From the Braver Institute
I don’t have television. Well, that’s not completely true. I have a television, but I don’t have cable or satellite service. I don’t even have an antenna to pick up local broadcasts. I subscribe to Netflix and use that service to watch a movie now and then, and to provide occasional entertainment for my daughters.
When I pay a visit to Ma Braver I am able to catch up on all of the great television programming that I am not missing out on. Each time I turn on the television I am amazed at the sheer quantity of realitybased programming out there. I think if you have always had television you may not realize just how much of this stuff has crept into the programming schedules of almost every channel on the dial.
Once upon a time reality television was largely based on dysfunctional groups of people forced to interact with each other in less than normal environments. It was during this period that I determined that the world was certainly at its end since this is what the populace was embracing as entertainment. I knew that I wanted no part of it.
As time passed, some of the cable networks started producing reality shows that were less “train wreck in a cage” type of fare and more … well … reality. They started focusing on the real lives of real people, and while some of it may be staged or scripted, it was still fairly true to real life happenings. These networks were appearing to take a higher road.
For a moment I actually found myself applauding these shows. I thought about how cool it was that real life was more interesting than what Hollywood had been trying to push on us. The top minds in entertainment couldn’t think up something more interesting than the lives of truck drivers and fishing boat captains. Real life can’t be topped by make believe. How cool is that?
I snapped back to reality (no pun intended) when I had the misfortune of watching Home and Garden Television. It didn’t take long for me to realize why the rest of the world hates America. HGTV is the reason why the rest of the world hates America.
It is my impression that every show on HGTV consists of yuppies whining about how they “need” a bigger home. How they “need” fourteen bathrooms. How they “need” a living room, entertainment room, rec room, smoking room, den, lounge, billiard room, and television room. These people have two kids but they “need” eight bedrooms.
These people look at other homes and declare that they could never live in a place with such an atrocious view out their rear sun porch overlooking the enclosed pool and hot tub.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t fault these people for being successful. I think it is great that they are able to realize the American dream, but unfortunately almost everything on TV is perceived as a reflection of the way things really are for most of us, or at least the way they should be. It gives the impression that if you don’t live in a half-amillion dollar (or more) home you are somehow failing in life.
I can only imagine what the rest of the world thinks when they see these shows. No wonder we have people trying to get into the country by any means possible. They all think that a pair of fashion model realtor/contractor brothers are going to welcome them and set them up in a mansion in the suburbs.
I’m not going to pretend that this somehow makes me virtuous, but I lived in the woods for several years—first in a converted school bus, then in a slide-in camper, and finally in a mansion of a one room cabin.
It was a real adjustment when I first moved out there. I found out what things I truly needed. I needed food. I needed clothing. I needed shelter.
The woods is also where I found out what I didn’t need and I found that I didn’t need television.
I was too busy living to let my free time tick away in front of a tv set. Certainly our lives are more interesting than spending our evenings in a Barcalounger watching someone else’s life, aren’t they?
Instead of watching reality TV, be reality TV.
— — —