Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unplugged.

Marko discusses how, having completed a year without TeeWee, he feels a little "pop culture handicapped".

I can commiserate, although I don't feel particularly handicapped, at least not anymore. I was never a large TeeWee consumer; even when I last had one in my domicile, it was mostly used for watching Fox's Sunday night lineup (The Simpsons, King of the Hill, The X-Files.) I didn't even have a television in the house from '02 to '08; I'd go downstairs to watch Braves games on my neighbor's set.

This means that I have never seen an episode of Survivor. Nor an episode of Dancing With The Stars or American Idol or whatever the popular sitcoms or dramas are right now (I don't actually know.)

Further, since I stopped listening to broadcast radio when I got a CD changer in the trunk of my car, I couldn't name a Billboard Top Forty tune (or artist) from the last decade, either.

What's funny is people's reactions when you share this tidbit of information: They often get very, very defensive. Even hostile sometimes. Why is that?

If you look back over what I have written in the paragraphs above, it contains no value judgments. I didn't say "TV sucks and only cretins watch it," or "mainstream radio is a wasteland for drooling imbeciles," and yet if you mention that you don't listen to the radio or watch TeeWee, frequently people react as though you made exactly those statements and accuse you of everything from snobbish elitism to putting flouride in their children's water. It's rather comical, actually; it's almost as though they're feeling guilty about something. They do say that the wicked flee when no man pursueth.

28 comments:

West, By God said...

I say "TV sucks" all the time. Even my beloved Discovery and History channels have gone all to hell. I pretty much stay away from the TV altogether, unless I really really need to switch my brain off.

I also stopped listening to "mainstream radio" when I got my Sirius. Mostly, I don't like the commercials, but I also come from a town with limited land-based radio options. Now that I'm in a big city, there are a lot more options, but I find myself leaving the Sirius set almost exclusively to channel 65 (although if I'm driving in the evening, I'll sometimes switch it over to 144 to listen to Cam Edwards.)

Dr. StrangeGun said...

The only thing I watch from the major networks is House.

Asides from that, it's pretty much Discovery HD all the way...

Anonymous said...

Teevee free for some 15 years, I feel the lack only the final month of every presidential election year when the doowhackadoos make their best pitch for the White House. It's a little spooky not to be right on top of what they think is the pulse of my fellow subjects ... errr... citizens.

The net helps fill the gap, though, and I gather this year that Obama made it by vowing to repeal Gresham's Law.


73
Reardon

Tam said...

This is how unplugged I am:

When you said House, I thought of a 1986 horror movie. I had to wiki to find out that the show is something different.

Jon said...

I've been TVless (well, Cable TV less, I could pick up local over the air broadcasts I guess, but I don't) for the past year or so. I've go on and off.

I miss NFL football and following my Broncos during the football season, but beyond that the little bit of actual TV I watch I can download and stream to my TV anyway....

And thats not much. House and Burn Notice. (Recommend them both actually)

Outside of that, my TV gets used for the occasional console game, and thats it. It is often a quiet bored piece of electionics :)

Ahab said...

When people tell me that "they don't have a TV" I usually am surprised; because for me it's almost a necessity. I honestly don't know how I'd live if I wasn't constantly connected to some kind of information center.

reflectoscope said...

I'm in the same boat - no TV, and Sirius instead of broadcast radio - and I am happy for it. Maybe it is having some perspective on both that makes it obvious how painfully inane they've become? Hmm. Jim.

Anonymous said...

House and Life, and I'd pick Damian Lewis over Hugh Laurie if pressed. Sometimes This Old House and Ask This Old House when the local PBS-pushers aren't begging.

No cable, no satellite, probably have to get a digital converter box at some point. Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

For radio, Limbaugh. Gave up on Boortz and Hannity - on AM (and FM, for that matter) they keep interrupting the commercials with radio programs, and I have Only So Much Patience. Tunes come from those little plastic disks. Sometimes a movie from a similar little plastic disk, if it's a particularly good one.

The rest of the time it's books. Just finished John Ringo's The Last Centurion (which I enthusiastically recommend), next up is To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918 by Edward Lengel, and Against Medical Advice by Patterson & Friedman comes after that. Thank goodness for the printed page.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! I quit watching TV when the X-Files went off. I haven't watched a single episode of anything since. I listen to books on CD in the car. I watch DVDs at home, or read. Mostly I read.

