When I was just a boy (really showing my age here) our television brought three channels into our home: CBS, NBC and ABC. (I’m not going to comment on whether any of those shows were in color!)
Today, we literally have hundreds of channels to choose from. Cable television’s potential is enormous; the reality, however, is something else again.
Fire up your TV and what do you get? You can shop for tchotchkes from the comfort of your living room; watch fat people compete at growing thin; snicker as beautiful, shallow women throw themselves at equally handsome, equally shallow men. You can catch yet another History2 pseudo-history, pseudo-science exploration of “ancient aliens,” or watch Harry Reid impersonate a mortician on C-SPAN. With 24 of Kippling’s “waking hours” to fill each day, what do cable news channels do? They run recasts, repeats and retreads of the same people reporting on the same stories, over and over again; then, on Sundays the talking heads take over to discuss modern political minutiae: who made a fool out of himself this week?; who’s not playing ball?; whose negative campaign ad deserves a raspberry? We may as well be listening to medieval pundits theorizing about how many angels they can squeeze onto the head of a pin!
With all the problems America faces: Runaway debt, depression-era unemployment levels, Wallstreet Banksters roaming free … and gambling away billions more on casino-banking bets; the first spooky signs of global warming; mounting poverty and inequality, the rise of the American police state, and much, much more — what won’t you find on television? Shockingly, you won’t find a single program, in a single time slot, that’s devoted to honestly, seriously and creatively examining — or even acknowledging — the real challenges we face as a nation. And you won’t find anyone bringing informed intelligent people together to brainstorm fresh, new solutions!
In this endless desert of the mind that we have created, no one is bathing in an oasis of fresh ideas. No one is doing the hard work, and the creative thinking, that could lead to progress. Instead, we are expected to trudge along through this oppressively hot, dry expanse as those responsible for creating Cable’s content line up to throw fistfuls of sand at us!
The problem is, we take it. No one complains about the enormous waste of intellectual resources. No one reaches for the phone to complain when network anchors continuously under report our real unemployment rate (now hovering at about 22 percent, rather than 8.2 percent), or when our policy leaders (Dems and Reps alike) keep dragging out the same old, debunked, thread-bare ideas of trickle-down riches (really?!) and “quantitative easing,” when what we really need are bold, dynamic “take no prisoners” ideas — like an enforced, maximum 32-hour work week that would instantly create new job openings for many in our idled workforce; or changes to our tax codes that would allow individuals to depreciate their intellectual capital (education investments) the way businesses currently depreciate job-killing investments in equipment; or a call to restore the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law that wisely excluded commercial banks from all the high-risk activities that caused economic ruin in 1929 — and our latest global economic crisis. Glass-Steagall kept Wall Street — and Main Street — safe for 60 years until the Banking Lobby convinced Congress and President Clinton to overturn it in 1994. Now, look where we are!
If we want television programmers to start focusing on creating shows that help solve our problems rather than mindlessly supporting our leaders’ efforts to hide the facts, we must to act. Pick up your phone and call CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, etc., etc. and demand that they up their games.
Remember, that mirage we see glistening on the desert horizon is as bone-dry as the scorching hot sands under our feet. If we continue to live a lie and bury our heads in the sand, thinking our problems will somehow fix themselves, while we settle for cheap cable tv diversions, we will be in for a sobering surprise.
Get real … and make them get real, too. Then, happier days could be ahead. Your thoughts?