The Independence Journal
Cyclops in the living room
Lights, Cameras, Programming
“Do you suffer from indigestion? You may have a disease. Doctors recommend you take Ouch. Caution is urged when taking this drug as its side effects may be more hideously painful than your indigestion. This drug is only available through your doctor’s prescription. The corporate-medical industry brings this message to you”.
This statement may resemble any number of advertisements you have seen and heard on your television. This ad and all other ads, along with the “entertainment” are all geared to program you.
If its important that you consider yourself an independent person and have a television or multiple televisions in your home, you may want to adjust your . . . hold it! Don’t attempt to change your horizontal, your vertical, your perceptions, we’re in charge.
The Birth of the Beast
· “Our goal is simple: come September 7, 2002, we want everybody who turns on a television set to know that date is the anniversary of the day the medium arrived on this planet – and to know the name of the man who delivered it.”
--Paul Schatzkin, author of “The Boy Who Invented Television”
It is little known that the inventor of the television as we know it today, were the results of the dreams and desire of a l4-year old farm boy, Philo Taylor Farnsworth, born in Beaver, Utah.
At the 2002 Emmy Awards telecast, Philo Taylor Farnsworth was honored as “the inventor of electric television”. And the inventor’s 94-year old widow, Pem Farnsworth and family members (their favorite program is the West Wing) were invited to take part in the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Invention of Television: September 7, 1927 – September 7, 2002.
Philo Farnsworth, it has been said that at the age of six he had confided to his father his heart’s desire, that he had been “born an inventor”. By age 12 he was demonstrating a natural affinity for all things electrical. Then came ideas, and at age l4, the design, of which dominated his thoughts: “pictures that could fly through the air” by radio waves. With that came the experiments. Experiments that would continue until he was 20 years old.
Though it was 1930 when Farnsworth was granted patents, it was 7 September 1927, when his experiments in his lab were a success. He had created the basic electrical design of transmitting images that is still used in the manufacture of every video system in the world today. And it was here in Farnsworth’s lab that Vladimir Zworykin had come to visit Farnsworth. It has been reported Zworykin said, during that visit, he wished he had been the inventor when he saw Farnsworth’s Image Dissector.
During the 1930’s he fought the formidable Vladimir Zworykin and the Radio Corporation of America, (RCA) to hold on to his patents. The patent war went to trial and in 1932 Farnsworth won the patents for his invention, to include the camera tube Farnsworth had named the Image Dissector. In 1939, RCA agreed to pay royalties for Farnsworth’s patents.
World War II was the focus of most citizens and industry; television didn’t make its debut until the late 1940’s. By then the name of television’s principal inventor Philo T. Farnsworth, had slid into obscurity. The corporation RCA had won. It went on to dominate the television market. Encyclopedias credited his arch rival at RCA, Vladimir Zworykin with inventing television.
Farnsworth’s early prediction made to his high school science teacher that some day every one would have his device in their homes is very near to its mark.
Approximately 98% of U.S. households own one TV set, 64% have two or more sets.
Scientists have been studying the effects of television for decades. A sentence taken from a book written in 1972 by George Gerbner has been quoted to read as follows, “Less attention has been paid to the basic allure of the small screen – the medium, as opposed to the message.”
· “We are no longer an industrialized society; we aren’t even a post-industrial or technological society. We are now a corporate society, a corporate world, a corporate universe. This world is a vast cosmology of small corporations orbiting around larger corporations who, in turn, revolve around giant corporations, and this whole endless, eternal, ultimate cosmology is expressly designed for the production and consumption of useless things . . . “
--Written by Paddy Chavefsky, author of the 1976 movie “Network”
AOL Time Warner is the largest media conglomerate worldwide. The $165 billion mega-merger between AOL and Time Warner, approved by the FCC in January 2001, is the largest media merger in history. Its interests are in Film, Internet, TV, Publishing, Recreation (Sports teams), and a string of music interests.
A $50 billion merger between Viacom and CBS Corporation was completed in May 2000. Viacom is now the second largest media conglomerate worldwide.
This conglomerate is comprised of Television Networks, Radio Stations, Theater Operations, Video, Internet, Publishing, Famous Music Publishing (copyright owners), Theme Parks, Paramount Parks, Infinity, Outdoor TDI Worldwide – the largest outdoor advertising group in the U.S., and the Star Trek franchise.
The Walt Disney company is the third largest global media conglomerate. You know how big Disney is it’s everywhere! But, this gives you an idea of how mammoth AOL Time Warner and Viacom must be! Goofy, Mickey and Nemo and still third!
