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TSE  June 2001

TSE June 2001

Subject:

Re: TSE opinion television and other media

From:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 7 Jun 2001 00:47:54 EDT

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--part1_8d.7a4b1cc.2850617a_boundary
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In a message dated 6/6/01 4:13:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
[log in to unmask] writes:


> While I agree that the "habit" part of the TV culture is bad, I generally
> come down on the opposite end of the debate.  Of course 99 plus percent of
> TV is garbage, from day one, and even worse, addictive garbage; one could
> say that about the invention of movable type.  Just look around any
> supermarket cash register.  The point is the printing press, like TV, is a
> democratization of knowledge, art, et cetera.  

Actually, it's more like the opiate of the masses, and the damage is 
occurring disproportionately to poor children, who can least afford it. 
Middle class children still learn to read, and by the time they reach young 
adulthood they're smarter, slicker, more competitive, more focused and more 
stuffed full of "cultural enrichments" than any generation before them. 
That's why we have so many smart smart smart graduate students, and all those 
young genius whiz-bang dot.com CEOs. 

Meanwhile the skills-income gap is larger than it ever was between the safely 
middle class (what you mean, I think, by "rich") and the truly poor. It's the 
kids from poor families that are more likely to get parked in front of tv 
sets  as if the boob tube was a substitute baby sitter. From the studies I've 
heard about, there's an increase, not decrease, in the number of poor 
children who can't read at grade level, can't fill out a job application, etc 
etc. If you're old enough, you may remember when the streets weren't littered 
with homeless people and when the US army wasn't complaining about its 
problem in finding volunteers who could read well enough to understand 
equipment manuals. So there's a good argument to be made that our society is 
becoming less democratic, not more so, and certainly the income gap has 
widened tremendously. Middle class people are doing better and better, and 
the poor are doing worse and worse. This is not entirely the fault of 
television, but tv seems to me to be part of the problem rather than part of 
the solution.

Before Gutenberg, only the
> top pinnacle of the rich & powerful could actually own a book.  

Not so. Universities date back to the 12th century, and what students did in 
the earliest universities was to write out their own books by taking down, 
verbatim, the lectures of the instructor. There were plenty of poverty 
stricken scholars in the middle ages, who depended on the largesse of their 
patrons. Also, I'd not equate owning books with having access to them. There 
were famous ancient libraries, including the one at Alexandria, and medieval 
monasteries typically had libraries for the use of the monks.

Without TV
> (and video players) the only way I could see Parsifal or Tristan would be to
> jet off to NYC and catch a MET performance.  Way beyond my means!  But with
> TV technology, it only costs, maybe, $20 or $30; even less if I bootleg it
> off of PBS.  

You're not talking here about democracy, but about the cost of entertainment, 
and I suppose there are people in New York who wish it was a lot cheaper to 
fly to Las Vegas to play all those slot machines. I'm enjoying the caviar 
tastes revealed by your wish-list, but why stop there? Think how much more 
beyond your means it would be to fly to Bayreuth on the Concorde to see 
Wagner's Ring cycle, stay at a luxury hotel, rent a tuxedo and a Mercedes, 
and maybe do some boar-hunting on the side. 

Seriously, there are an awful lot of assumptions built into your paragraph, 
and I'm not persuaded that your plight, as a skilled professional worker (not 
a poor person) was or is as dire as you're making it sound. I don't recall 
when the phonograph was invented, but phonograph records of operas have been 
around for about a hundred years. Ditto for local opera companies, and not 
necessary that you fly to New York to see opera--or that you get to New York 
by flying. People often  save money by taking a bus or train, by going on 
some kind of group tour with cut-rate prices...or by waiting until they have 
enough points on their credit card to get a free airline ticket.  

