The Glass Teat - Shadowlands Journal
A Look Inside The Vast Wasteland

by Ray Levasseur (c) August 23, 1998

The Glass Teat, Cyclops, The Boob Tube, The Box....

You could say that television and I were born and grew up together, from it's more innocent roots to the present era of excess; lewdness, violence, sensationalism, lack of content or originality, rampant consumerism and cynicism. To quote from the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, "there's nothing new under the sun." What is done, was done before and will be done again. Golden age TV shows had their day in the sun, and should be left to lie. The networks regurgitate old materials which were funny in their time, to updated shows that lack what the originals had. It seems (to me) the only thing that matters is "market share," and to hell with content or quality, just make a quick big profit. The same seems to hold true in the movie industry where Hollywood blanket bombs the population with "mostly" visual junk food for the mind. In many ways racy scripts, excess action and violence and blockbuster special effects attempt to divert the moviegoer's attention away from the realization that they have paid to see an otherwise half baked, mediocre story. If they throw enough films at us, some have to wind up winners. Very seldom does a great, immortal film get released. We live in a throwaway society, and our entertainment industry reflects this mindset. Even back during the 50's the director of the F.C.C. referred to television as a "Vast Wasteland." I wonder if he were around today, what his feelings would be?

I view a lot less TV than when I was younger. Of course life in the 90's is much more stressful, demanding and time consuming than during a kinder/gentler era. I have much less time today to just be a couch potato for a day. If I turn that rotten box on, the last thing I want to do is get even more stressed out, which (for me) has become the case with television.

Television could be much more, if the producers and executives really tried. For the most part, it requires no thought and is a totally passive time waster. In my opinion, Public Broadcasting is one of the few exceptions to this rule, but still Television IS a non participatory medium, where it's only you and the tube. One sorry statement of these alienated times is that, for many, TV is their only companion. Numerous social experts claim that television is the cause of so much violence in society. I agree to some extent in that it does mirror what's going on, and does influence behavior, especially among the young, easilly impressionable and marginally sane. There is little/no excuse for a lot of the air time garbage that pollutes the air waves, but violence, sensationalism, profanity and sex do sell, I'm just not one of the major consumers of this stuff.

The Good, The Bad and The Boring.

I know that opinions are like tushies, everyone has one. There are all sorts of programs for varying tastes. For the most part, I find TV a big waste of time; mindless, demoralizing, dumbed down. I have not had cable for years as all I find cable to be is 600 channels of the same old thing. When I do view network programs, the mute button gets pressed whenever commercials come on. As time marches on, society seems to become more materialistic and greed motivated; that's all that seems to matter to many people. I personally do not want or need the never-ending stream of "stuff" that the sponsors insist is essential to my self worth and eternal "salvation." I could write volumes more about what a sewer the TV, film and music industries have become, but will nip those comments short; another fish to fry, in another pan, for viewer consumption at some future Area51 potluck editorial.

Shows That Influenced Yours Truly
From Childhood to Present, Also Some of
My All Time Favorites.

The Also Rans, Specials and Assorted
Bigboote Honorable Fave Mentions.

I don't get TV Guide, not even the free inserts that newspapers include in the Sunday paper. I'll watch a program based on suggestions from coworkers and friends, or when a trailer is aired for "tune in next week," during a program I'm viewing at the time. Other than that, I only regularly watch 4-5 shows in a given week.

So there you have it, my fairly in depth viewing habits and history of personal favorites. As you might guess, I especially like Science Fiction, Twilight Zone/X-Files genre, Science and How-To programs, Documentaries and off the wall Comedy. Throw in some uplifting Spiritual material, and that just about sums up why I even bother to turn the box on.

Some Teevee Links For You

Stay Tuned,
Til then, I bid you Peace, Ray