The Satellite industry isn’t any slouch either. An industrious competitor, Rupert Murdoch’s New Corporation, plans to take over Direct-TV, the largest and most powerful provider of satellite service across the nation.
· TV-Free America -Turnoff Network, a national nonprofit organization was founded in 1994. The Turnoff Network’s mission is to encourage children and adults to watch less television in order to promote healthier lives and communities. This year’s National TV-Turnoff week that took place in April, over 7 million people participated in over 17,000 organized Turnoffs this year, in every state in the U.S., as well as numerous other countries.
Although the Turnoff Network acknowledges it may be unrealistic to think participants will never watch TV again, it is plausible each hour away from television will tend to promulgate other activities. Also this turn-off may offer insight as to how the TV exerts its pull and may help individuals gain better control over their lives. For many, when the TV is turned on again, they’ll discover they regard TV in a much different way.
You might be inclined at this point, to ask about the nature programs, what harm is that? The Turnoff Network suggests, simply go do your own investigating of nature. The interaction is more rewarding and stimulating. Vicarious living or substitute living, for example, is the root of the recent TV reality shows, like “Survivor”.
While one may take this stand; the hoopla stirred by a nosey lot of busybodies regarding watching television, is an infringement on the right to live their life any way they want and if that includes watching TV, butt out! Then the case in point is in their favor. However, the advocacy is not about watching TV, but rather more likened to a caution. After all, we can’t all be foolish enough to believe that brain-washing doesn’t exist, unless the years of media programming was more wildly successful than believed possible!
“I thank the Congress for reducing the chances that the hours spent in church or synagogue or in discussion around the dinner table about right and wrong and what can and cannot happen in the world will not be undone by unthinking hours in front of a television set.”
--Former U.S. President Bill Clinton upon signing the Telecommunications Act of 1996 on the V-Chip, designed to help parents block out violence on television.
Nationally recognized specialist’s in the fields of health and mind, express concern and remedies to cut down on TV watching. To name a few, the U.S. Surgeon General, American Academy of Pediatrics and Physicians for Social Responsibility and the National Educator’s Association.
Their contributions, the result of their studies, are generally recognized as a guideline from which we draw our core skills in growing our children. And furthermore their contributions are also beneficial to the adult as well. Adult’s that adopt and utilize their learning and teaching methods attain the desire to take responsibility.
American schoolchildren are estimated to spend more than 1,000 hours in front of the television each year – more time than they spend in school. Even children as young as 2 years old typically log hundreds of TV-hours annually.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has made clear, as statement of policy, that television is bad for young children under the age of 2 years and reportedly has advised their pediatrician members to urge parents to avoid placing these children at risk by exposing them to television viewing. Also, their advice is that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents or significant care givers, for healthy brain growth. Which is necessary for development of appropriate social, emotional and cognitive skills.
One report states the responses from some media commentators when asked about this Academy policy, was a mixed bag of responses. “ Nonsense”, offered one commentator, while another hastily defending their program “ . . . it’s safe because . . .” and yet another responds, “ . . . anything done in moderation . . .” A cynic may be inclined to wonder are these commentators aliens?
For those earth people who are interested and believe the 55,000 Academy members, the Academy further advises its members to ask parents of children that have eating disorders and are obese, about their media habits. This report and the fact derived from a study in 1996 that exposure to television caused delayed acquisition of language in toddlers, makes a powerful argument against TV.
How many parents turned the television set into a nanny, or a babysitter, for their children who are now parents themselves repeating the process with their little ones?
Does your child care center or designated caregivers have a television? Is it on every time you deliver and pick up you child?
Students who watch less than one or two hours of TV a day consistently have better reading skills than other students do – and this disparity increases at higher-grade levels. Watch less – be smarter!
Watching less television also means less exposure to a wide array of antisocial behaviors, including violence, over-consumption, and racial and gender stereotyping. Which can quite logically, based on our good doctor’s reports on their studies, lead to the development of a personality of indifference and callousness.
· There are ad’s intentionally aimed at the kiddie viewers to establish an allegiance, to seal the fate of the future consumer. Do the purveyors of ads and programming know this? It’s like asking does a dog bark? Of course they know. Is Barbie popular? And do most young children demand specific items by trade brands?
The ad people are our fellow human beings and there may be a strong possibility that within this group, some are probably mommies and daddies. They know what we know and then some, its their job to know. But is there an ethical process?
They have access to many areas of research. One area of research is a joint project of Cornell and Ithaca Colleges: The Center for Research on the Effects of Television, (CRETV). This project boosts an impressive following of organizations and businesses to include TV Networks and TV-Free America.