Also, I don't think anyone is seriously arguing that tv has increased 
interest in opera or in any of the arts. If once in a while an opera is 
televised, this is a public broadcasting sop to middle class people like 
yourself who already have the taste. It will probably be followed up by a 
solicitation asking you to contribute money to support public broadcasting. 
If I wanted to get a child interested in opera, I think I'd take the child to 
an actual operatic performance rather than handing him/her a dvd. It wouldn't 
necessarily have to be an operatic  performance in NYC.

And please disabuse yourself of any suspicion that the arts in NYC are only 
accessible to "rich people." Operatic and musical performances have tickets 
in a wide range of prices, including standing room only. Every museum is open 
free at least one day a week. Art galleries don't charge admission (nor do 
public libraries). Off-broadway plays are cheaper than those on Broadway. 
Scads of musical and theatrical performances are free, often at colleges 
(have you checked your local college for what's available?). Performances of 
Shakespeare are free in Central Park in the summer. A lot of this is suported 
by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the NY State Council on the 
Arts--has nothing to do with television. As every state has a council on the 
arts, and Washington is very careful to spread the money evenly, there's 
probably a lot going on in your own state that you just may not be aware of. 

Anyway, I personally think tv sucks, so maybe that's something we don't agree 
on. Haven't had a set for years, and don't ever expect to have one again. The 
Sopranos was kind of an exception--a really good show.  The way I got to see 
it is that my neighbor invited me over every Sunday.

pat

--part1_8d.7a4b1cc.2850617a_boundary
Content-Type: text/html; charset="US-ASCII"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

