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TSE  June 2001

TSE June 2001

Subject:

RE: TSE opinion television and other media

From:

Meyer Robert K GS-9 99 CES/CECT <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 7 Jun 2001 11:51:58 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (204 lines)

Pat, you're right about university productions (opera, ballet, etc) often
being very good, even occasionally better than local independent groups.  It
seems like they (UNLV) have a little more freedom to try less well known
materiel (like Gluck's "Orpheus") than Nevada Opera Theater would do
(sticking mainly to Puccini, etc).  But you didn't address my main point:
the similarity in quality between most TV and most printed materiel.  A
person could use the same argument that TSE used against TV, replacing TV
with reading.  Yes, publishing houses print great lit but that's only tiny
portion what is published.  Perhaps the lower-middle class & poor are
reading the National Inquirer etc but not reading Tolstoy, Melville, or even
TSE.  Therefore (tongue-in-cheek), reading is the problem with society;
things like "War & Peace" and "Moby Dick" (although superior to the National
Inquirer) can not allay our just fears that the reading habit is destroying
civilization. 

Robert

	-----Original Message-----
	From:	[log in to unmask] [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
	Sent:	Wednesday, June 06, 2001 9:48 PM
	To:	[log in to unmask]
	Subject:	Re: TSE opinion television and other media

	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

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