Television: more tele or more vision?

T.V. is Satan

I thought of beginning with the statement “T.V. is God,” but I’m genuinely confident that T.V is watched by God; this corollary obviously leaves us at the zenith of a metaphysical quagmire and that’s an uncomfortable place to be. So instead I contend that T.V. is Satan incarnated, who, due to his (or her) unwavering devotion to his (or her) extracurricular activities, doesn’t have time for T.V. This theory precludes any philosophical quandaries and allows me to plead my case without a guilty conscience.

T.V. is Satan incarnated. It is a piece of inanimate matter that persuades people, through convincing arguments like beer commercials, that it deserves warm love and affection for many hours at a time. Day after day, sitcom after sitcom, Jerry Springer after Jerry Springer, we satisfy its lust for the attention it craves. Now, if we were eternal beings and had all the time we wanted and needed to love everything and anything, then it would be O.K. to love the tube. But, dear friends, our lives here are short (even shorter than that) and our time limited, and instead of taking a lover to bed, we don suits of heavy armor and vengefully fight each other for control of the clicker. This is bad.

Perhaps I can elucidate with an example. Joe comes home. He pats Mrs. Joe on the head, sits down in front of Satan and watches E.R. Joe does not say “Honey, you looks so marvelous tonight, as you do every night, that I will make love to you despite it being the season finale of E.R.” Nor does he say “Sugarlips, let’s run away to Tahiti.” No. He just watches George Clooney and drinks the beer he saw in a commercial with dancing frogs.

Perhaps we need another example. Williams College is a unique place where there are 2000 incredible people all of whom have talent oozing out of their ears. However, many of these students think that intellectual discourse is a silly endeavor, being fully convinced that Jennifer Aniston’s penetrating insights into life are much more scintillating than they could ever make them. So they continue to gaze into her television eyes and ignore all life around them.

T.V. also rots the brain. Just ask Kurt Vonnegut. Instead of synthesizing your own thoughts and ideas, the T.V. says “Don’t move. Don’t think. Don’t synthesize. I’ll do it for you.” So instead of Brothers Karamazov and Alyosha, it’s Wheel of Fortune! and Vanna White.

And then one of my frosh says to me:

“Can we get cable?…C’mon. There’s this really pretty girl who lives in HBO World that makes me want to dance.”

“But Andy,” I reply patiently, “What if you actually went out and met a live girl like the one you see on HBO?”

A brief pause of contemplation. “But it’s so cold out there,” says Andy. “I’d have to put on a jacket.”

Seems like the damage is already done.

T.V. is God

Those of us who lead lives of quiet desperation know the joy that is television. In fact, euphoria spelled backwards is N-O-I-S-I-V-E-L-E-T. Without television we would not know the ecstasy that erupts every time Homer Simpson utters the mellifluous words “Mmmmm. 64 slices of American cheese.” Nor would we know who Kermit the Frog is. Or Al Bundy. Without television, we would not know about the mating rituals of wild cougars (as seen on the learning channel). And who would tell us about Pamela Anderson’s breast reduction? The New York Times?

Television links us to worlds about which we can only fantasize. It enriches our spirit and gives us hope. It is an elixir of recovery after that incomprehensible physics exam. It is an island of relaxation and soothing piÔa coladas.

If life were meant to be all work and no play, then God would not have given man the capacity to invent television. In fact, doesn’t God himself (or herself) watch television religiously to keep tabs on us? Especially ABC’s Dateline with Peter Jennings?

And Monday Night Football. Can you picture Monday Night Football without a television set?

Furthermore, without people watching television commercials, our economy would collapse. People would not be aware of the newest Lexus SUVs, an ignorance which would force the Lexus factory plants to shut down, which would in turn cause higher unemployment rates, thereby crashing the stock market and entering the United States in another great depression where apples would cost $135 dollars a dozen.

And then there’s the Mystery Science Theater effect: can there possibly be a higher quality bonding experience than gathering with a group of friends to make fun of every sentence to come out of the mouths of Regis and Kathy Lee? Many lifelong friendships owe their incipience to said activity over a warm cup of cocoa.

And need I mention the biography channel?

It is quite clear that man’s intellectual capacities are expanded by television. Be proud. Watch T.V.