<HTML><FONT FACE=arial,helvetica><FONT  SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"><B>In a message dated 6/6/01 4:13:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
<BR>[log in to unmask] writes:
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></B>
<BR><BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE style="BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px">While I agree that the "habit" part of the TV culture is bad, I generally
<BR>come down on the opposite end of the debate. &nbsp;Of course 99 plus percent of
<BR>TV is garbage, from day one, and even worse, addictive garbage; one could
<BR>say that about the invention of movable type. &nbsp;Just look around any
<BR>supermarket cash register. &nbsp;The point is the printing press, like TV, is a
<BR>democratization of knowledge, art, et cetera. &nbsp;</FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></BLOCKQUOTE>
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0">Actually, it's more like the opiate of the masses, and the damage is 
<BR>occurring disproportionately to poor children, who can least afford it. 
<BR>Middle class children still learn to read, and by the time they reach young 
<BR>adulthood they're smarter, slicker, more competitive, more focused and more 
<BR>stuffed full of "cultural enrichments" than any generation before them. 
<BR>That's why we have so many smart smart smart graduate students, and all those 
<BR>young genius whiz-bang dot.com CEOs. 
<BR>
<BR>Meanwhile the skills-income gap is larger than it ever was between the safely 
<BR>middle class (what you mean, I think, by "rich") and the truly poor. It's the 
<BR>kids from poor families that are more likely to get parked in front of tv 
<BR>sets &nbsp;as if the boob tube was a substitute baby sitter. From the studies I've 
<BR>heard about, there's an increase, not decrease, in the number of poor 
<BR>children who can't read at grade level, can't fill out a job application, etc 
<BR>etc. If you're old enough, you may remember when the streets weren't littered 
<BR>with homeless people and when the US army wasn't complaining about its 
<BR>problem in finding volunteers who could read well enough to understand 
<BR>equipment manuals. So there's a good argument to be made that our society is 
<BR>becoming less democratic, not more so, and certainly the income gap has 
<BR>widened tremendously. Middle class people are doing better and better, and 
<BR>the poor are doing worse and worse. This is not entirely the fault of 
<BR>television, but tv seems to me to be part of the problem rather than part of 
<BR>the solution.
<BR>
<BR>Before Gutenberg, only the
<BR><BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE style="BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px">top pinnacle of the rich &amp; powerful could actually own a book. &nbsp;</FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></BLOCKQUOTE>
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0">Not so. Universities date back to the 12th century, and what students did in 
<BR>the earliest universities was to write out their own books by taking down, 
<BR>verbatim, the lectures of the instructor. There were plenty of poverty 
<BR>stricken scholars in the middle ages, who depended on the largesse of their 
<BR>patrons. Also, I'd not equate owning books with having access to them. There 
<BR>were famous ancient libraries, including the one at Alexandria, and medieval 
<BR>monasteries typically had libraries for the use of the monks.
<BR>
<BR>Without TV
<BR><BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE style="BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px">(and video players) the only way I could see Parsifal or Tristan would be to
<BR>jet off to NYC and catch a MET performance. &nbsp;Way beyond my means! &nbsp;But with
<BR>TV technology, it only costs, maybe, $20 or $30; even less if I bootleg it
<BR>off of PBS. &nbsp;</FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></BLOCKQUOTE>
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0">You're not talking here about democracy, but about the cost of entertainment, 
<BR>and I suppose there are people in New York who wish it was a lot cheaper to 
<BR>fly to Las Vegas to play all those slot machines. I'm enjoying the caviar 
<BR>tastes revealed by your wish-list, but why stop there? Think how much more 
<BR>beyond your means it would be to fly to Bayreuth on the Concorde to see 
<BR>Wagner's Ring cycle, stay at a luxury hotel, rent a tuxedo and a Mercedes, 
<BR>and maybe do some boar-hunting on the side. 
<BR>
<BR>Seriously, there are an awful lot of assumptions built into your paragraph, 
<BR>and I'm not persuaded that your plight, as a skilled professional worker (not 
<BR>a poor person) was or is as dire as you're making it sound. I don't recall 
<BR>when the phonograph was invented, but phonograph records of operas have been 
<BR>around for about a hundred years. Ditto for local opera companies, and not 
<BR>necessary that you fly to New York to see opera--or that you get to New York 
<BR>by flying. People often &nbsp;save money by taking a bus or train, by going on 
<BR>some kind of group tour with cut-rate prices...or by waiting until they have 
<BR>enough points on their credit card to get a free airline ticket. &nbsp;
<BR>
<BR>Also, I don't think anyone is seriously arguing that tv has increased 
<BR>interest in opera or in any of the arts. If once in a while an opera is 
<BR>televised, this is a public broadcasting sop to middle class people like 
<BR>yourself who already have the taste. It will probably be followed up by a 
<BR>solicitation asking you to contribute money to support public broadcasting. 
<BR>If I wanted to get a child interested in opera, I think I'd take the child to 
<BR>an actual operatic performance rather than handing him/her a dvd. It wouldn't 
<BR>necessarily have to be an operatic &nbsp;performance in NYC.
<BR>
<BR>And please disabuse yourself of any suspicion that the arts in NYC are only 
<BR>accessible to "rich people." Operatic and musical performances have tickets 
<BR>in a wide range of prices, including standing room only. Every museum is open 
<BR>free at least one day a week. Art galleries don't charge admission (nor do 
<BR>public libraries). Off-broadway plays are cheaper than those on Broadway. 
<BR>Scads of musical and theatrical performances are free, often at colleges 
<BR>(have you checked your local college for what's available?). Performances of 
<BR>Shakespeare are free in Central Park in the summer. A lot of this is suported 
<BR>by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the NY State Council on the 
<BR>Arts--has nothing to do with television. As every state has a council on the 
<BR>arts, and Washington is very careful to spread the money evenly, there's 
<BR>probably a lot going on in your own state that you just may not be aware of. 
<BR>
<BR>Anyway, I personally think tv sucks, so maybe that's something we don't agree 
<BR>on. Haven't had a set for years, and don't ever expect to have one again. The 
<BR>Sopranos was kind of an exception--a really good show. &nbsp;The way I got to see 
<BR>it is that my neighbor invited me over every Sunday.
<BR>
<BR>pat</FONT></HTML>

--part1_8d.7a4b1cc.2850617a_boundary--

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