I guess, I am the most pop culturally challenged person I know.

karrde said...

Great closing quote, Tam. (Didn't know you were so well-versed...)

I find myself without much reason to want to watch TV.

Last time I saw the House show (TV, not movie), I wondered why rude, acerbic people like him appear to make good TV. (Same thing when my brother, a college sophomore, tried to get me to watch Scrubs. Why is there always an old, rude jerk in charge? Why are the mid-20's people on the show such emotionally-weak, feelings-oriented dweebs?)

I used to cruise Cable-land looking for something good to watch. Now that I've quit, I don't miss it.

Tam said...

Karrde,

"Great closing quote, Tam. (Didn't know you were so well-versed...)"

I'm only culturally illiterate if we're considering network television and broadcast radio to be culture. I do okay with those paper thingies. ;)

Anonymous said...

Tam, I've found it common for some people who profess to shun TV that they DO evince an air of some perceived superiority. My own cynicism causes a belief that they're merely trying to hide the fact that they couldn't pay the cable bill.

That I find Prime Time programs quite puerile does not mean I can't enjoy college football or car racing. If God isn't a Longhorn, how come sunsets are burnt orange? And after chauffering a damned old race car for twenty-two years, well, if I can't drive I can at least watch.

Hey, DirecTV has semi-serious radio, so I go to Channel 802 and listen to Fats Domino and the Five Satins and others from that era when I was young and healthy...

:-),

Art

Tam said...

Art,

I understand where you're coming from, and have indeed met the type you reference.

I do find it liberating to be weaned from the box, though. I can remember the days when I told my boss I had to be off work at a certain time on Thursday nights so I wouldn't miss Moonlighting. It's a wonder I wasn't fired. :D

OldTexan said...

I stopped watching TV news about ten years ago, I just read what I want on the internet. The only reality shows I watch on TV are sports, football and baseball but I do like to record some of the sitcoms and watch them without commercials.

I need to work on this no TV thing, I will have to think about weaning myself off of that crap. My wife would probably go along with me because the only thing she watches is the HGTV, (Highly Gay TV) where people do things to house but she is getting tired of that stuff.

Wife and I do like to read a lot and if we can turn off the TV we might even start talking to each other a bit more, that shouldn't hurt too much.

Thanks Tam for another good topic.

Joe Huffman said...

I just got into this conversation last night. Someone made a reference to some local news thing I had no clue about.

Them: Haven't heard about it? What rock are you hiding under?

Me: I don't have a T.V. and I don't subscribe to newspapers.

Them: How can be informed as to what is going on?

Me: I am very well informed on national and world news. Particularly as it relates to guns.

Them: That's so narrow minded.

Me: Not if you prefer to make the news rather than consume it.

Mark Alger said...

Joe;

There seems to be a logical flaw there... The notion that consuming MSM news makes one well-informed... It does not compute.

M

DirtCrashr said...

We don't take cable - I won't *pay* for TV and not taking Cable provides a plane trip to Hawaii every year. We watch generally left tilted PBS stuff (fun! look and find the semi-not-hidden smug editorial framing and slant, it's there!) - Antiques Roadshow, NOVA, This Old House, Mystery. Crap.
We don't watch serialized Network shows - not even Monday Night Football or other sports/activity shows, especially not Talk-Sports (WTF?) since they don't EVER show motorcycle racing of any sort.
I always wonder, why watch what you can go out and DO - if you felt like it?
We also don't have or play any video games - we're really-really boring and people should just stay away during the holidays, don't expect any excitement anyhow.

Joe R> said...

I got the 42" plasma to be ready for HD and Blu-ray content. I have cable but I'm not giving Comcast another $10 for HD so they can give me a box/remote to play with. The TV doesn't go on from Mon - Fri unless a major news or major weather event. I'm online playing games and I guess that's where I'm gonna be...

Joe R.

Tirno said...

I was without TV from '98 to '06, and I didn't particularly miss it.

In late '06, my wife decided that she (as a foreigner) was too disconnected from her co-workers, so she sprung for DirectTV. I already had a widescreen TV, THX amplifier and such, all the better to watch Lord of the Rings on. (No, really, that's what it was purchased for.)

