15 August 2011

How TV Ruined Your Life

Yesterday I enjoyed a six-part series on the deleterious effects of television by a British comedian, Charlie Booker. The episodes are as follows:

1. "Fear"

In the first episode, Booker takes television to task for its longstanding reliance on stimulating the brain's fear-response centers, beginning with government public safety programs and then moving on to the constant use of violence in drama and the news.

2. "The Life Cycle"

Booker examines the portrayal and targeting of various age groups -- from the depiction of married men as hapless idiots to the way older people are pushed into the periphery.

3. "Aspiration"

Neil Postman, known for Amusing Ourselves to Death, once commented that commercials advocate a way of life and standards of normalcy more than they do actual products. In this third episode, Booker notes the way commercials and some programs (like Dallas) encourage mindless consumerism that keeps people on a hedonic treadmill, forever chasing the carrot and forever failing.

4. "Love"

The depiction of love and romance in movies and in television have given people unreasonable and unhealthy expectations from what to expect of relationships, as they ignore the substance of companionate love and the work of relationships in favor of stories of soul mates meeting and making Big Gestures to impress one another.

5. "Progress"

Here, Booker rages against the notion that people can find everything they want inside a glowing blue green -- from televisions to iPads.

6. "Knowledge"

In this final segment, the host tracks the decline of educational programming from the heights (The Ascent of Man, Civilization), to the gutter -- ghost-hunting shows hunted by idiot celebrities.