizes your family each night wouldn’t actually hurt you. Get out a board game and get the whole family involved. Pick up a book and experience the power of your own imagination. Get a hobby, get away from something that tells you how the world is and discover the world for yourself.