Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's National TV Turn-Off Week!

My favorite week of the year is back, and just like last year, there's all sorts of reasons not to turn your television off. Ignoring the obvious need to check in on the news, the NBA playoffs are in full swing, as the Good (Warriors and Nuggets) try to win three more each against the Evil (Mavericks and Spurs). TVSquad lists five reasons you should be watching TV - the 30 Rock finale is pretty much essential television at this point - but I decided to go beyond listing the goodness of TV and check out the TV Turnoff Network's website because I'm sure it would make me very, very angry. I have a lot to get done tonight, so let's just take a look at their quotes section.

Sometimes boys and girls would rather watch TV than read. When your teachers say read, they are giving you pretty damn good advice. - President George W. Bush to a group of school children

President Bush doesn't like reading briefings or the paper. This is pretty much a fact, unless you don't trust Bob Woodward or anyone else that's written anything on him. Also, why is the president cursing in front of a group of school children?

"When it comes to children, there are two successful strategies to prevent obesity. First, parents should take control of the TV set and limit how much TV their children watch. Parents also need to be in charge of what children are offered to eat..." --Dr. William Dietz, obesity expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 13, 2001

Do you know what’s probably more important for parents in battling obesity then monitoring how much TV their kids watch? The whole “being in charge of what they’re eating”. Children also get little exercise from reading books or sitting on the computer, so let’s be sure and lump all of those together.

Mr. President, this week, April 23-29, is national TV-Turnoff Week. Turn it off! Let's have more turnoff weeks; make it 52 weeks of the year, national TV-Turnoff Week. This is an effort sponsored by the TV-Turnoff Network, a grassroots organization that has organized thousands of schools, clubs, community organizations, and religious groups to get the American people to turn off or limit their television viewing for one week to discover that there is actually life beyond the boob tube. The group has won the support and endorsement of dozens of powerful organizations, such as the American Medical Association. They have certainly won my support and my hearty endorsement. Hallelujah! Turn off that TV...I do want to emphatically stress that there is much more to life than the boring, degrading, demeaning fare on the boob tube. I urge the American people to use this week to break your addiction to television. Just say no! As the TV-Turnoff Network urges, 'turn off TV, turn on life.' - Senator Byrd of West Virginia on the floor of the U.S. Senate

When I saw it was Senator Byrd who said this quote, I just stopped reading, because he’s a hundred years old and probably doesn’t even know how to turn on a television. I went back and read it, and I think he was just reading something the TV-Turnoff Network gave him to say in exchange for extra tapioca pudding.

I had a great time, and my only question is: If this is so great, why don't we turn off the TV for the other 51 weeks of the year? -Benjamin Loxley, 2nd grader, Lewisboro, New Jersey

A random 2nd grader from New Jersey supports this! Hot damn, somebody legislate a television ban. How hard did they have to look for this quote, or did they just make it up?

We have reconstructed the Tower of Babel, and it is a television antenna: a thousand voices producing a daily parody of democracy, in which everyone's opinion is afforded equal weight regardless of substance or merit. -Ted Koppel

Ted Koppel was on Meet The Press a few weeks ago and just seemed like a really grumpy guy. I’m sorry, what exactly is the problem with everyone in a democracy getting their equal voice? I know some (a lot?) of people are dumb and shouldn’t talk, but hey, that’s how our country rolls.

TV is the single most significant factor contributing to violence in America. -Ted Turner

That and the internet. And video games. Actually, technology on a whole is pretty bad, we should just try to convert ourselves back to the Middle Ages or all become Amish.

I really didn't like TV-Turnoff Week except I did notice that my grades went up and I was in a good mood all week. -Drew Henderson, 2nd grader, Donora, Pennsylvania

More 2nd graders! Fantastic! Keep these great opinions coming. Or don’t, because Ted Koppel isn’t a fan of people getting their voice.

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. -Groucho Marx

Movies, which would be where Mr. Marx made most of his money, are completely educational and not a waste of time at all.

Our family has been TV-free for seven to eight years... Now you couldn't GIVE me a TV. -Joe Dolan

Who the f*ck is Joe Dolan?

In many families the television seems to substitute, rather than facilitate dialogue among people. A type of 'fast' in this area could also be healthy. -Pope John Paul II during a speech calling for a 40-day TV-Turnoff

I’m not arguing that televisions aren’t a negative influence in some homes, but that’s the fault of the familial structure or parents more than the television. The problem is in moderation versus excess, just like so many other things.

Television is a chewing gum for the eyes. -Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright died in 1959, so I’m pretty sure his opinion would be about as valuable as if we asked somebody who died in 1996 how worthwhile the internet was. He also was kind of crazy, and if people would let him, he’d tell them what kind of clothes to wear in the houses he designed.

I promoted National TV-Turnoff Week in our parent newsletter. At the end of the week, a woman called me to say it had been a great opportunity to spend more time with her daughter. She had previously thought she needed TV as a baby-sitter and was delighted to learn that her 4-year-old could help with daily household tasks such as setting the table, folding laundry, etc. -Anne Campbell, Portland, Oregon

Um, that’s just pretty much confirming my “The parents are the problem, not the television” thesis, right? Some random woman was a bad parent who didn’t spend time with her kid, and needed some parent newsletter to realize a four-year old was capable of helping out around the house with mom? That definitely confirms my thoughts.

Given our national television habit, it is no surprise that we are raising the most sedentary and most overweight generation of youngsters in American history. As they grow, these children will run increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems -- unless they turn off the tube and become physically active. -US Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D.

I always watch TV, preferably a sporting event or game show where I don’t need sound, when I’m on the treadmill or elliptical. Also, allow me to remind you that computers, reading and sitting around talking on the phone also might contribute to this habit and parents need to encourage their children to play outside or participate in sports. Television is just a scapegoat in this regard.

Most parents loved the peacefulness and commented on more creative play time, time to talk, more time to read, less arguing and were generally appreciative that teachers pushed them to try this experiment. -Linnea Brecuier, Moorpark, California

Television causes more arguing!? Who are these people? Again, who says you can’t do all that stuff and then watch TV a little bit, too?

The remarkable thing about television is that it permits several million people to laugh at the same joke and still feel lonely. -T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot died in 1965, so the Wright thinks kind of applies here. Also, I’m a big believer in the community aspect of television, mainly because A) you can discuss television with people and B) watch it with them, as Andrew and I gleefully await Inferno III tonight.

My brother and I participated in National TV-Turnoff Week, and while he would probably hate me for saying this because he loves TV, when my brother isn't watching TV all the time, he's a lot more fun to be around. We actually hung out together and just talked, something we had not done in a long time. --Beth Lubozhiski, 7th grader, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Beth Lubozhiski is probably a little twit whose brother hates her.

The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were. -David Brinkley

I agree with that one, David Brinkley. Television news, especially the 24-hour networks, are ridiculous.

Television is no substitute for a parent. It doesn’t help develop language skills; it’s simply background noise. -First Lady Laura Bush

100% agree, although I find it odd Laura Bush is the one talking about the discussion of language skills.

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