Monday, July 20, 2009

Kill my television!!

I try not to be a TV snob. Many people seem suspicious that I'm a snob when they find out I don't watch TV. Actually, I do watch TV! I just don't watch it in my own home.

I watched TV on Saturday. We were in Baltimore for Otakon and to see some museums. Otakon holds little interest for me at this time, so I decided to skip it and go to the art festival instead. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the art festival. So I spent most of Saturday chillin' in the hotel room with some books, a laptop, and a TV while Husband'o'mine had fun at Otakon.

I watched Hawthorne, an ER-style drama with a focus on the nurses. The nurses are the protagonists, and the antagonists range from the doctors and the patients to Social Services employees. In one subplot, a young boy was orphaned, and the nurses endeavored to rescue him from the evil foster care system. Yay for irresponsibly representing a necessary social service that is already widely misunderstood and viewed with suspicion! I especially loved the line, "We can't let him go into foster care! We get foster children in the ER all the time and you know how messed up they are."

Yeah, it's the foster care system taking in these perfectly healthy, well-adjusted children and messing them up.

Then I saw an adoption program on MTV in which they followed a private domestic adoption tep by step, interviewing the teen mom and dad and then the adoptive family. There was lot of crying. It actually wasn't too bad. If it educates other teen moms and makes them feel better about opting for a private adoption, then it's performing a pretty decent public service.

Then I watched Mission Impossible... okay, whatever. Bleah. Way too much gratuitous suspense and violence. Action shows try too hard these days. Dial it down a few notches and try to tell a good story, guys.

I also caught snippets of shows on other channels. I'd heard that Fox News had a new commentator who was just awful - Glenn Beck or something. I saw 30 seconds of him. He combined 'shock jock' with 'big dumb jock'... and the result was predictably unwatchable.

Then I caught the very beginning of SNL, with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. She was hilarious! Now I know what all the hype was about. The skit immediately following hers was crude and pointless, though, as I remember SNL being back in the '90's. That was the end for me.

Prohibiting television is part of the caricature of the overprotective, overly doting helicopter parent that has arisen in the past 20 years. Obsessed mommies posting, "I would never let my children watch Sesame Street!", outdoing the parents who buy every episode of Baby Einstein for their 1-year-olds. I don't know what I'm talking about, however... if there is a culture of super-parents, I've mostly only heard of it through other, saner, more sensible parents critiquing it.

(In fact I just read a book called It Takes a Parent by blogger Betsy Hart. Its sole purpose was to critique the so-called parenting culture. That book contains almost everything I now know about super-parents.)

Personally, I'm very cynical about television. I was a TV junkie into my adolescence, but i grew up (and TV didn't). And my baby is not going to watch a lot of television.

Someday he'll watch it at his friends' houses. I won't forbid it entirely. But he won't be watching it at home. Am I overprotective? Or am I a snob? Is my decision more about his well-being, or mine?

Mine, actually. I freely admit it. But please note that it fits in well with the culture here. Many houses on Cape Cod don't have TVs. People retreat to their summer homes here to leave the noise and the TV behind. Sure, we're full-timers instead of summer residents. But, still, we are not exactly freaks.

As for the kiddo, he'll get to see the occasional DVD and maybe catch a glimpse of TV elsewhere. He'll be all right. Some parents swear by the Blue Babyitter, and that's all right too. Some parents may warn me that I'll find it hard to avoid a routine of plunking him down in front of a cartoon every day and getting some rest myself.

But, see, what this issue really boils down to is that we don't have cable, satellite, or even a pair of rabbit ears. The boob tube in our living room gets no reception. None. Nada. And inertia is going to keep it that way. We haven't gotten off our duffs and bought TV reception in 5 years, and there's too much other stuff going on to do it now.

We're certainly not bored without it. Noble Cloud won't be, either. Not if he doesn't know what he's missing.

When he's old enough to figure out what he's missing, we'll revisit the issue. But I see enough snatches of TV outside my home to remember why I prefer life without it.

(Also, I get a kick out of answering someone's insistent, "Did you see that program? Didja see it? Wasn't it great?" with a slightly airy, "Oh... we don't have a TV." Hee!)

Sidenote: Otakon had one wonderful thing going for it - fantastic ethnic diversity. When we start taking the Cloud to cons, Otakon's going on the list. We want him to see that geeks come in all shapes, sizes, costumes, and ethnicities - especially ethnicities.

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