I've said a great deal about T.V. -- how it mesmerizes, how it is addictive, how, like candy, I can't stop eating it. Here's another realization I had about the pull of T.V. -- what makes it so pleasing, so addictive.
I am downstate, in the Detroit area. As I mentioned in my last talk, it is a scary place: people worry all the time about having their homes broken into, their cars stolen or broken into, their bodies attacked. Every sign that surrounds me warns me to be careful: close and lock your door; empty your car and lock it.
I sit in my room and watch T.V. all morning as I wait to go to a dance this afternoon. Every once in awhile I stop watching TV, and the moment I do, fearful thought flood back into my mind: did you lock the car? When I go to the dance, I must pack my belongings into the car because after the dance I am driving back upstate. Should I take all my belongings out of the car and drag them into the dance hall?
I try to think of other things, but the other things I think of -- the other aspects of my life currently -- aren't good either. I worry about money; I worry about teaching; I worry about -- so the TV goes back on again. You can't really think and watch TV. Well, you do think, but you don't think your thoughts about your life and your worries. You think TV.
It is a strange escape from our lives -- not an escape from reality -- reality is shown on some shows on TV -- but TV doesn't allow me to think of my reality, my life, my worries. As one man said recently: "Images on a screen draw us into the action; they pound the emotions, bypass the mind." That is what happens when you watch TV -- images pound emotion -- we laugh, we cry, we are deeply moved -- and all this bypasses your mind which should be screaming: this is false, fake, stop feeling for these people. Or, these people don't even live in your town: you've never met them, never will meet them. Many of them are fictional. Why do you care? Why do you cry?
Because images pound the emotions, bypass the mind--and the mind is silenced, can't think of personal troubles. I know this to be so true. I probably have been weepy and teary eyed far more often watching TV than living life. In life we are urged not to show too much emotion: don't cry at funerals; it is not polite to laugh loudly. But I am home, alone: I can show emotion and I can silence my mind. I am going to turn the TV on again.
Copyright © 2004 Henry Morgenstein
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