It seems mighty strange these two powers are sifting through the same box of knowledge and facts to achieve opposite goals.
· So, knowing all this do you think you are impervious to the programming promoted through the use of TV? Let’s check it out.
Even researchers who study TV for a living marvel at the TV’s hold on them personally. Percy Tannenbaum of the University of California at Berkeley has been quoted to say, “ Among life’s more embarrassing moments have been countless occasions when I am engaged in conversation in a room while a TV set is on, and I cannot for the life of me stop from periodically glancing over to the screen. This occurs not only during dull conversations but during reasonably interesting ones just as well.”
You spend hours staring at a piece of furniture. Why?
A report from “Voice of America” states that in Baghdad, satellite dishes have “mushroomed” since the city fell victim to the bombings. An owner of one of the dishes, whose wife was reported as saying the dish cost $250.00, but worth it, because out of the 200 available channels she could watch one of her favorite stations, “Al Jazeera”. And when asked about how this product has affected her five children she responded, “They have to go to bed by 9 p.m. and can only watch certain programs.”
The tease works, bring something strange into a home and tell the curious young that they can’t investigate it. It has dominion over the home.
Surveys have consistently shown that roughly 10 percent of adults call themselves TV addicts.
In a typical American household, a television set is on for seven hours every day. American adults spend an equivalent of two full months every year watching television.
Author and New York University Professor Neil Postman, is reported to say, “on television, discourse is conducted largely through visual imagery, which is to say that television gives us a conversation in images, not words . . . “ He goes on to say, “The world as given to use through television seems natural, not bizarre,” he adds. “Our culture’s adjustment to the epistemology of television is by now all but complete; we have so thoroughly accepted its definitions of truth, knowledge, and reality that irrelevance seems to be filled with import, and incoherence seems eminently sane.”
According to Harvard Economist Juliet Schor, she has been reported to say the images we see on television inflate our sense of what is normal, introduce us to a new richer reference group, and in turn raise our aspiration to consume.
A study by the Merck Family Fund found a correlation between how long people watch TV and how heavily indebted they are. As the number of viewing hours increase so does the increase in spending.
The U.S. Surgeon General warns of the seductive ads on TV for junk foods. Obesity is now the number two cause of preventable death in the U.S., second only to smoking. The obesity rate is more than one in four American adults and more than one in 10 children. A Memphis State University study has shown that while watching TV the metabolic rate drops down an average of 14.5 lower than it would be if lying in bed – no other waking activity is as sedentary as watching TV.
Many seniors spend a lot of time in front of the TV, according to a study. An average senior devotes 26 hours a week or 56 days a year solely to the TV. One doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist is reported to say, “Seniors can quickly become mentally and physically disabled if they watch too much television.” And he adds, “Television viewing not only ages your body, it impairs your mind. Television simply isn’t an activity that exercises your brain very much.”
· “Using a television without an appropriate licence is a criminal offence. Every day we catch an average of 1,200 people using a TV without a licence. There is no valid excuse for using a television and not having a TV Licence, but some people still try – sometimes with the most ridiculous stories ever heard. Our detection equipment will track down your TV. The fact that our enquiry officers are now so well equipped with the latest technology means that there is virtually no way to avoid detection.”
--From the official website of the British Television Licensing Authority, May 2003
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a government agency that has the power to tax and enforce laws. A color television license is around $192.00 a year and a black and white TV cost is around $64.00 a year. The cost goes up each year. The Television Licensing Agency (TVLA) keeps track of all the TV sets in the country and who owns them. Each TV has an oscillator (low power transmitter) that relays data that keeps the TVLA posted on its whereabouts.
A perspective that televisions are merely television sets, tools that are used as mechanisms in which desired outcomes may be attained, is not lost on the UK.
· Arbitron Inc., is currently testing their newest intelligence technology to rival the science named “Big Brother is Watching” (BBIW). As you may know, Nielsen (as in, “rating”) has been the long-standing partner of BBIW. However, Nielsen may be asked to step down for a new hi-tech replacement, the “portable people meter” or PPM. Its modern sleuthing technology will focus on tracking its victim’s voracious and fickle appetites that have been successfully commercial-generated.
PPM is reported to be the size of a hand held pager, which means you will be happy to have a technologically contrived device in your hand 24 hours a day, particularly the kids and teenagers. To convey harmlessness and the ease of use there isn’t any skill required for its operation. You may continue on with your everyday activities while it automatically identifies what you see and hear.
Whaddaya think? The kids will love it! And while we’re at it, let’s buy another TV.
· “By accepting the universal neurosis, the individual is spared the task of forming a personal neurosis”.
All contents © 2004 George A. Ure
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