Well, we don't watch that much DirectTV, either. The DVR collects Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine and Sesame street for the kids. It sucks down Heavy Metal, Dogfights, and Mail Call for me. It snarfs up Sarah Connor Chronicles and Battlestar Galactica for both my wife's and my enjoyment after the kids go to sleep. We never see the commercials except at 8x speed. Other than that, the only time I saw the receiver in regular use was when my visiting in-laws wanted to keep up with the presidential election.

Some may say we're not getting our money's work out of the subscription. I'd say we're already getting what is of value out of it, and leaving the rest.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't feel any guilt over my viewing habits. Then again, I watch maybe 5-6 hours of TV a week, sometimes less...mostly due to my preference of waiting and picking up what I like on DVD/Blu-ray.

From my perspective, it has more to do with having encountered some people who have not only voluntarily chosen to avoid TV, but have done so to a degree bordering on zealotry. People like that don't just get rid of their TV, they a) never let you forget that they have ascended to a higher plane of evolutionary development by unchaining themselves from the binding hindrances of the idiot box, and b) are being benevolent and conscientious (and not pompous and condescending) by deigning to converse with those insensate fools who still watch TV, people which they find akin to those still plugged into the Matrix...trapped and unenlightened souls not even aware of their own grotesqueness who are, in fact, root cause of all societies ills and by that nature, the enemy of perfect and holy children of god.

After running into more than a few people like that, you sometimes can't help but react from the gut to people who say they got rid of their TV.

Tam said...

I do find consciously "getting rid of television" to be something of a statement people make.

I never really did that, myself. It's just that for many years, the TeeWee always belonged to one of my various roommates. When I got my own place, I never bothered to replace it.

LabRat said...

Yeah, what the last anon said. I've heard quite more than enough from folks who act like it's some kind of poison. No, TV is like every other source of information and entertainment- covered by Sturgeon's Law. 90% of everything on at a given time will be crap, but there's usually something worthwhile buried in there. (Commenter who mentioned Burn Notice for the win. Also Venture Brothers.) I did manage to avoid jerking my knee, though.

Tivo sorts the dross for us pretty well.

Jerry said...

I got rid of the dish 3 years ago. I've already got the DTV converter boxes ready for my one TV for February. I proably watch about 1 hour of TV a week; more during tornado season.

Watching TV is a big sport here in Indiana, as you now know.

Good for you on pulling the plug.

Montie said...

Tam,

Even though I have 4 TV's in my house, all hooked up to cable, I'm proud to say that I've never seen a single episode of any of the "reality" shows you mentioned either. What little TV I do watch is usually only available via cable, and the hookup gives me great high speed web access and a cheap land-line if my cell phone should fail.

Hunter said...

Tam,
We got a fast hook-up on 12 Sep 2001, and got rid of it after about March of '03. We never actually made a schedule to watch anything, it was just there.
Now, we are not boxless, just unconnected. The TV is only for movies, without commercials, and when we want to see them.
As far as other folks response when we say we have no TV, the overriding impression that I get is that they are pissed at what they perceive to be my smugness. I don't think I'm acting smug, I really think that they want me to be, so they can feel relieved that it's not them.
Hunter
Alaska

Jason said...

I pretty much stopped watching tv once I moved away from Chicago. Now if there's something I need to see, I can usually find the pertinent clip online as a sort of pop-culture Cliff Notes. Case in point: "More Cowbell."

The only thing the tv is there for is pretty much local news, and two old British comedies, "Are You Being Served?" and "Last of the Summer Wine." There is also baseball, but I normally listen to the games on the radio instead.

I seem to have the thing around for emergency purposes only. The rest of the time, I'm online, at the range, or doing some other interactive type activity.

John B said...

Actually there is an implied superiority when someone says "I don't watch TV"

Myself I just say, I haven't been watching lately. or I missed that.

Chris M said...

I disconnected the Dish in Mar. 2000 after about three years of increasing frustration over the poor quality of the constant reruns and the incessant commercials. Paying to receive commercials just seemed too much like adding injury to insult.

I did catch about half an hour on election night of the editorializing that must pass for "news" now. From what I saw then I not only don't miss TV, I don't think I could stand to watch it anymore.